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The eight web design trends that are important for 2017

Which web design trends should you especially pay attention to in 2017? In the last 20 years, web design has undergone a rapid development, which has been characterized by technological advances and countless new design options. Back then, web design trends lasted a long time, but nowadays they barely have time to fully unfold. What has stayed the same though, is the need for user-friendliness and high informational content, and especially now that more and more people are online.

Modern web design: (Mobile) adaptation with technical innovations

The web design trends of 2017 are headed in a clear direction: optical design is increasingly playing second fiddle to the new focus point of optimized usability for visitors. This is the new tune that content increasingly dances to: added value for the reader, regardless of the device. It is precisely this reason that responsive design will remain a keyword for web designers in 2017. The website or web app will only be successful if it can respond to the properties of each device and be clearly displayed on them.

Making sure to stay up to date on the latest versions of HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3, and integrating them in an optimal fashion ensures that your website design remains highly flexible. And no matter what resolution or input method (a touch screen or mouse, for example) a device requires, content and other graphical elements should always be offered in a uniform way, if possible.

The advantages of responsive design are clear: flexible and automatic adaptation make it easier to use the latest mobile device and also ensures a quick switch to future output media. In contrast to mobile sites, which are separately set up with a template and managed differently than traditional websites, new or changed content on a responsive website only needs to be entered one time.

Eight trends which will dominate web design in 2017

Some of the newest web design trends, which will continue their march into 2017 by focusing on recent topics like premium and personalized content, are included in the following list.

1. Use established layout forms

Since a good and well thought-out layout will quickly be copied, you see this happening often when it comes to web design trends. The user interfaces of many websites and web apps are based on tried-and-tested practices when it comes to the design and structure of content. Here, the layout always influences the user friendliness of a website. Basically, you can’t go wrong with a well-organized website interface. You can get presentation ideas from long-established websites or from blog designs on smaller websites. Two layout trends which are more recent will make their way onto many graphical user interfaces in 2017.

One phenomenon has developed so fast that many users already see it as in integral part of the menu presentation: the small menu button, known as the 'hamburger button'. Initially, it was mainly used for drop-down menus on mobile websites and apps. In the meantime, the sign has been used as the menu button on many desktop versions. It looks similar to a layered hamburger and is illustrated using the mathematical symbol '≡', which actually means 'identical'.

The second, more recent web design trend affects how content is presented. Card layouts (also known as 'card-based design') are being used more and more frequently. Here, text and/or image-based content or 'call to action' buttons are presented in several boxes that are distributed over the user interface.

This offers several advantages: in addition to the many ways it enables a website to be clearly and visually presented, the card layout is also advantageous from a pragmatic point of view: since the individual boxes or cards act as containers for web content, they can be easily moved within the website design grid. Redistributing site content is made a lot easier with a responsive web layout. The card layout became especially popular mainly through various image platforms such as Pinterest or web design platforms like Dribbble.

2. Interactive Storytelling

Convincing content is the be-all-end-all for every website. But even the most credible and reliable websites need to present their information in a way that enables their content to emotionally draw in visitors. Taking advantage of visual and interactive design elements, like storytelling, is becoming an increasingly popular method for turning even the driest of topics into interesting, presentable content. A New York Times piece from 2012, called “Snow Fall“, illustrates a successful example of mixing factual information with multimedia content. The report covers the events of a group of skiers in a text with over 10,000 words. New life is breathed into this text thanks to the aid of specially prepared interviews, videos, photos, and animation.

Offering content that is both catchy and informative ties visitors to a form of interactive presentation that increases the chances of positive reactions. Successful storytelling promotes a balanced performance and avoids oversaturating content with too much animation.

3. Infinite Scrolling

An old friend returns to the list of web design trends to look out for in 2017: Infinite scrolling allows website visitors to access new content simply by scrolling instead of clicking. When the end of a paragraph or set of information is reached, the next portion of a page’s content is automatically accessed, thereby creating a seamless transition between text and multimedia elements. Social networks, like Facebook or Instagram, have long since employed this method to present their users with content that is as uncomplicated as possible. Infinite scrolling has also been a common tool used in blogs for some time now and is sure to play a large role in 2017 and beyond.

Infinite scrolling should be applied in situations where the website operator is unable to discern exactly which information is most relevant for the visitor. The same also applies to cases where different pieces of information are of equal relevance for the reader. The following points – especially when regarding aspects related to search engine optimization – should be closely followed when deciding to implement this scroll feature:

  • Individual URL for every subpage
  • Overlapping content should be strictly avoided
  • Visitors should be able to easily locate the sought-for information
  • Loading time should be reasonable

4. Parallax Scrolling

Although parallax scrolling may not belong to the newest web design trends, the next years will still prove to be important for the increasingly popular function. This method has been an essential building block for modern websites over the past few years. The special ability to move various levels of a website at different speeds creates special visual effects that keep the fascinated visitor scrolling and, as a result, staying on the page longer. These effects are ideally combined with elements that prompt the visitor to carry out a desired action. For this reason, parallax scrolling is an excellent feature to use in tandem with interactive storytelling. A particularly illustrative example of this sort of use is the website, 'Every Last Drop'.

5. Ideal loading times

While the above mentioned methods help provide more easily accessible content for visitors, these same features, can, under some circumstance, lead to another problem of modern web design: Incorporating elaborate graphics into websites often increases the loading time. Developers must therefore carefully evaluate which multimedia and interactive content offers the user an added value and which unnecessarily hamper speed. Generally, it is best to follow a “less is more” approach here; this is not a prompt to return to the principles of flat design, however.

Plainly stated, the same concepts apply to videos, photos and other forms of graphical media as they do to content: they should be valuable, unique, and relevant for the user. Additionally, content should only be loaded when the visitor accesses it. Users of mobile devices or those with poorer internet connections especially benefit from well-structured sites that are free of unnecessary clumps of data.

6. Stronger use of typography

What once was out, now is in: whereas large typefaces and multiple fonts were once seen as taboo, a healthy mix of font design has since become a popular trend of web design. When properly implemented, fonts that mesh harmoniously with one another often have positive effects on users. Different sized fonts help the readers differentiate between structures of a text. Through this method, larger elements are perceived first.

Generally, fonts should be carefully selected and should match the product, company, theme, or target group they are representing. One key rule, however, trumps all the artistic freedom in choosing an appropriate font: the text must be legible.

7. High quality background elements

The main problem of popular stock photos is implied in their very name: they are available to everyone. Most likely, these photos can be found all over the web and do little to generate additional attention. For this reason, one of the significant web design trends in 2017 is to use as many high quality, unique photos as possible – especially for the backgrounds of websites. Sticking to this rule boosts web presence by offering more personalized content.

A further possibility when customizing website backgrounds entails using videos or moving pictures. As with other additional features, it is imperative to first determine how such an adjustment affects performance aspects.

8. High quality Illustrations

An additional web design trend that allows some websites to free themselves from the typical conventions of content and simultaneously gain more attention involves including hand drawn illustrations. Illustrations allow designers to echo concepts found in a text in a way that is both easy to understand and complementary to the content’s main message. This approach especially rings true in the context of multimedia. Furthermore, texts with illustrations are difficult for competitors to copy and provide an excellent means of standing out among the masses. Hiring a professional graphic designer is well worth a thought for those who are unable to produce such illustrations themselves. A prominent example of using such illustrations is the homepage of the online storage service, Dropbox.

Web design trends: a path to success

A wide range of trends has shaped the world of web design over the past few years. Of these, however, only few stay in vogue long enough to have a lasting effect on the field. For the web design trends of 2017, responsive design will continue to be of considerable relevance. In the future, web designers will aim to make using websites easier to access and even more user friendly. This goal does not distinguish between the various modes of accessing the web. Whether it be desktop, smartphone, or tablet, optimizing the web presence for every device should be the main goal when following these trends.

For the trend of interactive storytelling, parallax and infinite scrolling are key methods to use when accompanying the visitor on his journey through a website. Readers are presented with information in an informative and engaging manner, rather than simply barraging them with an assault of mindlessly targeted content. Hand drawn illustrations, premium background elements, and individual fonts all provide websites with a personal touch.

In an age where content is king, providing the visitor with personal and emotionally engaging material counts now more than ever. And perhaps above all, one central tenet should especially be adhered to when on the lookout for the hottest trends this year: offering the user valuable content that speaks to them is the first step for a successful path to exceptional web presence.

Whoever is building their own website or would like to update their existing site should let themselves be inspired by the 2017 web design trends.

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