What year was that Website published? In many cases, you can ballpark the year that a given Website was created just by looking at its design. Just like you can tell when a family picture was taken based on the hairstyles they’re sporting or the clothes they’re wearing.

It’s not just about Web design that’s hip or cool, it’s about Web design that’s responsive to the changing needs of users. Those needs are dynamic, thanks in large part to the evolving ways that people access content. Changing technology means changing interfaces, meaning Web design has to keep up. The aesthetic is important too, with images and video becoming increasingly more important than text.

In order to stay relevant and accessible, Web design has to keep up with the times. Here are 12 Web design trends that you’re going to want to know about in 2016:

Rich Typography

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The written word is becoming more beautiful on the Web. As sites become increasingly filled with images, text is forced to find ways to compete. As a result, text is becoming more and more like images, offering a visual enticement for users to read it. One great trick is to pair a decadent typeface with a more conventional one, allowing readability while capitalizing on visual appeal.

Bright & Bold Colors

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Throwbacks are in this year when it comes to color. Think back to those family pictures we mentioned earlier and imagine the bright and bold colors of the 1980’s on the Web. This is going to be a big trend this year, and one that sets 2016 apart from 2015, when earth tones and muted hues were much more fashionable. This year excitement and attention are in.

Micro Interactions

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Increasingly we find that user interaction isn’t just about what’s happening when the user is on a specific site. Low key notifications and simple alarms connect users to sites and allow them to become entwined with content. It might be a text or a pop-up, a blip or an alarm. They have to provide value to the user without being intrusive. People today want be part of something without feeling as though they’re being sold on it, and micro interactions build that kind of genuine relationship.

Moving Elements

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Animation is a hot trend for 2016. The key here is to keep it small and keep it relevant. What purpose does a given animation serve? It might keep a user interested while content is loading or a transaction is processing, or it could draw attention to a specific part of the page. The essential thing is to keep it low key rather than creating a distraction. You can see an example of low-key animation on Imaginovation’s homepage.

Video Headers

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There’s definitely a wow factor for hero-style video headers, especially now that connection speeds are increasing so that video loads seamlessly. Users are also becoming more accustomed to embedded video, so it doesn’t feel as intrusive as it did even a few years ago. These are becoming longer and less like commercials, instead feeling more akin to movie trailers.

Card-Style Interfaces

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Easy to access on any device, card style interfaces give users the kind social media-esque organization that they’ve become so accustomed to. Stackability means that they look great and are easy to access across many devices. Cards are useful for almost every kind of content – from images to text to video to shopping to a mix. Versatility is the name of the game.

Hand-Drawn Style

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Even as technology becomes more embedded, plan to see more rough around the edges design rather than sleek and modern design this year. Fonts and images that look to be handwritten or drawn will be on the rise in 2016, with Websites looking for that human touch to connect with users. This style gives users a sense of connection and personal interaction.

Vertical Scrolling

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This one is really in response to the ever increasing number of users who are accessing content on mobile devices. While it seemed for a while that vertical scrolling was going the way of the dinosaur, it’s come roaring back. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about flicking a touchscreen and to move through content, plus it’s incredibly intuitive as it is reminiscent of reading down a page.

Full Screen Slides

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Sliding headers are so last year. In 2016, look for full pages that slide, allowing users to quickly move through pages of content. In many ways this could be seen as the opposite of vertical scrolling as it takes the action left to right rather than up and down, but slides offer a bit more control as they can be timed, clicked or scrolling depending on the desired effect. Bigger is better when it comes to slides.

The Hamburger Icon

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This element of Web design is going to become even more ubiquitous in 2016. Already we’re seeing those three little lines just about everywhere, and now they’re almost completely integrated into the language of the internet. The reason is that they’re incredibly visual and useful, allowing users to see quickly that there is further content available.

Oversized Icons

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Bigger and more elaborate icons are becoming increasingly relevant on the Web. This is a great trend to hop onboard with because it’s affordable and easy to implement without a big redesign. Innovations in SVG formatting is allowing for larger and easier to use icons to come into the mix.

Blurring Reality

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Perhaps the biggest trend of 2016 is the further blurring of reality. We’ve seen toes dipped in on this one in the past several years, but we’re going to see a lot more of it this year. Users today are looking for immersive experiences that provide entertainment as well as engagement. Customization is a big part of this trend, even if it’s not really true. The advent of photoshopped images means that people are accustomed to seeing images that they question. To combat the cynicism, we’re going to see lots more images that are clearly not real but that look real. Invoking imagination and whimsy increases user engagement and interest in 2016.

Expanding on Current Trends

2016 on the Web is going to be an expansion of many of the trends that we saw in 2015, with websites increasingly becoming places where users feel as though they have expanded autonomy while still establishing a personal connection through the screen. It’s also important to note how critical it is that designs translate seamlessly to mobile devices and in fact how that kind of access is driving Web design. The Web is about connection. As it becomes more embedded in all aspects of life in 2016, designers will need to come up with more strategies to like hamburger icons and stackable cards that allow users to connect with ease.


Pete Peranzo

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