22 web trends every designer should know

Web trends for 2016

The web never stops evolving. 2015 was a year of increasing device diversity, amazing scripting smarts, gorgeous image-rich news sites, and a clamouring from some to recognise the fact not everyone has super-fast broadband and 4G mobile connectivity.

But what will we see as we head further in to 2016? New website builders? Will the Internet of Things finally become a proper thing? Will tellies and wearables further impact on what you design? And what other styles and tech will influence designers, developers and thinkers? 

To find out, we asked leaders in those fields to predict the trends that will truly matter over the coming months...

01. Advertising

Happy Cog founder Jeffrey Zeldman says content sites and sponsors must address advertising in 2016: "The public has spoken: anti-user patterns do not work. As responsive web design focuses on content and performance, ad-blocking becomes the norm and people reject grotesque privacy intrusions, the industry will be forced to change for the better."

The public has spoken: anti-user patterns do not work

Andy Beaumont, CTO at Hactar, believes otherwise: “2016 will be a year of really shitty advertising, where we’ll look back fondly at 2015’s overlays and modal pop-ups. When Apple legitimised ad-blocking, publishers panicked and ad networks began creating workarounds, the ultimate goal being ads that can leap out of your screen and smash you in the face until you Like a Facebook page.”

02. Animation

Designer Mike Kus thinks people will get creative with animation: "It's common to employ small animations to provide users with feedback for actions, resulting in a smoother, more seamless experience, especially when used cleverly to disguise loading times." In 2016, elaborate use of animation and film will "enhance the visual appeal of websites and support storytelling on the web".

03. Bespoke illustration

Web trends for 2016

Oli Lisher, who worked on heroiclabs.com, hopes to see more bespoke illustration in 2016, instead of yet more over-familiar photo banners

llustrator Oli Lisher hopes to see more bespoke illustration in 2016: "Custom assets make brands stand out. This is essential online, where everything is starting to look similar." He says the explosion in popularity for massive header photography is becoming samey, and that illustration is a memorable alternative that can "set you apart and help describe difficult concepts".

04. Big-Brand influence

Web trends for 2016

Simon Manchipp praises Channel 4’s new idents for their innovative approach to design and branding

SomeOne co-founder Simon Manchipp draws attention to the influence big brands can have in kicking off trends, and urges people to check out Channel 4’s new idents: "They're mental. Completely different from what everyone else is doing. Not a logo in sight." He suggests, instead of following a visual trend, focusing more on how design and branding works.

05. Client-side app approaches

Developer Jack Franklin thinks 2015 was "dominated by ReactJS and its new approach to modelling user interfaces". For 2016, he anticipates that tooling and UI ideas will develop and mature, with libraries like GraphQL and Falcor that "rethink how interfaces should talk to and fetch data from servers" becoming more popular.

06. Connected hardware

Designer and developer Ruth John (www.rumyrashead.com) predicts a "big increase in the popularity of hardware connected with web technologies, through the growth of APIs like Web Bluetooth and Web MIDI, finally bringing us exciting demonstrations of the Internet of Things".

07. CSS Grid layout

Web design consultant Eric Meyer says support is coming for CSS Grid Layout faster than people realise, and it will revolutionise how we approach and build layouts. He explains that as it's so different and powerful, it will require much "unlearning, breaking of habits and retraining", but "combined with responsive design, it will be a truly potent combination".

08. Data ownership

Mud developer Cole Henley says discussions around data ownership will be big in 2016: "Growing commercial and government pressures – whether debating net neutrality or weakeningencryption to improve surveillance – will find us looking at a potentially fundamental shift in the premise of the open web." Unless we stand up for the liberties and privacy we today enjoy online, Henley says we'll "lose the web as we know it".

09. Design leadership

James Box, director of UX at Clearleft, predicts 2016 will see a rise in demand for design leadership. He says organisations have been investing in design in a bid to embrace the so-called 'digital transformation', but this investment "doesn't always equate to impact".

Companies wanting to move beyond superficial design towards "holistic customer experiences" and a solid design culture will need help. Box sees this playing out through organisations hiring in-house managers or having consultants mentor their teams.

10. In-house teams

Consultant Sally Jenkinson reckons 2016 will see "greater investment into in-house teams, leading to more outside partners changing their offerings so they are increasingly focused on collaboration, training, and consultancy". This blend of in-house teams and outside specialist expertise could be a boon for focus and sustainability, and a "great learning experience for all".

11. Feed-based design

Tom Muller, associate creative director at Code and Theory, says mobile devices are changing how people consume content. 2016 will therefore see a move towards feed-based design, where people "dip in and out of news and context streams that deliver content in a visually rich, easily scannable, 'snackable' format".

The homepage's importance will diminish, and streams will be structured to "retain and increase traction in an environment where we need to marry depth of content with economy of time".

Next page: 11 more web design trends every deisgner shoud know...

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Craig Grannell

Craig is an editor, writer and designer. He writes about design and tech, specialising in Mac, iPhone and iPad, and has written for Creative Bloq, Stuff, TechRadar, MacFormat, The Guardian, Retro Gamer and more. You can view more of his writing on his blog, Revert to Saved