It is a New Year, and as we turn another page in the calendar it’s time to take a look at what is trending in web development. From machine learning to web security, blockchain to augmented reality, we’re seeing the endless horizon of an ocean of technological possibilities that will be available on websites. While many of these technologies are bleeding edge, for many clients, these may seem impractical or irrelevant to their business needs. However, there are still important options that developers and designers can put to good use to keep sites current. While we are primarily a WordPress-centric design shop, we work with tools that enable us to build upon that foundation and we avoid tunnel vision by keeping a finger on the pulse of growing technologies. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to see in vogue for websites this year.
Micro-Interactions have been a growing trend in recent years. Many of the large tech companies such as Google and Facebook have been incorporating more into their applications. I actually covered this topic in a blog post on humanizing web design just a couple of years ago.
Micro-interactions are ornaments of design with one purpose: to engage the user a singular function that is both inviting and contributes to the larger experience of interacting with a website. Examples of micro-interactions happen when checking Facebook and seeing the red icon display your message count, or the little pops and boops when you touch an icon or button in the native mobile app.
Header transitions, hover animations and modular scrolling, fade effects, animated charts, background animations, chimes and beeps, and smoother, cleaner transitions will be baked into designs to make websites feel like an extension of the user’s experience. This is a simple and pleasing way to involve your audience in your website, subtly transmit information to the users about their actions and usage, and make web pages feel smarter. Micro-interactions will give web designers the ability to use more screen real estate resulting in more whitespace, color contrast, and clear, bold typography without too many distracting elements. Websites will have behavioral factors as if they are communicating with users, all while maintaining a minimalistic form factor.
“Less is more” is becoming the adopted adage, and the aesthetic of choice by many web designers. Minimalism influences and condenses a website’s information architecture and promotes the ability to focus on the most important content rather than be distracted by unnecessary stacked layout elements and excessive text. With the correct use of negative space, and fewer elements and content on a website, the less your audience will have to think. Today’s user seeks information that is consumable in small bites and to the point so that they can move on to the next item. If a website is properly designed, it will convey to the users the desired information.
Videos, plain and simple, are far more compelling than textual or image content. This trend has appeared on social media platforms with more deliberate consistency over the last couple of years. Video posts on Facebook and Twitter are algorithmically prioritized over other posts. They even made it easier to watch videos by auto-playing on mute while you scroll through your feed.
Videos are captivating, and when a user visits your site with an ambient video playing in the background, they’re likely to stay and watch. The more that a user stays on your site, the less your bounce rate, the higher your site time metric, and the better your SEO will be.
What could take paragraphs to explain, video conveys in a fraction of the time. Do a quick search for video marketing stats and you’ll find staggering results. Viewers retain 95% of what they watch in a matter of seconds.
PWA & AMP
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are taking over static web pages as the vehicle to get content to the user in the quickest amount of time.
A PWA is simply a web page that works online or offline and replicates a native mobile experience. It supports interactions, and allows a quality user experience. A common use case for a PWA would be an e-commerce site so users can select an item and purchase it quickly with their pre-saved buying and shipping information.
2019 should see bigger steps towards inclusiveness. The Internet instantly brings together billions of people around the world from all walks of life. From WCAG compliance to cultural representation, accessibility has always been an important pillar in the foundation of the web.
It’s a simple act of kindness to make room for others, and if you build with an inclusive mindset in your design process, it can prove to be the ultimate user experience for everyone.