IN & OUT Design Trends for 2016

We always keep a close eye on the latest web design trends, and this year has been no exception. As we move into 2016, there are a number of trends we’ve seen build momentum, while others have fizzled out. There are also a number of hot trends in 2015 that will continue to gain strength in the new year. Take a look.

MOBILE DESIGN

  • What’s out: Mobile as a separate site
  • What’s in: Mobile integration
  • What’s here to stay: Long, scrolling sites

A few years ago, the main goal of any website design project was to make the site look good for desktop. Once the desktop site was up and running, then companies would eventually build a mobile version.

This is no longer an option for businesses who want to keep up with their competitors. A seamless mobile experience is now mandatory and should be considered at the very beginning of any web design project. At Marstudio, we think about the mobile version before we even send a desktop mockup!

The good news is that the actual content of the site won’t be too different from desktop to mobile. We’ve noticed that long, scrolling sites dominate the look and feel across devices. It’s now become so automatic for users to scroll down to learn more, that companies are no longer worried about keeping all the important content “above the fold.” We expect this trend to continue moving forward.

PUBLISHED CONTENT

  • What’s out: Simple, useful info (only) on websites
  • What’s in: Simple, useful info on social media – but more in-depth content on websites
  • What’s here to stay: Informative content for the sake of SEO

There’s no denying that content is king these days – but there has been a shift in the type of content that websites produce.

Previously, companies would publish simple, useful content on their site – like hours of operation or contact info. However, Google can now pull that information and display it within the search results, which means users won’t need to go to the full website if they’re just looking for basic details. On top of that, many aren’t even using Google to find this type of info – they usually head to social media pages first.

So, for SEO purposes, sites now need to add more in-depth content. Blogs, FAQs, and customer testimonials are all excellent ways to provide the type of content that will get your site picked up in a search, and cause customers to actually click through. Also, you’ll want to make sure your social media presence has plenty of short and sweet info for users to see.

RESPONSIVE DESIGN

  • What’s out: Responsive to small screens
  • What’s in: Responsive to small and large screens
  • What’s here to stay: Large images that fill the screen

Having a responsive site no longer means just making sure everything looks good on smartphones and tablets. These days, the ultra-large screen is also becoming popular. This is something web designers and developers need to consider before starting a new project.

And it’s not just the size that matters – it’s also the pixels. We’re moving away from the usual HD screens and into the realm of ultra high-definition 4K and 5K resolution monitors. If you’re not designing for that size or resolution, then the quality of your site will suffer. The goal is to make a responsive site that looks incredible no matter how it is viewed.

Your website should, essentially, work like a sponge that expands and contracts to fit the screen. This is why full-width images will still be popular moving forward.

LOGOS AND BRANDING

  • What’s out: Logos judged as standalone designs
  • What’s in: Logos judged by their application and versatility
  • What’s here to stay: Logos praised for elegant simplicity

The way we create and look at logos has changed lately. Before, we’d compare a logo re-design in terms of “before” and “after.” If the logo looked better than it did before, then it was accepted and everyone moved on.

Now the process is more complex – it’s rare to see a logo evaluation these days without seeing how it looks in context. How will it look on the website? In a mobile app? Incorporated into a packaging design?

A great example of this is the new Merck logo. The logo itself is kind of a head scratcher – the font looks arbitrary and the color is, well, very green. Yet, when you take a look at this logo across collateral, the effect is very different.

Because companies need a logo that will work across many channels at a variety of sizes, simple logos will continue to be the preferred style.

Looking for a real-life example that incorporates the trends discussed above? Check out the current Autotrader.com website. They recently simplified their logo, and the site offers in-depth content, showcased in an excellent design at any screen size.

If you’d like to update your own brand and web presence to reflect current design trends in 2016, we’d love to hear from you!

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