New Design, New Techniques...
1. Long Pages – More Scrolling
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that most contemporary site designs tend to be longer in length when scrolling through a page. As mobile browsing become more popular, it’s becoming the norm for sites to build in scrolling instead of linking as a means of displaying content, particularly on home pages.
It's easier for users to simply scroll or flick through a page to get their information than it is to constantly click to find information. Whilst long scrolling sites have been well-liked for a while, the benefits of scrolling have multiplied and found themselves in other places other than the home page, such as about pages and even product-oriented pages as a means to elegantly display a wide variety of content. For example, Apple’s page for its new iPhone 6 utilises the long scrolling page approach outside of the home page. Apple developed its main iPhone 6 page to be a long scrolling site, displaying all of the product’s technical data and features. In addition, the site added some slick animations to make the scrolling experience visually attentive.
2. Storytelling and interaction
Whilst we recognise it’s vital to have compelling and relevant content, being able to tell a story through this material is an edge-honing bonus. As we move forward, web design is likely to revolve around telling the visitor a story. An example of this can be found at Space Needle’s website. Artfully, this site provides the facts of the Space Needle through the vehicle of a story supported by design that follows the trend of the long page scrolling already mentioned here.
3. Alternative to large image headers
Some recent designs have adopted the style by retaining large headers but creating background-image free layout. Our view is that not only is this a means of challenging the trend but improving site performance and speed (see item 10 below).
4. Removing non-essential design elements in favour of simplicity
Driven by multi-device considerations, design is constantly being checked by the question, 'Is that feature or design facet essential?' Anything that doesn't really help or add value will be removed. Of course, it would be reasonable to ask why was is it there in the first place but we know that often these features emerge through the excitement of deploying clever trinkets into the design phase. These items don't matter so much especially on smaller screens where not only is space at a premium but needs to be clean, easy to understand and navigate.
Designers have practically eliminated many design decisions that most current websites have (i.e. background colours, multiple images, elegant layouts, etc.). Instead, we opt for a clean and simple site design, and it stands out amongst the crowd of those heavy on; design, image and colour.
5. Fix width centred site layout
Over the last few years, many sites have used the '100 percent width' design element so that items such as sections visually stretch the full width of a browser’s screen. Before this trend, most sites were width-fixed and centred. You could identify where the site ended.
This width-fixed trend seems to be trying to make a reappearance in a more contemporary way. Instead of sites and their content sections going all the way to either side of the browser view some sites are operating with a max-width to keep the content centred in the screen.
6. Professional high quality custom photography
Stock images still have a role in design, but it's tempting and easier now to use unstaged images and non or little treated photography. It clearly depends on the site focus and the orientation around product.
Custom photography takes the design and styling further on from just picking stock pictures and creates a more personalised experience.
The example above highlights this experience very well. With custom photography used in the main header, the site elicits a personal reaction because it shows real people behind the company.
7. Flyout/slideout app-like menus
Responsive Web design has been with us for quite a while. Up until this time, most design emphasis was placed on making the site look great on laptops, and passable on mobiles and tablets. RWD has allowed every experience to feel great no matter the device. With this initiative, we can see design elements that take what works on mobile devices and implementing it site wide.
8. Hidden main menus
Much like the fly-out menus already mentioned, it’s seen that sites will hide their main menus thoughtfully within the homepage. These hidden menus will only pop out when the visitor is ready to navigate on and uses the appropriate icon. This technique is found in responsive design and is starting to be moved into all design instead of just small device interaction.
We can see this clearly in Brian Hoff Design’s site. He uses the hamburger icon in the top right of his home page to hide the main navigation until the visitor chooses to move on. This is a direct bi-product of years of web app usage. Once again, this approach delivers clean and functional results no matter what size the screen delivery parameters.
9. Very large typography
In 2014, we saw that typography was growing in importance in new site design, and we don’t see that changing in the immediate future. Perhaps, as we move forward, large headings and typography will get larger and more widespread. This example above shows the sort of emphasis of large typography right when you visit the page. It makes a strong statement that stays with you. Large typography is likely going to be key in 2015 as a way to enhance the visual hierarchy of the page by ensuring visitors read the largest type on the page first, because that is what gets our attention first. This example achieves this very well.
10. Performance and speed
Some design trends have been motivated by the need to make sites load faster and consume less bandwidth. A great proportion of the trends discussed in this piece more than likely came out of the need to reduce the size of the site and find ways to quickly load the site for those using mobile or tablet devices or those on slower networks. Site designers and developers are becoming more keenly aware of the weight of their sites and how their users want to navigate them. Responsive Web design has assisted in bringing these concerns to the fore. Things like slow network speed (either on mobile networks or home ISPs) and device type have forced designers and developers alike to pay close attention to a site's technical parameters, how fast those sites load on different networks, and aware of users operating to limited hosting.
- Date: 23 November, 2015
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