Web design trends that will attempt to disrupt expectations and captivate web users in 2018.
Trends in web design and the creative world, in general, are in a constant state of change. By no means do web design trends go through a magical metamorphosis overnight on December 31. However, this time of year allows for a small window to step away from the grind and reflect on what we’ve accomplished in the last year and what we expect to come in the next.
Website design is complicated, personal and subjective. This article is not to comment or focus on any particular type or style of web design, but the application of design thought and theory.
It’s an interesting study to look forward and attempt to predict what will become the new ‘normal’ regarding web design because it’s exciting to expect change and innovation in our digital world. However, what is most exciting is that much of the time we’ll be wrong, and when we stop to look back on 2018 a year from now, it’s fascinating to observe which web design trends captivated web designers and which failed to take root. I believe looking at these ideas and attempting to understand why a web design trend worked and another did not is important for furthering our understanding or how users are interacting with the work created by our Toronto web design company.
1. Illustrative Website Design
A familiar bottleneck web designers often experience in their project workflow is image selection. Whether it’s a scavenger hunt to find just the right image to best communicate brand messaging or a battle against a grainy, low resolution, close-cropped image the client swears their “professional photographer” friend took just for this project, the struggle is real.
What I can see happening now and expect to play a more significant role in website design this year is the use of custom illustration in place of a traditional photograph. I can’t say why precisely this trend began to gain momentum last year, but in 2018 I bet we’re going to see even more reliance on this design style.
Perhaps it’s just the cyclical nature of art and design – remember illustration dominated design up until the late 60’s – but if we consider the advantages of this design approach it becomes clear there are benefits in our modern use of the web today.
Illustrated graphics are simpler, lighter and easier to serve up than typical raster images. Not only can we load more of them faster, but we can also use SVG (scalable vector graphics) to instantly scale these images up and down without losing any clarity at all. If we consider the advantages of SVG in responsive website design, it almost seems silly to use raster-based graphics.
Additionally, illustrated graphics can also be converted into light-weight animated gifs to add another touch of visual interest and magic to a website design where photographs tend to fall short once again.
2. Broken Grid Layouts
Web designers, by way of education or nature, are guided by the grid. There’s no perfect grid, and there’s no one standard grid, but almost all design uses on a grid system. There are purists and those that continuously aim to challenge the system looking for a weakness to exploit and for the first time in what seems like forever, create something “new”.
The truth is we need the grid. Our human minds work in such a way that chaos or unordered information causes us stress and anxiety. For the most part, all humans want information presented in a neat and orderly way so that our brains can process and understand it one beautiful little piece at a time.
Grid systems provide harmony in website design. A critical fundamental in user experience design is ensuring that the interface design is predictable for users and that they can anticipate what reaction (if any) will follow an action they take.
All this aside, an experienced website designer has the experience to knowingly break the grid and still create the visual harmony our souls seek by using another design principle – balance. Breaking the grid system in website design can be both challenging and incredibly rewarding for a designer.
The underlying reality here is that the grid system is still in use and serves as a foundation for the web design, but individual elements may break free from their uniform constraints spilling into another area of the grid. Maintaining a responsive website design that can be controlled across the various viewports and also relies on this unknown factor.
Broken grid layouts pose a challenge to web designer and web developers alike, but if executed carefully, the results are guaranteed to turn some heads.
3. Web Design Elements Become More Organic
Traditionally, web design has relied heavily on rigid geometric design elements. Since the birth of responsive web design and scalable graphics, web design has slowly become more organic. As designers begin to experiment more with broken grid layouts and illustrated design elements, I suspect we will start to see web designers treat the screen as a genuine digital canvas and web design itself may take on a more fluid and artistic persona rather than a traditional regimented design perspective.
This design trend really picked up speed last year as we saw the social giants begin making subtle design updates to their user interfaces. We noticed exaggerated rounded corners on buttons, forms and other design elements that eventually translated to profile images and other UI elements.
Regarding website design, we began to see more organic design exploration in background images independent of the primary UI elements that help create some truly inspiring responsive web design experiences across the web.
4. More Reliance on Interactions and Animation for Page Transitions
If you think about your navigational experience on just about every website you’ve ever been to the method and flow is pretty consistent. You click on a button or a link, and the page you were viewing disappears and the new page loads – hopefully just a second or two later.
What if we could take that experience that is necessary and common among all websites and make it unique to a specific brand or product. What if we could create an animated page transition or interaction within our website designs that replaces the familiar stop-go-stop-go to which we are all accustomed.
If we begin to explore and carefully design our navigational or page transition experiences I believe we can add more than just visual or experiential interest. We could push branding into common website functions that very few are taking advantage of yet.
5. The Perfect Web Design Tool
In recent years, we’ve seen the web design industry welcome new and exciting design tools like Sketch, Adobe Experience Design and a new offering from InVision. Having spent so many years working in Adobe Photoshop I find it incredibly challenging and almost heartbreaking to turn away from my reliable old friend, but it’s undeniable that the new generation of website design and UI software is taking website design to another level and making the web design process much more efficient.
With tools like Sketch and Adobe XD web designers can quickly whip up new interfaces that are easily scaled for responsive layouts and can export graphics at various resolutions making those pesky Retina images a complete non-issue. What might be most exciting about these newer offerings is that you can link layouts and elements together saving you loads of time during the revision process.
Perhaps the most exciting new web design tool on the market comes from InVision Studio. This powerful prototyping tool allows web designers, clients and web developers to all collaborate in the browser to create beautiful fluid UI designs. Once the artwork is approved, the web development team can step in and export all the assets and parameters with the click of a button trimming down project timelines and repetitive tasks.
In 2018 I suspect we’ll see one of these new tools take off and give Photoshop a run for its money leaving ‘designasours’ like me scrambling to keep up.
About Parachute Design
To learn more about our Toronto web design company or our web design process, please give us a call at 416-901-8633 or if you already have your project brief ready for review, take a seat for a few moments and complete our handy website design proposal planner.