Web design is a particularly nuanced form of creative visual communication, driven by the needs of the user. And as creative design agencies have started to think more and more about those needs, focusing now on UX and UI, the role of the designer has become more than just the expert aesthetic problem solver.
We live in a world of rapidly advancing technologies and creative tools. The digital designer’s job is now to visually excite their audience, curate a journey and find a way to Do Something New. It’s no small task. The digital design landscape is fast moving and it’s your job to stay one move ahead of everyone else out there. Here’s a look at website design trends for 2018.
The New Flat Design
Flat design is the simplified, minimal aesthetic that you’ve probably become used to seeing employed across digital brands. It’s sort of the epitome of “form follows function”: the ultimate user-centric design, prioritising purpose over beauty. There’s a crispness to flat design, with typography usually a clean sans-serif, copy is minimal and UI elements like buttons and links are clear and noticeable. In 2018, flat design will get something of an upgrade. Digital designers will begin to add subtly, depth and texture with gradients, soft, stylised shadows and more hidden elements. More of a “form and function walk hand in hand” sort of deal.
Design over the past five years has often been about inside of the box (or…grid) thinking. 2018 will see everything getting a bit more free-flowing when it comes to web page design. Broken grid layouts and intersecting elements will both become more common. As businesses continue to differentiate themselves from their competition, we’ll also see designers breaking the rules by playing around with asymmetry. Again, this represents a nudge forward from user-centric minimalism – asking the user to make their own decision about where their attention is drawn.
Mobile & context-led design
In ecommerce website development, mobile-responsive design has long been dominant in the top-tier of brands and businesses. In 2018, method mobile-first design will become a near prerequisite and designers will continue to innovate. Of course, it goes without saying that mobile-first design is best SEO practice. The other side of this will be brand’s considering that their users are actually visiting site at various different points across different devices before acting, with different motivations at each point.
Most user-centered design projects begin with a research phase. This research phase will now look more closely at what purpose each device is being utilised for – are visitors user their mobiles in the research phase? Are they moving across to desktop once they’re ready to purchase? These kinds of learnings will facilitate responsive design that takes into account the context of the user’s visit.
A user journey is made up of a series of interactions. And good UX/ UI design was always about getting to know the user. In website design for 2018, we’ll take this a step further – really, really getting inside the user’s head. This is a useful analogy in defining micro-interactions: “If individual interactions are the cells that make up the UX, then micro-interactions are the atoms within the cells.” Some examples of micro-interactions include the pull-to-refresh UI pattern, loading progress bar or an animation that or confirms an action (e.g. item added to cart). Delving into micro-interactions can take a well-design user journey to something that feels totally seamless and intuitive… turning your website into something almost weightless.
Voice is here. And 2018 is the year that designers start integrating technologies into the user journey. As users become more comfortable interacting with bots (and trusting those bots to carry out their request…), designers will need to focus on conversational interfaces. In the initial stages, this will probably mean building voice-operated functionality into other areas of the journey – e.g. giving the customer the option