In 2017 we are likely to see some trends which will result in more unique, bold website designs.
New technology allows for greater possibilities in web design, with richer and more immersive experiences. This is mostly seen at the big business end of the web design universe, but all of these trends can be applied even to small, relatively low budget websites too.
Read on for my top 7 web design trends for 2017.
1. Richer colours, gradients and duotone images
With the popularity of flat design and minimalism in the last few years, gradients had all but disappeared from most web designs. Now they are back in a big way!
Brands overlay images with rich, vivid duotone gradients to send a strong brand message and create consistency between images. Bold colour palettes and gradients also appear in logos, icons and website backgrounds.
2. Card designs and grid layouts
Card layouts were made popular by Pinterest initially and are now used for anything from portfolios to news blogs. They work particularly well for content-heavy sections of websites, and scale beautifully for mobile devices as the cards simply restack.
3. Animations and videos
New web development tools make animations easier to create and better supported in browsers. Videos used as backgrounds or to tell a story or explain a process are also becoming more common.
Subtle animations on buttons or underscores that shift on hover will become more widely seen even on small business websites where budgets don't necessarily allow for more spectacular animations.
At the other end of the spectrum we can see big budget websites using animations to create virtual reality experiences or to tell stories in a truly immersive way.
4. Asymmetrical layouts
Since responsive design became the standard a few years ago, most designers have been adhering to fairly strict grid layouts, which work great from a usability point of view on all devices. There are certain best practices regarding the layout and navigation which make websites user friendly and also convert better and work well for SEO.
However, this has led to many websites following a similar structure - and in 2017 we will likely see a backlash as designers are keen to create more unique layouts.
There are some examples of really asymmetrical website layouts which unfortunately don't work well on mobiles and can be confusing and too chaotic for business websites (not to mention more expensive to code!).
But we will see more unique design elements that make a website seem asymmetrical or "broken" whilst still following best practices. For example, graphics might "break out" of a box, headings might be just a little offset to be partially covered by an image, or menu items might have different size backgrounds in various colours.
5. Authentic photography or videography
More and more small businesses invest in professional photography, and this can make a world of difference to your final website (as does professional copywriting and videography!).
Photos taken on your iPhone or pulled of a generic stock photo website just don't cut it. Saying that, there are now more and more high quality, authentic stock photos available, the trick is in picking the right ones which haven't been overused on other websites.
6. Bolder typography and braver headings
In recent years, it has become common to use simple sans-serif fonts for website headings and text, but as more fonts are supported by modern browsers, we are starting to see more expressive, dramatic combinations of fonts.
There is a trend towards stronger contrast of headings and paragraph text, although I am sure we will see a lot of soft, harmonious pairings of typefaces.
7. Deceptively simple home pages
We are seeing more home page designs which are deceptively simple, with a large graphic or background image and almost no text. This can create a more immersive experience for the user as distractions are minimised.
However, simple image home pages can be a disaster for SEO as Google loves text, and having relevant headings and text on the home page can really help with rankings. To get around this dilemma, some websites open up with a large image or banner, but when you scroll down there is lots more content. These days people are used to scrolling as we look at websites on our mobiles where scrolling is just part of the deal, so it is not an issue as long as you can grab people's attention and make them want to see more.
2017 is set to be an interesting year for web design. We will build on the learnings of the last few years in terms of responsive design, usability best practices, minimalism and flat design. But I think this year will be all about adding a bit more fun - subtle animations, some asymmetric elements, and braver, bolder colours and fonts.