2014 brought us simplification and user-friendliness. Due to the rise of smartphones, many websites also focused on mobile presentation. With almost the entire civilised world online, a poor or mediocre web presence can make an otherwise reputable company look bad. The biggest trends of that year were parallax websites, short presentation videos, and on customising web content for mobile devices (aka Responsive Web Design).
These trends continue today but have advanced in many ways. In fact, 2015 is mostly a refinement on these trends from last year but with one focus: a Content-first attitude. After all, some of the websites that have seen a lot of growth in the last year were simple blogs with a dedicated following (one example being the controversial blog Danger and Play) and the newspaper giant The New York Times which redesigned its site to bring attention to its content.
The following list covers 2015's most popular web design trends (and some that may end up as fads):
1. Responsive Web Design
We are at a point in time where responsive web design will become the standard. The fact of the matter is that the sales of mobile devices and tablets are not going to stop any time soon. This year, search engine volume for mobile phones exceeded desktop search volume for the first time in the history of the web. In 2015, more people access the internet through their phones than through desktop computers. This has companies approaching their web design with a "mobile-first" approach. Developers will have to be on top of this, as it is moving beyond a trend to a standard, as even small start-ups will be looking for responsive design.
2. Flat Design
Even though most computers and mobile devices can handle some flashy and layered design, this trend is taking web design a few steps back for the benefit of the user. It is a simple and minimalist style of design. It employs a two-dimensional style without overt stylization - not even drop shadows, or feathered edges. Flat design is especially popular for mobile apps since flat design interfaces are very easy to use.
3. Natural Stock Photography
Stock images have been around for awhile now. Only recently have designers had better access to higher quality, unique, and elegant images. Many stock images sites such as StockSnap.io, a site for free beautiful, high-quality photos, have cropped up to meet the ever-increasing demand.
4. Infographics, Graphs and Illustrations
Infographics are popular because they represent data with pleasing aesthetics while making relatively complex topics more digestible for a general audience. Some designers will skip the infographic route but still present graphics, charts, and other kinds of interactive data. Many website designers are also using hand-drawn illustrations. The most popular example is Dropbox with its colorful, sketchy illustrations. This trend might catch on and, much like with stock photography, will become a much more common sight on the web. This trend is especially suited for businesses wishing to better represent their brands and form a more organic and human connection with their audience.
5. Subtle Parallax
This is one of those trends that has continued since 2014. When the trend first picked up momentum it was still in its early stages of development. Since then it has become more refined and sophisticated, giving websites a better feel with less movement.
This article only covers the most important trends of 2015. Other popular on-going trends include big and bold typography, personal branding, interactive digital experiences, and scrolling. Start-ups and even established businesses must keep up-to-date with these trends if they wish to have a competitive edge on the web (and in 2015 on phones and tablets).
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