The online landscape is constantly changing, and trends come and go. However, there are some that will persist (with some updates and modifications) and become staples in web design.
It is hard to predict what will happen, but if you do your research, you can better equip yourself to work towards the future. Last year, we saw an example of this pattern with the rise of responsive design; here are some of my predictions of web design trends and changes we might see in 2014.
#1 - Focus on Mobile Browsing
Responsive design was slow to take off when it first came about, but we saw a large responsive movement in design this last year. The basis of responsive design is coding your website work perfectly on all platforms, starting first with mobile. Every day, more and more people are visiting your site on mobile devices for convenience. There is no point in creating a separate mobile site when you can make your site responsive to adapt to all viewports and devices, especially since new platforms hit the market every week.
#2 - Evolving Flat Design
Everyday we’re seeing more sites move to a minimalist style with "flat" graphics. Flat design has been trending for a while, and while its beauty lies in its simplicity, I believe that it will evolve into much more. We’ve already seen this with the "long-shadows" trend that became popular shortly after.
I believe flat design still has a quite a way to go in the coming year; I foresee designers working to add more layering, depth, graduations in color, and more visual distinctions back into sites but in subtle and polished ways.
I also see the hipster side of design finding its way into flat design with more hand-styled design, craftsmanship, big photos, and clean typography. Web design doesn’t follow one trend for very long before it becomes stagnant. So, with a slow and steady progression and improvements, I think flat design will evolve into more of a standard starting point than a trend in design.
#3 - More Motion in Design
We’ve seen this in the past with Parallax sites, but as they progress with the help of HTML5 and CSS3, we will see a growing trend toward one-page sites that excite the senses and incorporate video into sites as a main visual. Take the Coin website, for example:
This is a great example of how to use Parallax Scrolling design. The website features a large video at the top explaining the product and how it works, and then as you scroll down, the site builds right before your eyes with motion in all of the visual elements. I foresee this trend being more effective as an element in full sites or stand-alone pages for specific products. It will create more user engagement and result in a more meaningful experience.
Great web design is always about the journey and experience; the more simple and enjoyable the better! While we will see it used in beautiful ways, I anticipate that many designers will abuse it and create sites that are overstimulating and thus annoy the end user. Just remember to keep it simple.
I also see more designers moving over to using SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphics) instead of images and using them for flat design, responsive icons, and animation. SVGs are supported by almost all current browsers in their basic forms, and they load much more quickly, making the web easier and more user-friendly.
#4 - Micro UX
Micro UX (User Experience) will be the key to great web design in the future. Paying close attention to microscopic details can help a site stand out from the crowd. Like many other things, it doesn’t need to be overdone, but when used lightly and properly micro UX can really bring a website to life. I see designers moving more in this direction to engage users, especially in the evolution of flat design.
#5 - Typography Experimentation
Whether or not you’re a typophile, typography is beautiful and it tells a story. This year, I believe we’ll see more designers stepping out of the box and trying new type and ever more handset typography. While many will stick to the basics and keep it simple with Helvetica, I foresee a growth in experimentation with typography as the main element in websites, telling a story of its own.