11 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018

Customer Experience · Digital Marketing

With 2018 just around the corner, we look at 11 web design trends you should consider using. Balancing aesthetics with functionality is a difficult act, but get it right and you'll set yourself up for increased user engagement and higher conversion rates. Find out how you can improve your online presence with these 11 actionable tips.

1. Making Mobile a Priority

According to Statista, “In 2016, 43.6 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 35.1 percent in the previous year.” It’s true that the importance of mobile-friendly web design has been increasing for the past several years, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Now, in the first half of 2018, Google will be rolling out its new Mobile First Index, placing more importance on the mobile version of your website by making it the first to be seen in the search results. This means that your website must have mobile-friendly design.

In 2016, 43.6 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 35.1 percent in the previous year. - Statista

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are also becoming more important. If you haven’t already heard about AMP, it’s an open-source coding standard for publishers that allows them to load their sites quickly on mobile. Traditional mobile websites can be a bit clunky, but AMP ramps up the mobile experience by stripping down code, using external resources for media files and running scripts in parallel to allow pages to load instantly.

Whether you are designing a brand-new site or retrofitting any existing site, AMP is a must for 2018. No potential customer likes a page that loads slowly, and you don’t want to push prospects to one of your (faster) competitors.

2. Irregular Grid Layouts

Grid layouts provide an easy way for designers to tie all of the elements of their web pages together, giving each page a theme and making it easier to navigate. This design theory has been around forever, but there's been a shift in the way they're being used.

Many content management systems, including popular platforms such WordPress, use grid design as the basis of their templates. In March 2017, CSS grid was introduced to provide designers with more options. In 2018, we’ll see a shift toward designers using more neutral space and more irregular grid layouts for an ultra-modern design style. Simple styles that include the use of whitespace (or negative space) makes content stand out so that it’s easier to read and navigate. These styles are also easier on the eyes, encouraging users to spend more time on your site. 

3. Bold Fonts & Bright Colors

To complement these modern design styles, you’ll need type font that stands out. Bold font styles help users focus on your content, while the whitespace makes it easier to read and skim through. Together, they’re a perfect complement. Because people typically only spend a few seconds, up to a couple of minutes, looking at your pages, you need to catch their attention with colors and designs that stand out. The goal is to create an easy and enjoyable experience for the user to keep them on your site for as long as possible and eventually convert them into paying customers.

In 2018, we may also see these fonts and colors taking the place of images. This makes sense for mobile especially. Unlike images, which slow pages down, scaling the size of your typography won’t impact performance. It also creates cleaner lines on your page that helps your calls-to-action pop. Large buttons, hero images, and clickable images are going out of style and making way for large typographic expressions. 

Good web design rules.

4. Increase in Micro-Interactions

Facebook and other social media networks have made micro-interactions extremely popular. Users love the ability to contribute a variety of reactions to posts and private messages, from the traditional “liking” of posts, all the way to a flurry of animated hearts you witness when you share the love in private Facebook messages. These micro-interactions allow the user to interact with others without reloading the page.

This is different to the traditional static website user experience, which requires users to reload pages to take action, such as submitting a review. Such a scenario may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it creates a speedbump for customers that will cause some of them to bounce from the page, meaning you lose out on potential conversions. Micro-interactions help level out these speed bumps and provide users with richer interactions.

Using micro-interactions on your site in 2018 will allow users to communicate real-time and increase the speed and connectivity that they have come to expect in a mobile-connected world.

5. More Advanced Scroll Triggered Animations

Scrolled animation triggers encourage users to keep scrolling down your website pages with specifically triggered interactive elements that increase engagement. Here’s one great example of scroll triggered animation from Apple. These animation triggers are nothing new, but they have begun to be used in a new way. The best scroll triggered animations are minimalist, educational and strategic, designed to increase conversions.

Scroll triggered animations can also clean up the look and feel of your website. Instead of having a collection of buttons and menus, your site will convey a true, interactive experience for your users.

6. Top Sticky Elements vs. Bottom Sticky Elements

You know your users read from left to right, but have you thought about the fact that your users are getting used to clicking at the bottom of their smartphones or mobile apps to navigate? Since mobile app design is so important to modern web design, website developers are beginning to make sticky menu items scroll from the bottom of the site, as opposed to the top of the site’s pages. Progressive web apps are somewhat responsible from this design evolution, as developers start to design for modern functionality. 

7. Responsive Design

Responsive design is less of a trend than a principle, and it’s been around for a number of years. However, its importance cannot be overlooked. Responsive design is when your website is designed in a way that it resizes to look appealing across multiple screen sizes: mobile, tablets, TV, wearables or desktops.

Though the UX revolution has been happening for nearly a decade, it’s only recently been implemented on a wider scale. In 2018, we expect this design element will continue to expand to include new forms of technology such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

8. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

They may still sound like terms from a sci-fi film, but artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have hit the mainstream. In 2016, Google’s AlphaGo AI beat a skilled human Go player for the first time, a defeat that had long been sought after, and AI assistants like Siri are available on millions of devices.  So it comes as no surprise that Adobe’s Sensei promises to make AI tools easily available to web developers around the world, while TheGrid has been offering AI-based web designs since 2014. As AI and machine learning continue to advance, we’ll start to see them make their way into webdesign in other, more advanced ways.

9. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs)

Although they are not new, in 2018 you can expect this graphic format overtake more traditional file formats such as PNG, GIF and JPG. SVGs are vector images, not pixels, which gives them many advantages. They are incredibly scalable (while maintaining their quality), meaning they won’t affect page speed when animated because they don't’ require any HTTP requests. SVGs are essential to providing quality multimedia experiences for users in 2018 (360-degree views, 3D images and Cinemographs).

10. Progressive Web Apps

Apps make up a large portion of mobile media time, and web designers are started taking notice and blending the best of web and app behaviors. This hybrid creation is referred to as a Progressive Web App. In 2018, we’ll see a trend in upgrading websites to add elements such as animated page transitions, push notifications and splash screens. Some websites like Medium, are already there, offering apps that are easily accessible with a click. Such apps will continue to evolve to meet each user’s personalized tastes.

They are useful to users from the very first visit in a browser tab, no install required. As the user progressively builds a relationship with the app over time, it becomes more and more powerful. It loads quicker, even on flaky networks, sends relevant push notifications, has an icon on the home screen, and loads as a top-level, full-screen experience.

11. Internet of Things Connectivity

Connecting web services to the Internet of Things has been a huge trend in 2017, and it will continue on this path in 2018. IoT devices can include objects as simple as a refrigerator to as complicated as a tidal turbine. These “things” use sensor arrays and server-side processing to receive and act on their environments. APIs that allow web developers to connect and communicate with these devices are currently being created, leading to even more interconnectivity of the next several years.

APIs that allow web developers to connect and communicate with these devices are currently being created, leading to even more interconnectivity of the next several years

Simple, Functional, Futuristic Design in 2018

In 2018, the focus will be on designing simple but powerful websites that are well optimized for mobile devices and heavily focused on user experience. These sites will feature new types of formats, styles and technologies. Is your brand’s website ready for what 2018 has to bring? 

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