The internet is like a constant revolving door, with new website trends coming in and out of style as web designers from all around try to differentiate themselves from the pack. As these websites make the news through speciality blogs and inspiration feeds, other web designers tend to follow more and more websites with the same style popping up. The past year has seen the following styles being preferred over others.
First the internet was flat, then skeuomorphism (when design elements resemble real world counterparts) was the big thing and then we went back to a flat minimalist look. And when Google launched its material design, the web design world suddenly realised it was possible to make flat design literally standout.
Layered elements have been popping up on websites everywhere. The objective is to give websites a realistic look, where elements are layered, like piled pieces of paper, where depth of field, animation and shadow effects come into play making parts of the website standout “out” of the screen. It’s as if the user could touch these elements.
Hand and hand with skeuomorphism, gradients have been out of the picture and replaced by a flat design, with uniform blocks of colour. Facilitated by the advances in browser technology and possibly inspired by Instagram’s bold take on their new logo, gradients are making a comeback. It’s a fun way to add interest to your page, when an over minimalistic look might be making it look bland.
As more and more traditional publications make their way online, leaving their print counterparts behind, there comes a need for website layouts to get more organised. This is something print design has had figured out for decades. A good magazine or newspaper manages to fit its content into a predetermined page size and organises articles and subjects neatly to improve the reading experience.
Recently web design has been borrowing from this experience to create layouts with clear defined grids. As is the case with magazines, these websites make use of columns and sectioned elements to organise content. The result is an improved user experience where users find and digest the content and message of the website much more effectively.
Design and illustration have always worked well together. A good illustration can transmit a message a paragraph or a simple photograph is unable to and it’s always a good way to avoid the dreaded stock image that ends up showing up on multiple websites. But websites actually have a tendency to stay away from illustrated looks.
Illustration is much more present in web design today; websites try to have a distinctive and unique look. It manifests in various ways, from the custom lettered title, to a custom vector hero image or a completely illustrated background. It also gives designers more control over the brand and the message of the website.