Adapting to ever-changing web design trends can be difficult even for experienced designers.
With daily software advancements and changes to how we browse, what was relevant a year ago is likely losing traction today.
What’s more, these trends are not only visual changes. Many changes are practical in design, adopting new technology, or features which enhance the user experience.
With this constant evolution in mind, designers should always be ready to adapt & learn. In this post, we'll look at some of the most significant web design trends happening right now, and what we can expect to see in the rest of this year.
The Role of Chatbots for Website Design
Recent improvements to artificial intelligence have had a positive impact on the ability of website chatbots.
Gone are the days of frustrating automated support. They've become smart, helpful & efficient.
With their lightning-fast service and 24/7 availability, chatbots can excel with many a simple task. With just a line of code, chatbots can be deployed to answer customer support, recommend products and even conduct user surveys.
Chatbots can also be used to extract useful data from website visitors; like their email address, phone number & specific product interests. This data is great for marketing and easy to obtain in a chatbox window.
It's still early days for the chatbot industry, but they're already a valuable tool for online brands. As they improve further, expect chatbot integration to become an expected feature for website designs.
The Beginning of the End for Sidebars
The slow death of sidebars is here. Once a common website feature, sidebars are becoming redundant for today's mobile-friendly sites.
As screens have gotten smaller, the utility of sidebars has declined. With limited screen real-estate, it's often smarter to lose the sidebar altogether over squeezing everything in.
Likewise, websites continue to embrace minimal features, stripping away unnecessary distractions, benefiting more usability & SEO. This is especially important when millennial attention spans are so short.
For the above reasons, many of the best ready-made website templates & builders now have an option to include or remove these sidebars. But either way, this is sure to become another significant website design trend in 2019.
The Year of Graceful Degradation and Progressive Advancement
Most web designers know the importance of responsive design. But with technology and devices changing so fast,“mobile-friendly” is no longer enough.
In the early days of the internet, only a handful of browsers & operating-systems needed support. Today, and into the future, websites may need to support hundreds.
So rather than focussing on web designs that are mobile-friendly, create sites that are "everything-friendly".
This is where graceful degradation and progressive advancement become important web standards.
Both of these web design concepts are about ensuring visitors on all devices - both old and new - can utilise your website content.
Progressive advancement is a design approach whereby your site dynamically strips down features to show only basic content on older devices. This means you only have one site which works, at least to a basic degree, on any type of device.
On the other hand, we have graceful degradation. This approach creates a more advanced website for devices capable of viewing it and a simplified version for older, less advanced devices. The benefit of this approach is that you can create specific versions for individual devices. However, it also means maintaining multiple copies of the same site.
Regardless of which development approach you choose, graceful degradation and progressive advancement are two website design considerations for the years to come.
The Evolution of Large and Quirky Type
Businesses have always been liberal with their branding in offline formats like print and packaging, yet been restricted with how they're seen online. But as web browser support catches up, these restrictions are fading away, and brands are free once again to be creative with their image.
One current such trend is the use of unusual typography and non-standard fonts.
Integrating custom fonts into your website can help keep a brand image consistent and add unique character to your site.
This is particularly important if your brand is in the artistic fields, like fashion, design or music. Sites like HumanBehindEveryNumber and CSSZenGarden show how effective custom fonts can be.
With almost unanimous web-browser support and a growing number of web-font services, like Google Fonts & Adobe Fonts, there’s no reason to avoid custom typefaces in 2019.
The Emergence and Importance of Illustrations
Infographics are an entertaining and engaging way to tell a story. As so, in recent years, they've become a cornerstone of online marketing.
But just as infographics have risen in popularity, so too have general illustrations. In fact, illustrated content is beginning to match photo content in recent web design trends. So why is this?
As with the custom font, the reasons are twofold. Firstly, illustrations offer an easy way to stand out from the crowd and keep a consistent brand image.
Secondly, and more important, is web browser support. Most illustrations can now be directly embedded into websites in SVG format. These files are incredibly lightweight, helping websites load faster.
So not only are custom illustrations great for branding, they can actually help improve SEO & site usability.
As a website designer, you're probably not the best illustrator. Check out design marketplaces like Envato Studio to commission custom vectors for your sites.
Looking back on these 5 design trends, it’s clear that moving forward cross-device usability will be essential. Most of these trends are the result of years of improvement in web design technology - from the browsers we use to view them to the software on the backend.
But at a time when the digital world continues to move at such blistering pace, it’s important we keep one eye on the past. Many devices we have today will continue functioning for years to come. Whether they support next year’s web trends, though, is anyone’s guess.