With more than half of the year already passed, I think it’s safe to take a peek on the web design trend predictions made at the end of 2014 and see whether they were accurate. Some of them have proven to be short lived, but others have been picked up by web designers, changing the face of the websites considered modern and up to date. So, let’s see which of the trends are here to stay at least until the end of the year – or until something even better than is invented.
1. Large images and videos in the background
From LinkedIn’s sign in page to Apple’s Watch website, large image and video backgrounds are popping up everywhere. While some “oldskool” internet navigators might consider this a waste of bandwidth, they are a minority – people are apparently appreciating this new style all over the world. Slowly switching images or a static (but random) background on a landing page can add a lot of style and context to your website, so I think this trend is here to stay at least until the end of the year – and beyond.
A nice example of a large background image you can find at the Royal Vegas blog, used by the operator to inform its readers about the best online promotions available at Royal Vegas casino. The blog is almost minimalistic ad clean, but the large scale background image adds a hint of subtle luxury and delight to the overall view – while still hiding out of focus in the back.
The use of large images as fixed backgrounds was for long limited by the low bandwidth and the high loading times of such images. But this is not the case today – the average internet user has a decent connection speed at least, and the connections themselves are mostly unmetered on desktop computers. Many web designers – adepts of the “old school” would still advise against the use of such backgrounds. I would add that using a large image as a background for a mobile website is not a good idea, as it can grow the costs of users due to mobile data transfer rates, but on desktop devices there is no impediment in front of using such technologies to make your website more stylish and visually appealing to its visitors.
2. Ghost buttons and line icons
With “flat” and “minimal” design being the predicted buzz words for this year’s web design trends, ghost buttons and line icons are being used on an increasing number of websites. No wonder – they are a perfect fit for a clutter-free, minimal look, providing close to no distraction or fuss, while still being hard to miss. The trend was set by Apple’s iOS 7, and it leaked through to most modern websites. And, the style having proven its worth, it is here to stay for the rest of 2015 – and probably beyond.
Here are some examples using ghost buttons:
Some specialists argue that ghost buttons fail at inspiring visitors to click them, as they are mostly mistaken for content holders. This can be true in certain conditions, but with the right placement and the right choice of border width and color they can be as efficient as their ancestors, and not break the harmony of the design at all.
3. Material Design
The culmination of “minimal” and “flat”, Google’s new user interface style has made a lot of impression this year. Introduced with Android 5.0 (Lollipop), it has been adopted by countless web designers. No wonder – it provides a clear, easy to navigate user interface with sharp contrasts and bright colors, sometimes playful, other times more serious, but each time easy to use.
Google is the undisputed master of Material Design (it is his own invention after all), using it as a standard for all of its newly released apps especially on mobile. I expect this technique to make it way to even more websites in the coming months, offering them cleaner interfaces and easier navigation – not to mention more convenience and color. This is also a trend that is here to stay, offering a third dimension to the otherwise flat and minimalistic look – especially on smartphone and tablet screens.
Material Design is used not just by Google on several of its websites – you can see it in action on many of Google’s product pages – but it is increasingly popular among website designers as an effort to unify their visitors’ experience on Google’s Android devices and the desktop (traditional) web. The new design paradigm is being adopted by an increasing number of designers – HTML templates using Material Design and even WordPress themes that follow Google’s guidelines.
It’s hard to predict what’s coming, considering how many new technologies and trends we should be keeping an eye on. I think “web design” as a whole is going to change fundamentally in the very near future. I expect web design to become something much more complex, something more than just visual creation – it will integrate many other things, like text, video and photography to create experiences rather than interfaces. The websites of the near future will not focus on the mere visuals, but integrate text flow, fluidity, interactions, gestures and many more, offering visitors a new way to experience content instead of just idly consuming it. The extra dimension added by Material Design to a fundamentally two-dimensional practice will gain much more attention, becoming not just a trend, but a basic requirement for newly created website interfaces. Subtle animations and floating containers will be something ordinary in the coming years.
Responsive design will also mature in the coming years. Websites will instantly adapt to the screens on which they are displayed, but they will also keep track of the screen resolution of the device they are visited from, offering the best visuals and performance depending on its capabilities, again assuring the best experience a visitor can have when visiting it. And I think that’s what is the most important.
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