In pre-Facebook times, it seems that everyone had a Myspace page. The page was customizable, although many users seemed to opt for the “busy” look, with bold clashing colors and an overwhelming amount of graphics and text, as well as the “welcome song” that played when a user visited the page – which could often be startling if you forgot that your speakers were turned up and you were suddenly blasted with the opening chords of a heavy metal song.
Facebook has a more uniform look, and this is perhaps reflective of web design over the intervening years, with the flat design concept becoming more commonplace. Web design trends from year to year are often difficult to spot, since stylistic and functional applications often evolve slowly. Having said that, there are some trends that have increased in popularity over the last year or more, and will become clear web design trends for 2014.
Forbes Magazine has listed responsive design, simple design and storytelling design as their picks for the hot web trends of 2014. Many websites now feature responsive design, and it might be a case of that if a website doesn’t soon feature this type of interaction and subsequent user experience, then it might be left behind.
The Small Business Trends website defines this trend as “The purpose of responsive design is to have one site, but with different elements that respond differently when viewed on devices of different sizes.” So essentially it’s a singular website that is organically optimized for computer, tablet and smartphone interaction.
Simple design in terms of web design is usually referred to as Flat Design, which utilizes a minimalist, simplistic and straightforward approach to designing a web page. Rather than populating the page with excessive graphics/photos/illustrations, blocks of text or “busy” backgrounds, Flat Design relies on segmented boxes of text (which has usually been culled significantly from its previous incarnations), distinctive colors and typography, like these web layouts examples.
A well designed website can tell the story of whatever company, product or service that it has been developed for, and Storytelling Design uses this idea to organically tell the story in question through carefully chose text, images and general layout. As Newtek says, “Let them discover who you/your company are by letting it unfold before their eyes, so to speak. Let them start where you did and fast track them to how you arrived at a solution.” This type of design relies upon compelling storytellers, and as such, you’ll need to have a top notch copywriter at your disposal.
Browsing the web can be a cold, sterile affair, even on the liveliest of websites, and some commentators have suggested that injecting your personality into your website can be as simple as displaying a photo of yourself. This isn’t a generic profile photo along the lines of a social media profile or a reporter’s byline, but a creative insertion of your face and the personality (real or implied) therein.
Web design is almost like something that’s alive – it’s in a constant state of evolution, responding to its environment and developing accordingly. Each year there are numerous articles making expert claims about hot web design trends for the coming year, many of which fail to catch on. The trend for inserting a large photo of yourself in your page might pass, but at the very least, responsive and simple design are set to become the norm.
Editor of Splashpress Media, writer, and geek bitten by the travel bug. You can follow her on Twitter @noemiruth.