8 Web Design Trends for 2018December 29, 2017
As we reach the end of 2017 (and almost another decade, yikes!), it’s a good time to put on our prognosticator goggles, and try to peer into the year to come. While there are many choices, we've narrowed our list down to 8 trends likely to continue growing into the new year. If you'd like to comment or add to the list, please do so below!
2. End of Flat
Flat Design has had a good, long run. Starting around the beginning of the current decade, Flat Design is/was the movement to strip away all the excesses of skeuomorphism–design elements that tried to resemble actual physical items, such as 3-dimensional button with drop shadow, or old paradigms, like a restaurant site where the menu resembles an old-fashion paper menu.
This decade-long trend saw many websites continuing to move away from the excesses of skeuomorphism (folder icons, drop shadows, textures, gradients, etc.), and over to a much more reserved, minimal design.
All shading, dimensions, and other embellishments were stripped away. This saved on bandwidth, allowed more use of native HTML and CSS styling, and pushed our thinking away from the old physical world and into the new digital world.
But 2018 will see some return to decorative detail. Drop-shadows can add dimension and visual interest to page elements, without being excessive or obnoxious. They also can give attention and focus on important page elements.
Some use of subtle textures, depth and visual cues can bring back a sense of fun, personality and discovery to web designs, without staying stuck in past paradigms.
Taking its cue from the Brutalism architecture of mid-21st century, this trend strips away existing conventions of current web design.
While asymmetrical design can be part of it, the Brutalist web design often has no apparent structure at all. The goal seems to be a raw, unfinished, edgy-look.
Sometimes there are bold colors, but often a minimal color palette. It’s much as attitude as an approach, and in some ways harkens back to the early days of the web, when the expectations for web design were undefined.
If you’re looking for a cutting-edge experience, but also want to maintain a minimal, just-baked attitude, this might be the trend for you.
6. New Menu Patterns
Start with burgers
The biggest change in site menus the past few years has been the ubiquitous rise of the hamburger icon. Use of this icon has moved from shorthand for menu on a mobile device to its use everywhere, replacing site menus and hiding options by default.
While this approach leads to cleaner, less cluttered sites, it hasn’t always led to the best user experience. Web designers will continue to explore additional approaches and patterns, and not settle for a 1-size-fits-all approach.
Some user experience studies have shown that displaying a shorter menu on mobile (as opposed to only a hamburger icon), has increased click-throughs and usability. It's been called "progressively collapsing" for mobile, or Priority+, but perhaps "progressively enhancing menu" (showing more as the screen widens) is a better name.
Another change has been moving the site menu to the footer of a screen, as opposed to always pinning it to the top of your screen. This has been largely within apps and web designs for mobile devices, such as Twitter and Facebook. But as the pattern becomes more accepted, perhaps we’ll see a translation to the desktop as well.
Menus on the edges
For larger desktop, some sites have adapted a “menu frame,” where links move to the sides of page content, or run vertically instead of horizontally. This may not be the best approach for usability, but it does encourage exploration and breaking the norm.
While not the artificial intelligence I dreamed of in science fiction (which always turns out evil), the new AI is starting to impact how websites are designed. Intelligent “chatbots” can now help guide site visitors, supplementing the work of good content and design.
Personalization of site content could greatly enhance designs trying to speak to a specific audience. Integrating website functionality with voice-powered devices such as Amazon’s Echo will be expected behavior at some point.
Taking this a step further are AI-powered services that eliminate the need for a human designer entirely.
Services such as The Grid or Wix ADI are now selling a service where their artificial intelligence bots do the webpage design for you. Their algorithms can determine the colors, tone, style and layout of a websites. Other large companies such as Adobe are also working on a similar offering.
Whether or not these start to take the place of yours truly remains to be seen. Hopefully, there will still be a place for us humans for many years to come.