2015 Web Design Trends

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2015 Web Design Trends

We’re living in one hell of an exciting time to be designing for the web. 1 gb/second internet is upon us, phones and tablets with greater and greater screen sizes and pixel densities are coming out almost daily, and the importance of one’s digital presence has never been greater.

As coding languages and content management systems evolve, so too does the web, and 2015 design trends can be summed up in 2 simple words: User Experience. Below, we’ve outlined a handful of trends that we’ve seen really burst onto the web and wow us recently. Mark my words – you’ll see a lot of these trends this year and you’ll find them intuitive and user friendly (even if you don’t notice it).

1. Long Scroll
If you’ve read a single article on design/development in the last decade, chances are you’ve heard about mobile sites, mobile friendly sites, and responsive design. These are all recurring topics that we’ll be addressing in the following points, and we’re going to start here with the orientation of web content.

While mobile-specific sites and apps may be required for robust sites like facebook and amazon, most front-end focused (brochure) sites are (rightly) moving away from maintaining separate desktop and mobile sites. Instead, they’re designing their web content so that the user experience translates well from desktop to mobile and back again.

It is my personal belief that our collective experiences with browsing sites on our phones and tablets has subtly transformed the way we expect websites to perform on our laptops and desktops. Well designed mobile sites and apps are minimalistic in their copy and navigation out of necessity with smaller screens, they intuitively direct the user to scroll for more information, and their CTAs (Calls To Action) are specific and intentional, and all of these are examples of trends that designers are increasingly implementing across websites.

UI/UX studies clearly demonstrate that people gravitate towards what they understand, so it makes sense that designers are moving away from crowded landing pages and disproving the myth that you need to put your most important content ‘above the fold’ because users don’t know how to scroll. Leveraging vertical real estate allows designers to take advantage of a much greater canvas, and users are coming to expect to navigate to additional content with a vertical swipe of their finger, rather than clicking the sandwich menu button.

As with everything, ‘long’ scroll needs to be within reason, but when leveraged effectively it provides an unparalleled opportunity to maintain a consistent user experience across devices.

Some of our favorite examples:

2. Image and Video Backgrounds
Multimedia has the power to make or break your user experience, and with great power comes great responsibility. We’ve written blog posts on the evolutionary reasons why people are drawn to image/video backgrounds, and the right and wrong ways to use them, and the bottom line is this – they’re here to stay.

When designing a website, your goal is always to convey to your audience, as quickly and effectively as possible, what your site (or individual page) is about, why they should care, and what they should do next. Image and video backgrounds can be enormously helpful to give context to a page/site/business without requiring the user to read.

3. Intentional Minimalism

Digital distractions have become ubiquitous, making it more important than ever to immediately and intuitively convey to a user who you are, what you do, and what you should do next. To make those messages bold and obvious, designers are moving more and more towards minimalistic design and copy.

As Mark Zuckerburg once said it:

The trick isn’t adding stuff; it’s taking away.
Of course, we’d like to point to our own website as an example, but to be more objective – let’s examine tempo.ai, pictured here. Run it through the test – after briefly glancing at this screenshot of their landing page, can you answer who they are, what they do, and what you should do next? Boom, intentional minimalism done right.
You have virtually no opportunity for distractions, and their 1 line value proposition, paired with a clean product shot, tells you exactly who they are and what they do. The subtle orange ‘Download Tempo’ call to action is unmistakable without being distracting, and the face + text at the bottom the screen imply that there’s more to be found from scrolling down.

As you scroll tempo.ai, you’ll see that this design approach continues. Clean images, minimal text, and effective use of iconography. We don’t know who designed their site, but our hats are off to them.

4. Pithy Copy
At this point in this blog post, we’ve already well established that the ubiquity of digital distractions highlights the need to captivate a user’s attention and convey something useful to them as quickly and efficiently as possible. One way we’re seeing more and more people do that is by moving away from bland and boring writing in favor of fun/funny/exciting writing (or ‘Copy’, as it’s known in the web space).

Which of these sentences are you more likely to actually read, digest, and remember?

  1. We build pretty cool websites.
  2. We’re a creative agency focused on designing and delivering web based digital assets for small to medium businesses.

The takeaway here – get to the point, get there fast, and do it in a quick and easily understandable way.

5. Scroll Triggered Parallax and Animation
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a moving picture worth? No, not a movie or animation, a moving picture. Not sure what I mean? Take a look at these examples:
Given the (already thoroughly discussed) importance of immediately engaging users and providing them with useful information, all without distracting them from the content, scroll triggered and parallax based animation is absolutely brilliant. It’s an incredibly powerful story telling tool, and like all powerful tools – they can be disastrous when used ineffectively and/or too often.

If it’s aiding text, the goal is to use it subtly (see Apple and Only Coin examples). If it’s serving as it’s own standalone content, the goal is to interestingly convey something useful (see Sony example).

With ever increasing broadband speeds and new/improved design languages to empower these sorts of features, you should expect to see A LOT more of this over the next year.

The Moral of the Story

Users’ tolerance for poor UI/UX is constantly diminishing, and it’s more important than ever to engage users and get your message across without making them think. If you’re thinking about updating or overhauling your website in the near future, take these lessons to heart when you begin your planning and wire framing.

It’s your turn now, internet. What are you going to do next? 

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