When Tim Berners-Lee published the first website in 1991, the world bore witness to the future. Representing that future was a simple, text-based page with a few links.
Web design has come a long way since then. Each passing year saw the industry evolve without showing any signs of slowing down. Every year, we see web design trends that seem to push the envelope, only to see another year of innovations that make the ones before them seem dated.
For 2017, the following trends are the ones making a big splash in the world of web design. At least until 2018 arrives.
Color, color everywhere
Color plays a crucial role in attracting users to a site. It also helps increase conversions. But color took a backseat in 2016 when minimalist web design was all the rage. While minimalism is here to stay, websites with simple, function-first designs are now getting a splash of brighter and more exuberant colors.
What's amazing is that designers are finding ways to infuse their web designs with more color, without messing up a simple and user-friendly layout. The people behind Labor Fit and Asana surely know how to do that.
Larger, bolder, more prominent typeface
Is bigger better? Not necessarily. But does it grab your attention? Definitely. That's why more and more web designers are going for a typeface that takes up more screen space and is displayed prominently above the fold. If glossy magazines and TV shows like Mr. Robot can get away with larger typography, why can't websites do the same?
From all indications, text is becoming more important than ever. In-your-face representations are also going to get bigger and bolder. Check out how Gummisig and Big Youth draw your eyes in with big, screaming letters.
Many web pages are now carrying whimsical patterns and shapes. Some of the circles, squares and triangles that are taking over websites are large enough to spot. Some are a little more subtle. The less conspicuous geometric shapes are often used to make navigating or reading the content easier. They are also employed to make visual divots for buttons or CTAs look more interesting than usual. See the geometric design employed by Rally Interactive and Anet Design.
More animation and effects
Web designers have been using animation in their work for some time. Now, with rapidly-advancing technology giving them a virtually bottomless toolbox, they can make higher-quality, fun and attention-grabbing animations like this one:
Or this one:
Still, web designers have to be careful not to do animation for animation's sake. Ideally, animation should be subtle. It's supposed to complement and reinforce a website's brand and message, not draw all the attention to itself. Content also tends to take forever to load if you overdo animation.
More card-based web design
If there's one website to credit for the rise of card-based web design, it would have to be Pinterest. Content tiles like the ones you see in the wildly-successful "Catalog of Ideas" are in wide use today, particularly in news and social feeds. The success of content tiles at delivering clear content means they are going to be a staple of web design in 2017 and the years to come. Stanford Law School knows it, and so does Fonar.
More authentic photos
Over the last few years, the use of cringe-inducing stock photos has reached epidemic proportions. Even news sites have taken to using the most generic images possible in their stories. It's a good thing that more and more websites are now dumping stock photos for bespoke pictures that relate to brands or companies better. Many web designers even use images of the members of a company's team to put a face to the brand. Look at how Grain and Mortar and Codeship do it.
We have seen many designers and brands embrace the principle of asymmetry in their websites in 2016. In 2017, even more web designers are going for layouts that are not balanced on the left and right sides in the traditional way. As long as designers do it with clever use of space, scale, and color, asymmetric design can make a site appear balanced and very creative. Appropriately, the Dada movement captures that ideal. So does this French designer.
Everybody's into responsive web design these days. Adaptive images are a crucial element of responsive web design. They look fantastic on any device, among other things. For adaptive images, the best format to use would be SVG or scalable vector graphics. Being resolution-independent, images in SVG format will always look amazing on any screen size, be it desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Check out SVG sites like Timepot and Vivid Motion.
To give web pages more striking visuals, many web designers have taken to using cinemagraphs in their work. Cinemagraphs are high-quality videos or GIFs that run on a smooth, continuous loop. With the way they add movement to an otherwise static page, cinemagraphs can definitely hold the attention of visitors for a while longer. Find out if this site can keep you staring at the screen for more than just a glance.
Employing split screens is becoming popular among web designers. After all, they allow for content diversity. They also make the connection between two distinct pieces of content even stronger. A split screen could be a visually striking photo for one half, and a navigation menu for the other. The result is a screen that's dynamic and definitely appealing. The websites for The Ocean and EngineThemes have split screens down pat.
For years, web designers have been going for a flat or minimalistic design for their work. While it looks like minimalism will remain popular in the industry for years to come, many designers are already bucking this trend by incorporating bespoke illustrations into their websites.
Unique illustrations are a great way of injecting some much-needed personality to a website. They add an element of fun and make any site seem more playful and friendly. More than that, illustrations can also be made to match the tone of the brand being carried by the website. That is something brands and companies will be going for these days in a marketplace that’s getting more crowded by the day.
Check out LegWork and TMFO for fine examples of bespoke illustrations in web design.
With all these developments, 2017 is proving to be an exciting year for web design. We can only expect more new and exciting innovations with the passing of years. That's why web designers should keep their eyes peeled for new trends that may pop up from nowhere.
Bio: Stephanie Santos is a writer for My Biz Niche. She’s been writing a lot about web design for some time now, but she also enjoys writing about various topics related to the Internet and consumer electronics.