Published 04th January 2016 | Web Design, Website Content

What 2015 Meant For Website Design: a Retrospective

Remember 2015? When the world was divided over the colour of THAT dress. When you found yourself singing along to a song, then realising it was Justin Bieber and then liking it anyway. And when Mark Zuckerberg had a baby and gave away all his money. It seems like only yesterday (oh wait, that last bit pretty much was yesterday).

We see new trends in music, fashion and technology each year, and websites are no different. 2015 saw website designers focusing on providing a great user experience on every screen size; be it your smartphone, tablet or desktop monitor.

Here we take a look at how constantly changing screen sizes, and a push for ‘mobile first’ design, has affected website design in 2015.

The ‘Mobile-First’ Approach

Mobile-first is not so much a trend – it’s more of a force!  In fact it’s probably the biggest single driver for the many recent trends that have emerged. It’s also not new to 2015, but it’s so important that we have to include it up front!

Mary Meeker, an analyst who reviews technology trends, predicted in 2008 that mobile would overtake fixed internet access by 2014.

And she was right. We’ve passed the mobile “tipping point”, and 2015 saw worldwide mobile phone internet user penetration at 52.7 percent.

This isn’t just a passing phase either. It’s predicted this will rise in 2017, with more than 63.4 percent of mobile phone users accessing online content through their devices.

And if the statistics weren’t enough to prove the importance of mobile marketing, Google brought us ‘Mobilegeddon’ back in April. The algorithm that convinced businesses to create mobile-optimised, responsive sites, or risk their site-ranking being negatively impacted.

As 2015 draws to a close, we look back at some of the biggest web design trends of the year.

Top 7 Website Design Trends Of 2015

1) Keep It Simple

The KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid” or “Keep It Short and Simple”) has been around since the 1960s, and with minimalist sites embodying simplicity as one of the central ideals of web design in 2015, it’s become a web designer’s mantra.

By getting rid of all but the essential elements, you don’t just create a simple and easy to use website, you also reduce load times which is a bonus for mobile browsing.

Minimizing content, fonts and colour, while adding interest through big ‘hero images’ (single photos that fill the entire background) or realistic videos, allows you to draw the users attention solely to your main product, service or offer.

2) Video backgrounds / HD Backgrounds

Increased bandwidth and faster internet speeds are enabling us to create websites that would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. A new trend to emerge from this is the use of full screen videos running in the background of sites. This is an increasingly popular method of showing your business’s personality in a stronger way than just a static image.

This trend started in 2014, with Paypal updating its homepage to include a full screen video background (although they’ve now reverted back to a hero image). Paypal’s move to video helped bring the concept into the mainstream and with more and more people owning high definition devices, the focus in 2015 has been to create HD background videos to turn static websites into exciting and dynamic experiences.

Watch video!

3) Parallax Sites

“Make it big”, along with simplicity, has been massive in 2015. Designs have seen the homepage, especially above the fold, consisting of just a few words overlaid on an image or a video. Sometimes the navigation is accessed through a small icon; this has been common on mobile for a while but is now becoming more prevalent on desktop.

Getting rid of the distractions from other features gives users maximum impact when they arrive at your site. It’s also easier to code, as the layout can remain the same for both mobile and desktop.

Parallax scrolling creates a great user experience for these sites. At its simplest, as the viewer scrolls down, the background moves slower than the foreground, creating a 3D effect.  However 2015 saw the parallax effect evolve, with scrolling or mouse movements interacting with various properties on the page creating animations.

4) Animations

Motion attracts our attention, meaning animation on a website can impact on what our eye is drawn to first.

Animation sequences are often set to start when a user reaches a certain point on the page. It can be used in many ways, such as colours gradually changing as you navigate around the page or icons appearing as you scroll down.

It’s important to keep animations simple, as over complexity can result in lack of focus and prove distracting for the user.

5) Flat Design

Flat’s strength is its simplicity.  Rather than mimicking objects with skeuomorphic techniques (where an icon tries to look like its real life counterpart) flat design uses more cartoonish graphics, with easy to read typography and playful colours.

Flat design is not new; the last three years have seen it hailed the “king” many times over (especially in smaller elements such as icons, menus and illustrations).

However this year we’ve seen it become less flat, with designers incorporating subtle gradients and textures. And by keeping the style geared for easy understanding, it also provides an excellent viewing experience regardless of screen size.

6)     Big, Bold Dynamic Typography

Hand in hand with flat design and minimalism goes typography, often used to add a sense of drama to a site, and it’s become more common to see pages where beautiful text is being used as the central ‘image’ rather than a picture.

With only 15 seconds to capture your attention (according to statistics), the focus is on communicating your site’s core message as fast as possible. An effective way to achieve this is the use of large, bold typography.

Dynamic typography doesn’t always mean wild or elaborate fonts, it’s any text that draws attention to itself including extremely large or extremely small fonts. Although, remembering the primary goal of typography is legibility and readability, the latter is sometimes less successful on mobile devices.

7) Single, Strong Colour

Back in the day, when computers supported 256 different colours, designers were limited to 216 ‘Web Safe Colours‘. However, with the advancement of monitors and HD screens, there are now millions to choose from.

2015 saw a rise in bright, lively colours (who can forget the release of minion yellow) and one colour domination across the entire site, rather than an array of colours. These single, strong colours can stop a minimalist site looking dull, draw attention to certain words when used with typography and also play a large part in flat design.

Using a strong accent colour makes your site’s offering easier to find, and your brands identity more memorable.  It’s also effective at suggesting usability, i.e. images that change colour as you hover over them indicates they’re likely to be interactive.

Take-Away

These are 7 website trends we’ve seen become more popular in 2015. The sites where they work well is when the trends are based upon the needs of the users, rather than because it’s in vogue.

If you’re interested in updating your site and giving your users the best possible experience then get in contact with C4B Media on 01763 877110.

We can help you see if any of these trends would benefit your users and your business.

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