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2015 Website Design Trends – What’s Hot and What’s Not

Website design is constantly evolving. New trends emerge and old trends disappear and then after a few years old trends sometimes reappear. The two dominant themes for 2015 are going to be mobile and user experience and user interface (UX/UI). The best designers focus on user experience because that’s what matters in the end. Design and style are highly subjective and debatable, but it is the user experience that measures the actual success of a website. Therefore, most of these trends relate to UI/UX.

What’s Hot? Simple, flat design elements.
What’s Not? 3-d graphics, drop shadows

Flat Design

The concepts of flat design are pretty simple; strip the object off any design element which is not 100 per cent purposeful in its function. This includes removing any special shadow effects, 3-D graphics and using only flat shapes, buttons and indicators.

What’s Hot? One website that works on all devices.
What’s Not? Separate mobile sites

Responsive Design

Responsive design is here to stay – it just doesn’t make sense to run dedicated mobile websites anymore.

What’s Hot? Websites with long scrolling pages.
What’s Not? Sites with too much navigation

Endless Scrolling

Example of endless scrolling website

Example of endless scrolling website

It took a while, but long scrolling pages have become the norm because it’s far easier to scroll through a site than clicking on buttons and links. This has been aided by the growth of responsive web design, full-width sites, and the use of white space. This doesn’t mean that endless scrolling is everywhere, but it is typically found on home pages and e-commerce product pages. The most notable example is Apple’s page for its iPhone 6.

What’s Hot? Rich custom background.
What’s Not? Stock image or white background

High Quality Custom Background

Plain stock photography no longer works in website design. Websites want to look unique and need to grab a visitor’s attention. Professional photography that is customized to the website’s theme and purpose ensures that a site is unique. HTML video is also being used as a way to establish a distinct, custom look. Bing’s search engine frequently uses HTML 5 powered video backgrounds.

What’s Hot? Interactive storytelling.
What’s Not? Boring websites

Interactive Storytelling

While great content has always been a requirement for a successful website, in 2015 the best websites will be the ones that can tell and sell content through a story. The best example in this regard is the Tesla Motors Your Questions Answered page. The page uses large images and embedded infographics to answer consumer questions about the cars and their features. This website is a very successful example of all of the best 2015 website design trends.

Your Questions Answered Tesla Motors

What’s Hot? Parallax scrolling.
What’s Not? Non-interactive backgrounds

Parallax Scrolling

Parallax scrolling is a design technique where the background scrolls at a slightly different pace relative to the foreground. This adds some depth to the page and is very popular on magazine style websites.

Conclusion

I think we are going to see iterative developments of 2015 website design trends like flat and responsive design in the coming months with an overall focus on optimizing the user experience for mobile and devices of all sizes.

Ten Web Design Trends for 2014

1. Unique Typography

For many years websites have used standard serif and san-serif fonts like Helvetica.  In 2013 there was a shift to more unique fonts with personality. This trend is definitely going to continue in 2014.

2. Flat Design

You can thank Apple for this one. With the release of iOS7 came the design aesthetic most commonly known as “flat design.” While eliminating drop shadows and gradients might seems like a good idea in some cases to give a more updated look to things, Apple took it to a whole other level by dropping pretty much any design element it could.

Apple has for a long time been a trendsetter, and what Apple does, the rest of the world seems to follow. iOS7 has been out for a while and already there are a flood of sites coming online every day with new “flat” designs.

3. Say Goodbye to Sliders and Hello to Large Hero Areas

Large hero areas (the “intro” area, often an image with a little amount of text, at the top of a website – a borrowed term from print design) on website home pages are very popular right now. Look at Line25’s Sites of the Week for the first week of January and you’ll see that almost all of them reflect this change in design.

4. Greater Focus on Mobile

Now that responsive web design is more commonplace, developers and designers are focusing more attention on the mobile audience (which is growing constantly). Integration with social media, asking for email subscriptions, long scrolling sites (see below), and fast loading sites all help make the mobile Web a more friendlier place in 2014.

5. Videos in Place of Text

Why read about something when you can watch it? In 2014, you will start to see websites with large videos in the hero area. The cost of video production is going down and they are increasingly easier to share online and on social media.

6. Long Scrolling Sites

Sometimes these are called one-page sites. This is a design feature that has come full circle. Websites used to have way too much content on long scrolling pages and then there was a shift to more complicated menu structures and additional pages. Responsive design and designing for a mobile audience has led us back to the idea that it’s actually comfortable to scroll down through content. The difference that 2014 brings is a greater attention to design – look for long scrolling sites with plenty of white space, unique layout, and fonts.

7. Simple Color Schemes

In 2014, we will see a lot more website with very simple color schemes. And by simple, we mean really only one or two colors.

Take for instance the UIKit site above. That site has only one hue: blue (in design and art, white and black aren’t considered colors, but neutrals). The use of a more simple color scheme seems to come with flat design (discussed above), but not always. The site above uses blue predominantly throughout the design, but it is the only color you see.

Some websites being launched now are using very little color, or even forgoing color all together. White, black, and everything in between are popular color schemes now, and adding just a hit of another color, such as red, adds drama and impact – all things that garnish attention when used in the right way.

8. Simplified Content

Simplified content means short bursts of content, a la Twitter style. Over the years as a population, our attention spans have become shorter, so designers have compensated for that by putting content in short bursts instead of long narratives. Not many areas (aside from blog posts) have more than 250 characters. This is because readers are scanning as a new way to consume content.

9. Dropping the Sidebar

You see this more in magazine and news sites, but many are experimenting with dropping the sidebar altogether. This allows for a more visual with content.

10. Manipulated Imagery

In 2014, we are going to see sites with images that have color overlays, blurred images, or even images that are reminiscent of Instagram images with filters.

11. Bonus – Cool New Website Technology

We are going to continue to see websites experiment with cool new HTML5-driven technology. For example, Tobi’s Story’s website is a great use of really cool things done in a great way.