Exploring the Future of Web Design

By Phill Powell

Take a second and consider how much of modern life is impacted by web design. From news reporting to online shopping, web design influences how we see the world, and how we spend our time and money.

Web design is always changing with the times – morphing and shifting with current moods, consumer needs and new artistic visions.

The following trends are currently beginning to influence web design and are likely to remain in style for the foreseeable future:

Material Design Versus Flat Design

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Material Design takes the simplicity of Flat Design and adds bold use of colors and graphics.

The visual appearance of website will be changing in the future, and we’re seeing that shift now – from what is called Flat Design to the new wave in web design: Material Design.

Material Design is a modification of Flat Design, which encourages a strict use of simple graphics and uncluttered design. Material Design keeps that sense of user simplicity, but also injects it with hot 3D graphics and cool effects.

The ultimate goal is to create web design where functionality coexists peacefully with the best, most eye-popping visuals now possible because of today’s amazing design software.

User Experience Rules!

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Microinteractions will be considered key to web design moving forward.

User Experience (UX) is becoming a key part of all tech, and one that can’t be ignored – especially when designing websites. An otherwise strong website can easily be derailed by clunky and frustrating UX that confuses or irritates users as they try to navigate the site.

Moving forward, you can expect designers to place more emphasis on what are called “microinteractions.” These are the many small interchanges between the site and its user, such as when you change your settings or “Like” something.

Future web design will pay close attention to microinteractions, because they make up a big part of the total experience delivered by any site.

Meet Your Chatbot Host

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Chatbots can keep users entertained, as they guide users through the site experience.

The old style of web design was to try to create a site that plays effectively to the widest possible selection of users.

The coming wave of web design is about creating a more personalized experience for the end user and making that user feel like more of a participant during their session.

Enter the chatbot, the designer’s best tool in developing a “conversational interface” that brings the concept of personalized service to site design. When the user arrives at the site, the chatbot acts like a welcoming host, using its ‘bot “smarts” to helpfully guide the user to exactly where they want to go on the site.

A chatbot can accomplish several tasks at once: 1) guide the user’s experience on the site; 2) interact warmly – even entertainingly – with the end user by asking questions, etc.; 3) through its language, reflect the distinct personality of the persons or people running the site.

According to UX designer Adrian Zumbrunnen, “What I discovered building a chatbot was that I could actually convey something that a traditional personal website never could, which is my character and personality.”

Smart designers are already integrating chatbots where possible, and you can expect to see their use increase during coming years.

Cinemagraphs: Between Photos & Video

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Cinemagraphs provide lots of entertainment and low file sizes, like this refreshing GIF.

You may know them as “animated GIFs,” but whatever you call them, they’re like visual candy to website users. Cinemagraphs can be about any subject and they function as video clips.

Because they contain a very limited amount of animation, they don’t require lengthy load times, making them an attractive alternative for designers. Their file size makes them more like using a photo than integrating a video.

Cinemagraphs showcase a quick slice of action, and then repeat it endlessly. Beyond that, they’re just plain cool. (If you don’t believe us, check out these awesome animated GIFs.)

Cinemagraphs are already in wide use, but you can expect to keep seeing them integrated in future web design. The reason is simple: Users love seeing them and designers like using them.

Responsive Design: The New Baseline

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Responsive Design: Working on all platforms.

It’s an interesting circle: Web design influences how people use websites…but how people use websites also influences web design. And right now (and in the future), people are accessing websites via their mobile devices.

The overwhelming presence of smartphones means web designers must now design websites to be viewed optimally on all platforms – whether that involves smartphones, tablets or laptops. That makes this the age of Responsive Design.

That also means designers will use taller web pages (instead of wider pages), which lend themselves to scrolling. Designers will also be anticipating that users rely more now on making screen swipes instead of clicking on buttons.

This will produce a major visual shift in web design: the end of mandatory above-the-fold photos, which have been a staple of web design for some time.

Graphics Supreme

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The rise of interactive storytelling will ensure that graphic images just keeping better and better.

One key aspect of future web design that you can count on is the continued improvement of graphics used in websites.

That will add to the increased use of “interactive storytelling,” which relies heavily upon showcasing unforgettable images to produce an engrossing, user-driven experience. Those images can now be appreciated in full, thanks to super-sharp Retina displays and an increasing use of vector-based images.

Also, we can expect the use of more personal typography, such as handwriting, as well as a return to serif fonts, which tend to be more ornate than some of the more simple fonts that have been favored by Flat Design.

Come Learn Web Design with Us!

This summer is almost here and kids (ages 6-12) and teens (12-17) are gearing up for the fun learning experience of their lives at Digital Media Academy graphic design tech camps.

Discover the many wonders of web design, or check out any of our other fantastic camps, courses and two-week academies.

Start designing your future this summer at DMA!