I have been reading up and taking a look at the various design showcases around the web recently and whilst I must admit I am a fan of the current web design trends, it’s all starting to appear very similar. Sure, designers out there add their own special touch and some designers are obviously better than others but the layouts are looking virtually the same. In truth, web design should be classed as art and the designers creativity should shine through but in reality, that doesn’t happen and people time after time produce the same style template time after time.
I was recently looking back at articles outlining the design trends for 2015 so I thought I’d see how far we’ve come over the past 6 months or so and to see (if anything) had changed with regards to what people are producing and how we’re seeing sites in 2016. Throughout this article I’ll look at and discuss some of the common recurring themes.
Common Design Layouts
One thing is for sure, most people these days seem to be using third party (purchased) templates which whilst having different designers are tending to look the same in terms of layout. Sure, if you’re running a big custom project with a big budget you can opt for a custom design but 90% of the websites out there cannot afford to do this so they’re stuck with templates. The problem I see it is whilst designers obviously have the ability to think outside the box, when it comes to selling their templates, they’re going to stick to a tried and tested formula. Take ThemeForest for example, if you wanted to design a template to sell to the public, what do you do? You look for other themes that have a lot of sales and try to do something similar. This snowballs and leads to thousands, maybe tens of thousands of templates whilst looking slightly different all having the same framework or layout. Some may argue that’s not a bad thing but it certainly surpresses creativity. I would expect this trend to continue as very free template designers are going to risk their time designing something that may or not work – they’re going to stick to the tried and tested formula.
Less is More
Minimalistic designs are of course nothing new. They’ve been around since the dawn of the Internet but these days, they’re more popular than ever. Part of this is due to the wide array of frameworks available such as Bootstrap but most of it is solely because it’s all about your content. People these days are fairly tech-savvy, they’re not viewing web sites in awe anymore, they want and crave information presented in a clean, clear and concise way. The template design is not as important as it used to be. Obviously it still needs to look professional but a basic/clean design is now deemed as a thing of beauty just like old graphic-heavy web designs were back in the early 2000’s! One look at Dribbble and you’ll see what I’m talking about, fantastic and unique art work but all with a common look and feel.
Ditch The Graphics
Following on from the above, heavy graphics are a thing of the past. All you need in terms of graphics these days on your web design is a logo and stock photography, that is pretty much it. Your logo is important as that’s your brand and the correct stock photography positioned in the right place is what can make or break your information. Splash imagery is also popular but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Just like with the base design, less is more and a seldom stock photo rather than your design being innundated with graphical theme elements will work wonders.
UI/UIX More Important Than Showcasing Art Skills
The user interface and the user experience should be at the forefront of every designers mind as this is all because of the way we consume information and the sheer amount of it. Back in the day, designers used to create designs that virtually showcased every coding or that they could think of and viewing a website was as much about the visual look of it as well as the information it contained. Fast forward to 2016 and this is no longer the case. Information is rife and you can find the same information on just about any subject on a variety of web pages. To compete with that you need to make the information the focus of the website and not the design. Designers know this which is why designs are becoming more and more content focused and the design itself is taking a back seat. They say content is king and this has never been more true in 2016. A clean user interface and workflow is the key to success.
Get It Shared
Given the competition levels with potentially hundreds of people competing in any one sector, promotion of your website is becoming more and more important and getting harder and harder to gain any traction. Sharing elements such as Twitter/Facebook icons in highly prominent positions are now seen on virtually every website and page of that website. If you have content, you need a way to get as many eyes on it as possible and having prominent social sharing elements above, in with and below your content is a great way to achieve this. In fact in most cases you see the ability to share the content before you read the content itself. Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be debated but it’s certainly understandable.