With the second decade of mass internet usage drawing to a close, certain internet design principles have evolved into accepted standards. Any web designer will know the importance of prioritising readability over design, never using tables, and beta testing websites in every mainstream browser prior to clicking ‘publish’.
However, the need for originality in today’s mature online marketplace means website development is constantly evolving. Each year brings different web design trends to the fore, while others become less popular through overuse or poor implementation. These are some of the web design trends to celebrate in 2019 – plus a few you’d do well to avoid…
Embrace: Mobile-oriented design
Most internet traffic is displayed on mobile devices, and Google now ranks websites based on the versions seen by smartphone/tablet users. Designing a site for mobile audiences must take precedence over desktop users, especially as loading times are crucial in SEO calculations. Hamburger menus are acceptable, and large buttons (suitable for thumb-clicks) are ideal.
Avoid: Serif typefaces
There was a renaissance in serif fonts for headlines and cartoon graphics in 2018. However, sans serif fonts remain superior in terms of readability. Choosing one of the open source Google Fonts should ensure consistent presentation in every major browser, but avoid quirky fonts like Yatra One; we’d recommend Open Sans, Helvetica or Roboto for body text.
An asymmetric design has become an increasingly popular trend, inspired by developments like twin-scrolling Shorthand presentations and CSS grids. The latter remain surprisingly underused. Broken grids and asymmetric templates create an edgy, dynamic appearance ideal for disruptive brands.
There are fine margins in web design trends, and edgy can quickly become confusing. Leave plenty of white space on a page so content can breathe, position photos in a scrolling gallery rather than a thumbnail table, and avoid background graphics or animations. Break up text with subheadings and lists; this blog features three-sentence paragraphs to improve its readability.
One way to simplify the user experience involves micro-animations. Requiring minimal coding, these are as simple as colour changes on mouseover, or ‘click here’ buttons that morph into a tick once actioned. Hamburger menus that drop down on mouseover help to simplify the mobile user experience. Stay away from epilepsy-triggering rapid flashes, though.
Avoid: Autoplaying video
This may seem controversial since videos consistently achieve higher engagement levels than other website components like photographs. However, autoplaying video clips can significantly lengthen page loading times, which is fatal in terms of both SEO and audience engagement. Sudden explosions of sound may cause rapid page abandonment, too.
Geometric patterns are increasingly popular in web design, adding dynamism to a page without significantly extending its loading time. Infographics are great for social media sharing and boosting page interactions, while a single 3D graphic can introduce greater visual depth than a dozen video thumbnails or pull-quote text boxes.