Leading Web Design Trends of 2018 So Far
It’s true that the web has — and will continue to — greatly improve our lives.
But it’s also true that, as recent media hype supports, it has not only improved our lives, but, in many ways, made them much worse.
Catastrophic personal data breaches, rampant smartphone and social media addiction, and frequent burst blood vessels thanks to unusable web services and shockingly bad design are just a few things that come to mind.
In 2018, though, we’re finally starting to see these lumps and bumps get ironed out. GDPR is cleaning up data protection, device manufacturers and social media companies are being held to account, and, most importantly for us, the field of web design is reaching a whole new stage of digital maturity.
To explore this newly emerging fair and frustration-free landscape, and as we’re already half way through the year, let’s take a closer look at some of the leading web design trends of 2018 so far.
GDPR and Privacy By Design
No doubt one of the biggest web design trends in 2018, and even over recent years, is GDPR.
GPDR or the new General Data Protection Regulation is already disrupting many online experiences around the world, for better and for worse. The good, of course, is how tighter data regulations are putting control over personal data in the hands of its owners and establishing privacy as a basic principal of web design. The bad is that the implementation process of GDPR compliance is churning out some incredibly clunky and time-sapping experiences.
These initial teething issues will be no doubt be resolved over time. However, many web designers are already finding solutions to adhering to GPDR, while also providing streamlined experiences that continue to meet theirs and their client’s goals — i.e. increasing subscribers, sales, inquiries, or whatever other data-gathering conversion it may be.
One way designers are doing this is by using font, colour, and bolding to highlight what’s important and direct users into action. For instance, lengthy terms and conditions agreements may be necessary, but they can be contained in a scrollable box so users don’t have to trudge through it all to click “agree”. Likewise, consent needs to be clear and not opted-in as default, but it doesn’t need to be passive in its design and placement as to make users always pass it on by.
As have already been seen to be web design trends that aren’t going away anytime soon, transparency and honesty are key. Most businesses aren’t doing anything malicious in gathering data, and so all they need to do is be frank and honest with their users about why they want to collect data and how it can benefit them. Do this, and users will be more than happy to sign up to whatever you’re pushing.
As the capabilities of web design improve and access to new technologies increases, web designers want to show off and impress users with more and more technical and complex experiences.
Users love new and interactive experiences. The problem is, though, they also love convenience and mobility. And so, designers have needed to figure out a way to balance the demand for rich online experiences with also speed and mobile-friendly functionality.
Animations that interact with the cursor is one great way to do just that. By integrating into the functionality of a site, they add a sense of dynamism and movement to designs without compromising loading speeds or performance on mobile.
Other effective solutions designers are using include animating particular elements on a site. For example, adding animation effects to help direct users toward clicking call to actions, revealing features and offers, or finding navigational elements.
Content Minimal Design
In a world of information overload and social media slot machines, the principal of minimalism and “less is more” is something designers and users alike are coming to appreciate more.
What this looks like in practice is focusing on content and building just enough interface and structure to deliver it. This can mean highly-functional elements, simple and thin fonts, and lots and lots of white or empty space.
The key is not to chop and chop away essential features in the name of minimalist philosophy. Truly minimal designs realise certain elements are essential for helping the user orientate and navigate themselves, and as a result, achieve their goal. While others are superfluous fluff that add nothing to and often hinder the experience.
It used to be that online experiences were inseparable from the device through which they were experienced. For a long time, we believed the internet was a place that existed only inside the confines of our desktop computers and which could only be accessed through a 20-inch window.
Now that we have a heap of new ways in which we can interact with the internet, it’s clear this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Today we have an “ambient environment” of devices through which we access and read, consume, learn, and shop on the internet — a virtual and boundless field of information — in new and ever more immersive ways.
For web designers, the implications of this are in moving away from the idea of solely desktop or mobile-focused design and toward a more multichannel, “informational storytelling” approach.
Information storytelling is all about recognising that experiences are made up of data and information and are therefore not restricted to the medium through which users experience them. This means they should not be designed to be static, independent, and heavy, but fluid, holistic, and light.
What this looks like is retailers creating AR apps to support their in-store experiences, mobile banks integrating the offline world in their sales journey, and publishers creating content in both audio, written, and visual formats.
And there you have our leading web design trends for 2018 so far! We look forward to seeing how more designers integrate them into their online experiences, as well as what other new trends may emerge during the second half of the year.