2016 was an exciting year for website, app and interface design and development. Events such as big name rebrands, and further unification of cross-device web experiences, continued uproar over 3D and VR, not to mention which of last year’s design trends should we expect to continue to shape how our websites are designed and built?
Some trends are simply that: trends that burst into popularity and then suddenly fade away. But the design trends that really work? They stick.
With the New Year well and truly underway, many webmasters and marketing managers will be considering the decisions made last year and the real impact that they had on their success.
Here are five of last year’s trends that we think will survive this year’s website redesigns.
1. Conversational interfaces
The world of ecommerce is always pushing boundaries, as marketers seek new ways to bring the online and offline shopping experiences closer together. Conversational interfaces such as Zo by Microsoft and the recent Alexa from Amazon, aim to get customers engaging with technology in the way they engage with real people.
With downloads of messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger as popular as ever, it seems that companies are keen to harness our fascination with AI and utilize such apps to collect masses of conversational data, in order to keep the overall customer experience engaging.
It will be interesting to see how messaging conversational bots will bleed over into web experiences, perhaps acting as online smart assistants, replacing the need for real humans on live chat.
There’s still a long way to go for these conversational bots to become more human like, but as AI technology creeps closer to the edge of ‘uncanny valley’, the technology may soon lose its public appeal – and therefore its effectiveness.
2. A splash of colour
The words ‘Flat Design 2.0’ mean different things to different people. To developers, bloggers and graphic designers, it has been one of the hottest design trends in recent years. To marketers, it represents a constant fight for brighter buttons and a better conversion rate.
Throughout last year we saw some big name rebrands and with it the beginning of the end for the low-contrast flat design we’ve been used to.
It seems as though Instagram paved the way to make gradients trendy again with their new logos rolling out across their properties:
Spotify recently introduced a brave palette of super-rich colours, as they moved away from the instantly recognisable green, in favour of a much more vibrant colour scheme.
Look out for these more vivid colour palettes to appear online in all forms of media and content. Bolder use of illustrations and typography are on the cards as well.
Much like a film-maker uses contrast, colour and focus to draw the viewers’ attention around the movie screen, we know that bold, bright colours and a high level of contrast offer a much higher percentage of converting landing pages for marketing campaigns and a much more focused user experience.
Colour palette matching tools such as Coolors, and the hundreds of out-the-box landing page templates available, make this style of web design more accessible to businesses of all sizes and budgets. This makes ‘big and bold’ easier to pull off for designers as well as developers wanting to ditch their flat design in 2017.
3. Authentic and original imagery
While large brands can commission professional photoshoots to capture their ‘lifestyle photography’, smaller online businesses often get left behind, resorting to stock imagery of happy office workers pointing at nonsense graphs.
Authentic images simply mean more to the user. It’s becoming increasingly common for homepages to use actual imagery of the office space or staff to give the site more credibility and storytelling to sell the brand and this in turn has led to more conversions being made.
We’re also turning to illustrators much more for imagery. Dropbox, for example, uses an illustrated style to help communicate key information about how the software works. By its nature, an illustration draws the attention of the user only to the key pieces of information. This is usually a more successful way of representing conceptual products like software, where photography struggles.
Putting time into creating unique illustrations can give your website a unique identity, more focused and purposeful imagery and more creative flair.
During 2016 we saw more attention on website interactivity to improve both the user experience and increase the number of conversions. The data we collect from these interactions can enhance our marketing with cross-selling and remarketing through AdWords.
Micro interactions such as emoji reactions quickly became part of everyday online communication and expression when it was recently implemented by Facebook.
But the ability to like a post, to leave a comment or a reaction, is not just applicable to memes on social media. For years, ecommerce websites have been trying to build communities, allowing users to review, comment and ‘favourite’ products, as well as chat and sell second hand clothes in their forums. We’ll be surprised if more of these social media style micro-interactions don’t make it into ecommerce in 2017, as elements that promote interaction keep customers engaged with a site long-term.
5. 360 Video and VR
Google’s revolutionary way of finding places on a map, Street View, laid the foundation for online 3D experiences. It was quickly adapted for use in web design and marketing, for interactive features like virtual tours, which were utilised most notably by care homes and hotels. 360 product photography has been around for years to show off products that are hard to grasp in two dimensions. Last year 360 video technology exploded into the online world.
While this was mostly taking up by video sharing platforms like YouTube, it has made its way into specific marketing campaigns. The new Blair Witch movie’s promotional site incorporated a 360 experience.
It’s a good sign that we’ll see this new form of video take to websites more often as video media is expected to grow in popularity this year as websites get a little more creative.
While the horror genre adores 360 and virtual reality for its uncanny sense of immersion, 360 video could prove to be a great tool for showcasing experiences, conferences, fundraising events, , office space, studios, concerts, shopping centres, holiday parks…. The list goes on and on.
The world of web design is so fast-paced that trends come and go seemingly in an instant, and in the search for more conversions, nothing sits still on the web for very long. However, the design trends that stick tend to be the ones that are truly successful.
If you’re looking for a conversion-focused website for 2017, contact Receptional.