2015 Web Trends to Leave Behind in 2016

Trends come and go, and when technology is always evolving, change is the only constant. In the realm of Web design, trends come into being and fade because of changes in technology, user demands, compliance, and expectation. As such, design trends will continually evolve to reflect this evolution. This also means that Web designers should also say goodbye to trends that no longer work.

Obviously, your website should be modern and appealing, and it should inspire your visitors by using an elegant, yet effective design. However, it’s important not to chase trend after trend, as the functionality of your site should be based on a foundation that’s secure and efficient. To keep your website clear of the design components that are often seen as a bit strange to your visitors, you must remember to design your site with the user experience in mind to make sure that your visitors stay on your site, and maybe even share it as well.

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An unfortunate fact is that poor Web design can happen on great Web pages. An attractive design is a crucial part of your site, because it's something that can compel your visitors to go further into your content—or go to another site instead.

Whatever you do, be sure to leave the following Web design trends behind:

1.     Sliders - You want your viewer’s attention to be on how you can solve their problems—and overloading them with images can distract or frustrate them from that goal. Even if your message is entirely relevant, your audience needs to focus on your main value proposition. When visitors land on your page, they’re on the hunt for information pertinent to what they’re looking for— and view all images on a slider. The only reason they’re usually being utilized is because a client asked for it.

Sliders are essentially made using JavaScript and multiple large images, which can be detrimental to your website’s loading time. When it comes to mobile devices, these images could slow down your page's load speed to a crawl. Because more and more people use their mobile devices to check stuff online, it’s especially important to remove unnecessary features to cut down on unnecessary resource loading.

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2.     Pop-ups- Pop-ups are often a nuisance for many visitors. Having said that, pop-ups that offer visitors the option to subscribe to a blog, or direct them to do something actionable within the site aren’t necessarily a bad practice. As long they don’t hijack the user experience and subvert marketing efforts, pop-ups could make for helpful tools. A message that pops up after an appropriate time with an option for you to easily opt out of the box is effective. However, it could become a problem when it becomes ubiquitous.

3.     Auto-play Videos - No one wants to be ambushed by an auto-play video or even worse, one with sound. The goal is to get viewers to stay on your page, not drive them away. In an effort to stop the noise, in many cases, your visitors will just leave your site. Respect your viewers and give them the ability to opt in to watch your video.

4.     Separate Mobile Sites - If you feature a responsive, smart design, Google will give you a better rank and prefer your website over another that doesn’t use responsive design. A “mobile only” version of your site doesn’t give you a high quality user experience the same way that a responsive site does. Additionally, Google doesn’t recommend them, and can penalize you due to the duplicate content issue. Many people who visit websites on a mobile device expect to see similar functionality to the desktop version. Mobile-only versions of websites tend to differ widely from the desktop counterpart, and thus confuse the user.

5.     Skeumorphic Design - This is the philosophy of making items on a website closely resemble what the items look like in real life. Essentially, this means trying to create a 3D effect on a 2D or flat surface (like a computer screen) though the use of things like shadows, highlights, and details. Although skeumorphic design intends to provide a great user experience by creating images that are easy to identify with, it often ends up producing visual noise and clutter on the website. In addition to creating clutter, skeumorphic designs tend to be difficult to develop and are tougher to update in the future.

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6.     Bad Stock Photography - Terrible stock photography is one of the main reasons why you should work with a qualified Web designer for a Web design project and not your friend’s sister’s brother-in-law’s neighbor who has a slight interest in design. Those stock photos that show contrived images of people looking at screens are a thing of the past—much like laser disc players. Bad stock photography can be quite hilarious, but it never builds up credibility or trust with potential clients.

Just remember that you can always find better stock photos online because the stock photography market is very competitive. New vendors and photography websites have come out to compete with the big vendors like iStock. What then makes up a good stock photograph? High-quality stock photography should not be cheesy, with unrealistic and unnatural poses. Generic and corny stock photos are going to be a thing of the past. Bold, original, and real photos that echo your content and personality are going to trend instead. If you want to relate with your audience more effectively, use real and high-quality photos that will get attention and gain your audience's trust.

7.     Above-the-fold - Before 2015, there was a large emphasis on putting all content above the fold (where the computer stops). However, times have changed, and users have learned to adapt to technology. Shoving all the necessary content into a small space does not have any benefit. Scrolling isn’t just some old form of note-taking. Above-the-fold design still has relevance in things such as landing page design, but for general B@B website design, above-the-fold-only design is dead.

Today's users are familiar with swipe up, swipe down, scroll up, and scroll down interfaces, largely due to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Websites that allow longer scrolling are becoming increasingly popular, especially websites that integrate unique scrolling effects like parallax. The benefit of a website that allows scrolling to discover content is that it controls the brand story and messaging, which is used to direct visitors throughout the site based on the content they choose to interact with. Additionally, this is also a great way to establish the look and feel of the brand by taking the user on a closely controlled journey down the page.

8.     Text-heavy Sites - As visual media continues to gain popularity across websites, expect to see less text and more visual stimulation. Videos are now easier and cheaper to produce, and more websites are including them in their content plans. Web pages are also incorporating more images along with their text content. Content, in other words, is becoming more interactive. In addition to using responsive and minimalistic design, use interactive content with large images, infographics, and video.

9.     Messy Content Hierarchy - Tile-style layouts, made popular by Pinterest, may not work for every content type, but will continue to thrive. The trend has been around for a while, so it isn’t exactly new. Nevertheless, it's still projected to play a crucial role in organizing content hierarchy. Tile, column, and card designs are going to get rid of ambiguous, sloppy, and disorganized content coordination.

10.  Boring typography - Type kits are becoming less expensive and more designers are experimenting with different types. We’ve already seen bigger and bolder typography. Use more typefaces with personality to attract attention and make it easier to convey your message.

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Before trying out any of these new design trends, remember to put yourself in the mind of the visitors. Ask yourself if your design efforts kill or improve the overall user experience? Remember that diversity in Web design is what makes design attractive— just make sure that the diversity you’re aiming for supports the overall goal of your website. Keeping up with Web design trends is an essential aspect of managing your business, and as time goes by, so does the trends and technologies that come with it. The task is not something you may be thrilled about, but watching out for new trends that can inspire and old trends to buck is the best way to handle potential threats and spot key opportunities.

Many Web design trends died this year because there has been a dramatic, industry-wide shift away from what a company wants to what the client/visitor wants. This is absolutely reflected in Web design—where it is centered around the user’s needs and wants to create a great user experience that will turn a visitor to an actual customer.

Web design has turned a corner and must now include functionality along with engaging beauty. In addition to considering a company’s brand, a B2B Web designer must consider content, visual user experience, search engine optimization (SEO), analytics, conversions, and the back-end development of the wesbite. A designer no longer pulls pretty pictures and lines them up, but rather, takes a holistic view of the entire website strategy and user experience.

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Angela Gaddi
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Angela writes about IT security, privacy, free speech, politics, social media, and the intersection of business and consumer tech. Has a special aptitude for privacy, cult literature, film noir.

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