It may seem like an odd question to ask, given that 2020 is two years away. However, as with all design-based industries, web development in particular is constantly evolving in order to stay current and keep up with the latest visual trends. These trends are not only par-for-the-course in all walks of design, but are a vital cog in allowing us to explore new concepts. So with this in mind it got us thinking, what do we think a website will look like two years from now?
As someone who took a break from web design, only to return 3 years later, I can personally confirm how quickly the industry has changed and evolved over time. In 2014 when I last worked in this field websites looked completely different, with a focus being put on displaying as much information as possible on the sites homepage with small images often accompanying large blocks of text.
Fast forward 4 years and the focus has shifted to large, bold imagery taking center stage with clean and simple text accompanying the images. Nowadays it’s all about grabbing the visitors attention from the offset and inviting them to explore the rest of the site, instead of presenting with them with all the information from the get go.
I believe the main reason for this is consumers and designers use large corporations such as Apple and Google as a benchmark for what is considered aesthetically pleasing. If we look at TV ads, posters and websites from the likes of Apple over the past decade, around 2013 they shifted to a now-standard formula of using a large image with vast amounts of white space and minimal amounts of text to great effect. On older websites, white space was not often utilised, with text and images often filling most of the page. However with more and more companies using white space in their advertising it has become a vital element of design and has become greatly understood and appreciated by everyday consumers and designers alike in recent years.
As of early 2018, we are finding that our clients are often requesting something that resembles a middle ground between ultra modern and the older style of web design. I believe this is partly due to the fact that everyone has now seen the extreme minimalist style used by Google, Samsung, Apple etc and don’t necessarily look to that style as the must-have layout in order to stay current. Whereas in previous years design would often take precedence over written content, we are noticing that homepage text and information sections are beginning to making a comeback whilst striking up a happy medium with bold imagery.
Whilst it’s no secret that technology has been improving at a lightning pace over the past 5 years, what some may not realise is the large impact that changes in technology has had on design work. With more and more users viewing emails and websites from mobile devices, we as developers must adjust accordingly, making sure that our work is optimised for mobile viewing.
Statistics show that more websites were viewed on mobile devices and tablets than desktops for the first time ever in November 2016 and the number of mobile viewers has since increased again. Mobile and tablet users accounted for 51.26% of web views in November 2016, whilst desktop users made up the remaining 48.74%. When we compare these statistics to the ones released in 2010 where mobile and tablet viewers made up less than 5% of the total number, we can see a clear indication of where the overwhelming majority will soon lie.
However, it is important to remember that mobile phones and tablets are no longer the only alternatives to using a desktop computer when surfing the web. With the recent releases of smart watches, VR headsets and multi function printers (yes, you can actually have a browser on your printer now), it represents an exciting time for all, but especially designers. Once VR headsets support web browsing, I imagine we will all have to rethink our design strategies once more in order to optimise our material for a whole new platform. Exciting times indeed.
At this point it’s hard to say as web design never fails to be predictably unpredictable each year. Whilst it’s almost impossible to say what the next big trend will be, I believe that we will start to see images, text and whitespace working together with equal importance meaning that sites will start to see more of a balance.
With constant advancements in technology and the tools available to us as developers, one thing is for certain. Web design will continue to surprise us far past 2020.
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