Ten Web Design/Development Trends for 2015

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Design trends come and go. Many design trends are useful and beneficial while others are purely form over function. These are some design trends I expect will continue to gain traction during 2015.

The web and graphic design trends below include typography, responsive design, graphic choices, and a focus on content, speed, and users. To be fair, most of these are best practices rather than trends; still, the trend will actually be more developers, designers, and businesses increasing their focus and awareness on these trends.

  1. Full Width Video and Graphic Heros
    Ditch that slider/carousel now! Full width videos at the top of websites give a clear message about what the site has to offer; bold text and motion allow for focused and direct messaging. Carousels and sliders are notoriously ineffective. Study after study shows the average user ignores the majority of information in a carousel or slider. One single full-screen message gets the attention of a visitor and forces the owner of a site to concentrate on a single message per section.
  2. SVG Images
    With wide browser support and small file-sizes, SVG images are ripe for use on sites. There are many reasons SVG beats PNG, GIF, and JPG. You can: animate strokes and fills with CSS; embed directly in HTML and JavaScript code; and most importantly, you can scale the file without a loss in quality. The ability to scale images while remaining crisp is more important than ever with Retina and 4k displays becoming the new norm.
  3. Mobile First
    This has been a trend (if not the norm) for a couple of years. Mobile use is growing and every site should have a mobile-first approach. 84% of my visitors use a mobile phone or tablet. Of all the sites I work with, 76% are accessed using a mobile or tablet device. Plus, Google is now listing sites as mobile-friendly; this likely means it will start ranking mobile-friendly sites higher—especially when searching on a mobile device.
  4. Performance
    Performance shouldn’t have to be a trend, but often performance isn’t the priority of the client (or the developer). With limited bandwidth and smaller processors, mobile devices can only handle so much. Sites should be getting retuned for faster mobile page loads with lighter code and appropriate file sizes. For most mobile users, time is more important than ever. Actual and perceived speed will become a growing focus for many developers (and site owners). A slow-loading site will get ignored. No one likes to wait.
  5. Typography
    As the web matures, many are remembering content is still king. Just because type is the bulk of all sites doesn’t mean it has to be boring. With the growth of web fonts and CSS3, I expect bolder type choices and layouts. Using motion and dynamic typesetting, sites can take boring headlines and paragraphs and bring them to life like newspapers, magazines and motion graphics have for decades. Responsive typography will become the norm. Varying reading distances and viewport sizes means that one type scale won’t necessarily work for all experiences. Designers will need to up their typographic game in 2015 and beyond.
  6. Depth
    With Google’s Material design standards and Apple’s new minimalist iOS 8 standards, the web is becoming cleaner and flatter. One thing these two systems get right is depth; both use shadows and blurs to  create a layered world within our viewports. We’ll see both systems heavily influence 2015 web and graphic design.
  7. Brand Standards and Systems
    With more and more businesses understanding that they are or should be a brand, expect brand systems to become more commonplace—even for mom and pop shops. With the web (and social media) allowing consumers to eavesdrop and interact with businesses, it is more important than ever for small businesses to establish brand standards and systems (voice and language, logo usage, brand colors, appropriate photo usage, etc) to provide a consistent experience across all mediums.
  8. Mobile Optimized Email Marketing
    HTML emails suck. More specifically, Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo as mail clients suck. They make the life of an HTML email developer/designer hell. With a growing number of clients using mobile mail apps (built into the OS), the opportunity for dynamic, responsive emails is becoming a reality… Finally. Many email marketers are moving from basic, table-filled HTML emails to responsive designs that speak to mobile clients. More sophisticated email designers will be incorporating animated GIFs and actual video. The key with this trend is to know your market. If 90% of your readers are using Outlook on a desktop, you’re stuck. If 80% are using mobile devices, now’s the time to explore the exciting new options for HTML email design.
  9. Bespoke Sites
    The templated, flat look of 2014 will grow up. Sites may still use frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation, but they’ll hijack only what they need using Sass or LESS and create custom styles for every component of the site. Good clients (and designer/developers) are realizing a truly outstanding website doesn’t look like everyone else’s and needs a bespoke design that reflects their brand and has a unique presence.
  10. Focused Messaging Without Clutter
    Navigation is already being replaced and minimized. It will continue to become more discreet or disappear entirely (think single page sites). User flow is dictated by the body of the website while large content blocks with simple calls-to-action will continue to dominate. I like to believe less is more and feel this will become a continuing trend in 2015 as businesses (and site owners) continue to focus their content and messaging. A page should practically have one call to action. Sure, secondary CTAs may be necessary, but designers and businesses must decide what the key CTA is and make it shine without competition. If you don’t know the primary action a user should take on each page, you need to re-evaluate why the page exists… Expect renewed focus on storytelling and user flow in 2015 that direct users to act rather than click around aimlessly.

Did I miss a trend you think we’ll see more of during 2015, or is there one that needs to fade as soon as possible?