The world of web design is still catching up to the breakneck speed of technological evolution. Software innovations and design trends have already conquered the problem of cross-platform compatibility (for the most part). Ever since website design has been slowly adjusting to the needs of users everywhere. In 2014 we saw the rise and fall of many different trends.
We learned things like HTML5/CSS3 are still dominant, mobile-first will continue to grow, and minimalistic layouts are here to stay. Now that we approach the end of 2015 we have seen the rise and fall of even more trends. In 2015 we have also seen of certain staples and like flat design, responsive design and the use of high quality images become solidified. This article will discuss 8 WordPress website trends that have established themselves after the dusted has settled.
Flat website designs started to become more and more prevalent in the year 2013 and continued to gain steam in 2014. 2015 was no different, flat design continued its reign as an all-purpose concept that gets the job done. Checkout your websites CSS stylesheet and work backwards through it. If you have a lot of drop shadows, gradients, and textures you might want to delete them.
By now we can consider a flat website design an industry standard. This doesn’t mean that the future of flat design won’t have any depth. Google has been touting the concept they dubbed as “material design,” which is based on visual oriented storytelling, bold graphics and animation effects. The future of flat design is still yet to be written but if Google has anything to do with it, we may just be seeing a trend to incorporate “material design.”
I personally like to add some depth here and there, but in case you haven’t heard Google announced earlier this year that “material design” is on their list of priorities when it comes to ranking websites. This means that those who incorporate simplicity and economic use of resources will reap the benefits. Flat designs are ideal for browsing with mobile devices and give users an intuitive browsing experience.
As higher quality images are easier to work with, and devices can push more and more bits back and forth between enpoints, more advanced options for adding quality images present themselves. The nature of language itself has been changing based on how people communicate online. In 2014 we saw emojis and infographics soar in comparison to regular text. Imaged based storytelling will not be the death of text in my opinion, but it will definitely drive it into more of a niche market.
More and more sites are looking like graphic novels/video games. Storytelling with different design elements are allowing websites to convey their messages in a much more dynamic way than they could in the past. This image rich style of storytelling is a very effective way to stir emotions, tell stories and create compelling narratives. This can be done with a combination of symbols, typography, pictures, video and audio.
How many more times do we need to hear it? Perhaps one more. A picture is worth a thousand words. As a writer this concerns me a little bit, but as a storyteller I am excited to incorporate more images into my pieces. In 2015 we have seen a growing tendency to use backgrounds with hi quality graphics, images or videos. This attention to visual stimulation is now prevalent more than ever. Instead of dominating our screens with text, designers and users have opted for background images. The reason is its just plain better – especially for mobile environments.
In 2015 we have seen some great use of background videos for branding. When done with the right amount of subtly, background videos can captivate your audience and create just the right atmosphere on a page.
Another trend we’ve seen grow is the use of large, full-width background images. This was already an integral design element of one page sites, but now a beautiful full screen image is almost a must when you are creating a photography portfolio or any site with a creative tinge. CSS3 animations work great with hi quality images. Checkout X Theme to see good use of hi quality background images.
It’s not hard to find places to purchase unique and rich typography at affordable prices. It’s always a good idea to invest in this kind of thing and you should definitely reconsider using plain old Ariel or Times New Roman whenever possible.
We have seen typography blow up in 2015. Typography is more than just font, its spacing and symbols as well. The font you choose can say a lot more than what’s spelled out in the text. It’s an important part of design that goes back hundreds of years. Typography is music for your eyes.
Google Fonts and other reasonably priced type kits are not hard to find. Thanks to this, designers have been able to match typography and give it a more integral role in web design. This trend is something you really shouldn’t ignore. The typography chosen help tell a story, convey a brand or image and add style or personality. If you want to jazz up your WordPress website with some eye popping typography, you can do this by using certain themes that come bundled with great typography or adding a number of different typography plugins.
Responsive is a must
This can barely even be consider a trend at this point. It’s now an industry standard – you just won’t be able to hang with the competition if you aren’t building responsive sites. It’s a huge mistake not to design sites so they respond to different screens and devices. This year we have seen just about every new WordPress theme and all the old ones incorporate responsive design into their templates. Expect responsive design to become even more integral for survival of any website as more and more people browse from many different mobile devices.
Nobody loves to talk menus more than me. Anytime I get to utter the phrase “hamburger menu” I laugh inside. Hamburger menus, if you don’t know, are the hidden menus usually located in a corner of the page with three lines. Hidden menus that fly out have become all the rage and continue to be an ever present force in web design, especially for mobile sites. Mobile users love the way these menus pop out, making browsing fun and simple.
Fly out menus have taken over as the top choice for modern menu templates. As minimalistic designs become ubiquitous it’s only natural that minimal menus have become the go to option for designers. There are many cool fly-our menu plugins for WordPress including our very own Superfly.
Thanks the proliferation of mobile first design concepts, scrolling has continued to reign supreme over clicking. It improves user experience by making browsing more intuitive and simple. It’s also a much more interactive experience and plays an important role in page loading time. There have been many studies that show that fast page loading time is one of the biggest keys to a successful website.
Most of the time people browsing on tablets or phones will be using their fingers to scroll and desktop users will use the wheel. It makes sense endless scrolling is now becoming the standard for online stores or any page that a lot of content. This way the content loads quickly without users having to click through large page lists. This offers advantages in page loading time, transitions between information and the functionality of single-page sites.
WordPress has many themes that include a Parallax scrolling effect. Images and elements on the page move at different speeds or directions to create a stunning effect.
Checkout ChurchHope, a non-profit theme, to see good use of this effect. I thought that more sites would jump on board with the Parallax effect and I hope to see more in 2016. Nevertheless endless scrolling has made it’s case and it’s another trend that is here to stay.
Endless scrolling is just one of the trends that has contributed to the death of the multipage site. Get ready for more and more sites to behave just like your favorite social networks by aggregating content in real time. Modularizing content is a trend that his risen in 2015. To reduce jumping to link after link, websites are compartmentalizing content into elements within the page. Visitors can stay on the site while new content refreshes in real time.
WordPress offers many themes that use modular design such as Status Theme. There are also a lot of plugins such as Flow Flow that aggregate social media content to create beautiful card style layouts to showcase fresh content from multiple places on a single page.
Performance & speed
Since the first smartphone, and even before that page loading time has become an integral part of succeeding in web design. Performance and speed affect your page ranking with search engines (when we say search engines we usually mean Google) as well as user experience. It’s now a mandatory part of every web designer’s skillset to be able to optimize performance. This means having the knowledge to create sites with clean code that use resources in an efficient manner. People nowadays know they shouldn’t have to wait forever for a page to load.
We live in a society where most people have a pretty short attention span. Whether that is the evolution of communication or a symptom information overload is debatable. We do know that most people don’t have time to sit down and gather information themselves. This is where a lot of these trends come from, serving the needs of users.
As our tools for reading, writing and sharing information change, so do our tastes. The previous trends all use design elements that focus on delivering content quickly while clearly presenting as much information as possible. This balance is what has brought us the internet as we know it today, full of infographics, videos, images and ways to quickly view this content.
None of these things on their own are particularly revolutionary as far as communication. Use of multimedia to tell stories, fast page loading times, rich typography, minimalism, responsive design and increased user interaction all are part of effectively conveying ideas. Incorporating all of these elements into a website takes some discipline, subtlety and some skill. There’s no single recipe for coming up with a trendy website that will serve its purpose but there are standards in place that are hands down some of the best solutions. Let us know your favorite trends and/or any predictions for the future of WordPress web design.