Eight Web Design Trend Predictions For 2015

DesignPredictions

The thing about predicting the future is that it’s easy to make broad, sweeping guesses about where things are headed. If, like Nostradamus, you’re vague enough, you’ll be lauded as a prophet hundreds of years on. It’s not so easy when making predictions about tech, an industry that seems to see revolutions every year or so.

That said, I’d like to offer up a few specific predictions on web design trends and best practices you’re likely to see in 2015 and beyond.

The rise of SVG (finally)

SVG adoption has been slower than I anticipated, perhaps because it is a very different workflow than people are used to. Still, I fully expect SVG will finally make a huge push forward this year.

For those not in the know, SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. An SVG is an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation. The SVG specification is an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The best part about SVGs is that they are essentially mathematical equations that, when scaled, recalculate the line as to not lose any detail or become pixelated. This also leads to a smaller file size for most graphics than traditional formats such as PNGs, JPGs and GIFs.

No More IE

With Microsoft’s Project Spartan — a new browser in development by Microsoft — on its way, IE will become even more of a relic of the past. That’s not to say this change will take place overnight, but in only a little more than a year, IE11 has taken 50 percent of all IE market share and is continuing to rise. Microsoft has made user upgrades a top priority and I see IE10 and older versions making their way to a less than 5 percent market share in less than a year after the Windows 10 release, which ships with Project Spartan, later this year.

Material Design

Google unveiled its Material Design Guidelines in June 2014 and it has gained widespread acceptance among native mobile app designers. Material Design is a set of guidelines that lay out everything from how specific elements should appear to timing of animations and even types of icons. These guidelines have been thoroughly tested and researched with users in mind. This year, I believe Material Design will make a big splash in the web design world

More meaningful interaction design and UX

The days of boring, static brochure-based sites have come and gone. Today’s designers are focusing on user interactions and experience. While some sites have gone overboard with animation, thanks to the freedom of the (new-ish) CSS3 specs, I believe this is the year that will mark smarter, more targeted animations and interactions that give users better feedback on what is happening on a site. This is the year when designers will choose to delight and surprise users with helpful interactions and UX.

Typography and Content take Center Stage

Content is king.

That is one of the first lessons I learned as a web designer. That motto came from an essay written by none other than Bill Gates back in 1996 and it still holds true today. Users go to a website to be either informed, entertained or both. The only way to give them that is to make the content the focal point of a website.

That’s where typography comes in. How type on a website is designed will largely affect how the content of a site is perceived. Small, hard-to-read type (think legal print) will be immediately dismissed, along with anything that has low contrast, is overly long or has no hierarchy. A full brief on good typography is too long for this article, but suffice it to say good typography leads to more easily digestible content, which leads to happier users.

More Emphasis on Art Direction

With the rise of self-service website creation software such as Webflow, Square Space and Wix, more people are skipping hiring a designer in order to create their own websites. The result is that freelancers and agencies are stepping up their game. Art direction is crucial to today’s website workflow in order to provide the services you just can’t get from a self-service software.

An Art Director’s job is more or less exactly what it sounds like: to create a direction for the design of a website. Self-service sites only give a set of templates that try to satisfy everyone’s needs which, in the end, satisfies nobody. To be sure, many of them look great at the start, but without design knowledge behind them rarely do they succeed in the wild.

Performance

Screens are getting bigger, designs are getting more complex, Internet connection speeds are getting better, but they still are lacking. Nothing kills a great design with perfect content faster than not being able to see your website for the 5-10 seconds while it loads. Designers and Developers need to take the time to add a performance QA into their workflow.

Here at Noble, we use many techniques to ensure our websites are blazing fast, such as:

  • Image optimization and compression
  • Using vector (SVG) graphics where applicable
  • Combining similar code into a single file to serve to webpages
  • Minifying files
  • Loading appropriate assets only when a user calls for them
  • Server-side caching
  • Non-blocking code

Fewer Clicks, More Scrolling

Users scroll. They’re used to it. They like it. It comes naturally to them. So let them do it.

I am not saying that every page should be a 10,000 pixel long page. Clicks have their place, but the data is in and the scroll is the winner. Here are some of the highlights of the research I’ve read.

  • Scrolling is faster than clicking.
  • Scrolling is a passive, continuous action. Clicking is a decision. 90 percent of the page views were long enough to contain a scroll-bar. Of those, 76 percent were scrolled to some extent. 22 percent of the page views with a scroll-bar were scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page.
  • Visitors are equally likely to scan the entire page no matter the page size.
  • The most clicked item on the TMZ homepage is the link at the very bottom of the page that takes users to the next page. Note that the TMZ homepage is often over 15,000 pixels long.

With that being said, I feel I have to give clicking its due. Clicks are better at organizing content and keeping things in context. Clicks are easier to track within analytics. Content is easier to share when it has its own page. (This means you have to click on something to get there.)

So. Come December 2015, will these predictions hold up? While they may not all occur overnight, I feel design will gradually evolve to include all of these changes over the next couple of years.

Stay tuned.