2017 Web Design Trends

Web Design 2017: What’s Coming Up and What’s Here to Stay
Posted on 12/28/2016
CivicLive - Web Design Trends of 2017

2016 saw a number of important changes to the world of design and user experience, and 2017 is shaping up to be no different. Here’s a look at which trends will continue to grow next year, and which will begin to fall behind. What is important to remember is that users of websites expect to interact with all of them in more or less the same way. The implication of this is that we can apply these trends to municipal website design, to ensure we’re giving consumers a consistent, yet still authentic experience.


“Flat” Design

Admittedly this is a trend that started as far back as 2006, but it has taken almost a decade for its power to be fully realized. Flat design is less of an actual style and more of a philosophy or roadmap for producing user interfaces that are easy to interact with. Minimalism is usually a word that springs to mind when we discuss flat design. To really understand what flat design is, it may actually be better to discuss what it isn’t. Websites that are not flat usually use some of the following:


3D effects/animations – This was a huge trend in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Filling your website with doodads and spinning objects used to be a way to attract users to certain parts of your site. Now those doodads clutter your page, and frustrate users (who have to load all of those assets before they can fully utilize your site!). You may also remember Windows 2000 and XP, which featured slight shadows around every text box and button to make it appear as if the buttons were popping out of the screen. This was a staple of website and software design a decade ago, but this trend has thankfully started to disappear from the web.



Windows - 3D example


This is an example of a message box from Windows 2000. 
As you can see, the shadows around the “OK” button make it look three dimensional.
This is a trend that we’re seeing rapidly disappear from the web.


Skeuomorphism – Skeuomorphism is the practice of taking real-world objects and digitizing them for the web to help users understand how to use that particular website or software. Probably the most famous example of this is Apple’s “ibook” bookshelf.



Apple's "ibook" bookshelf



Apple's "ibook" bookshelf. Image courtesy of “pcmag”


The tablets feature bookshelves that look to mimic the same bookshelf that sits in your living room at home. While Skeuomorphism can initially help users understand how to use your site by allowing them to draw from real world knowledge, pages can begin to look overdesigned and clunky.

The goal of flat design is to make your website as easy, simple and clutter-free as possible. Simple illustrations and colours, basic widget and menu design, and a lack of large animations are some hallmarks of good flat design methodologies. If you want to see some examples, head on over to Awwwards.


Frameless Wireframes

A wireframe is to website design as a blueprint is to architecture. A wireframe is basically a “blueprint for your screen”. If you open LinkedIn and head over to your profile, what you will see is a personalized version of LinkedIn’s profile wireframe. You will see your picture with your name just to the right of it. Your current title, employer and place of residence just below that. We’re seeing changes to wireframing by not making the frames as structured or regimented.


Mobile-First Design

Many have said that tablets and smartphones are bringing about the end of computers and laptops. While it isn’t the end for personal computers just yet, we are seeing more users interacting with websites primarily through their phones. Thinking of mobile optimization before desktop optimization is a growing trend.


Parallax and Long-Scroll Web Pages

One trend that is really catching fire is scrolling web pages. One common use of this is parallax. “Parallax scrolling” as it is commonly known is a web design technique where one part of the page moves at a much slower rate to the other to help create a three-dimensional effect. It is best to use parallax sparingly, as it can be resource intensive and many users find it overwhelming for the senses.


Parallax is but one example of a more general trend we’re seeing where a site is one super-long webpage instead of content being broken across multiple separate pages. The reason for this is that it can be frustrating or hard to have to flip back and forth through various pages to find content. Instead, there is a main menu with headings, and clicking on that heading takes you to the corresponding section of that page (instead of bringing you to an entirely different one). Tread carefully with this trend however. If your site takes too long to load, or if users have to scroll for too long to find necessary information, then they may not return.


Less Text, More Images

Images are being used more frequently to convey information, and large banner or background images are going to be seen more. Take a look at North Little Rock’s website to see what we mean. They opted for a large banner image for their welcome screen instead of long introductory paragraphs.


Images help entice users to click on certain content (similar to how those ugly 3D animations did decades ago). Having thoughtful images tied closely to content you want seen may help increase click throughs. Images can help guide your eyes to content, so by placing a large banner or bold image alongside important text, you increase the chance that users will read that content.


Hamburgers are No Longer the Only Thing on the Menu

While the hamburger menus have been a web designer’s “go-to” choice for the last three to four years, website menu options are now expanding. As more people began using their mobile device as their primary form of communication, web design had to change to meet these devices and their users’ evolving preferences. As a result, we have a variety of new styles of menus, bars and tabs to choose from when building a website or mobile application. Instagram both has a “ribbon” at the bottom of their pages with frequently used sections. Snapchat actually hides the menu completely off screen; you have to swipe left, right, up or down to reach different parts of the app. While each style improves the user experience in its own way, hamburger menus appear to still be favored for building websites due to their ease of implementation and user recognition.


Conclusion

The web design and fashion industries seem to emulate each other. What quickly rises in popularity may actually fall out of favor only a few years later (although we hear that bell bottom jeans are making a comeback!) The important thing to remember about any web design trend is to consider an “audience first” philosophy. Make sure that you are creating engaging content for your users first, and then determine how best to show it to them. At CivicLive, we offer a 100% Design Guarantee, and regular redesigns help keep your website up to date with the latest features.


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