2017 was the year of gradients and duotones, and whilst these trends may well continue to be popular in 2018, there has been a definite creative shift with web design and we have been noticing new design elements emerging that look set to take centre stage in 2018.
We also think that compliance, security, reliability and performance will play a big (and important) role in future design and development trends too.
Below we have put together our favourite web design trends and predictions for 2018!
Everything really is mobile-first
Over recent years the web has been rapidly shifting towards mobile (and tablet) use over laptops and desktop PCs. As devices become ever more sophisticated and are built using more efficient components, this allows for more complex mobile web browsing and this means that mobile phones and tablets have been officially identified as the primary devices used for browsing the web.
Whilst this isn’t necessarily a new prediction or trend for 2018 as mobile-first web browsing has been buzzing around for some time, what it does signal is the need for businesses to ensure that their websites deliver quality content and a great, engaging browsing experience for smaller screens.
This is further quantified by Google and they will be rolling out their new Mobile First Index, placing more importance on the mobile (responsive) version of your website and will make it first to be seen in search results. This means that your business must have a quality, mobile-friendly and compliant design if it is to stand any chance of ranking in Google’s organic mobile search results.
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
AMP is growing in popularity as well. Even if you haven’t seen or heard of Accelerated Mobile Pages, it’s highly likely you will have read content that has been served via an AMP page in the past; perhaps a news item on Google or an article on Social Media for example.
Mobile websites can sometimes run a bit slow and take quite a while to load depending on the content within the website itself. The purpose of AMP is to allow websites to load quickly on mobiles by way of stripping back the code and content to display only the most important page elements and text content. The speed of AMP is also further boosted by loading media files (images, photos, videos and so on) using external resources and running page scripts in parallel to achieve instant loading pages.
Typography and colours
Typography focuses on lettering, specifically how you use letters and where on a website. Gone are the days where web safe fonts were used with boring, uninspiring paragraphs with little or no importance placed upon on the type of font used. 2018 looks set to focus on fonts in a big way, with large, bold text elements and interesting or even unusual looking fonts, paired with different font styles and weights to really bring interest to a page, and in some cases, well-considered type elements will replace illustrations and photography and take pride of place on a web page. This will also help to improve page load speeds, especially with mobile too; illustrations and photos can slow webpages down, whereas scaling font sizes won’t impact on the performance of your website.
Colours are becoming an even bigger factor in design too. Back in 2015, brands started to lean towards more pastel, flat colours that were safe and didn’t really step outside the creative box, so to speak.
In the years since companies have become braver with their colour choices and are opting for bigger, bolder and louder colour statements on websites. This advancement can really be attributed to the improvements in screen technology; monitors are more crisp and vibrant, and devices mostly use retina displays which makes colours look beautiful.
All this means that colours and fonts, either separately or combined, will play an equally important role, bringing together bold, bright and vibrant colour combinations and palettes with interesting fonts that will sit well alongside gradients and duotone styling. Why not experiment with combining different font styles and bold colours on your website to give it an on-trend twist?
More of a principle rather than a trend, responsive design has been around for many years, yet surprisingly it still tends to get overlooked in some cases. All the focus is placed on producing a beautiful looking desktop design, but no (or very little) consideration is given to mobile and tablet browsing.
Page elements that are out of place, text that shifts position, images that are too large and text that is far too small are just some of the many issues we have seen and had to fix for our clients, however with considerable importance being placed upon mobile-first web browsing in 2018, there will be no excuses for poorly designed websites that don’t deliver an excellent user browsing experience on mobile or tablet, and Google will likely penalise any website that doesn’t scrub up visually and technically.
We also expect the user experience revolution to continue expanding into new forms of technology, such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, too.
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
SVGs are not new and have been around for some time, however, in 2018 you can expect this graphic format to lead the way and eclipse more traditional file formats, such as GIF, PNG and JPG.
For more simple graphics, such as logos, simple backgrounds and images, SVGs have a huge advantage by way of being a vector image which makes them incredibly scalable whilst maintaining their crystal-clear quality. SVGs are also very lightweight too, meaning they won’t affect the page load speeds and they look great on screens and retina displays.
In our opinion, using authentic imagery will be one of the biggest shifts that will continue to evolve way beyond 2018. Images will always play a key role in web design; however, business owners are starting to think more carefully about the choice of imagery used on their websites with some even hiring professional photographers to capture the perfect images that portray all the right key messages, after all, first impressions mean everything.
Equally, consumers are becoming savvy to stock images and can generally sniff out a genuine photo from one purchased from a stock image site, but that said, whilst stock images will always have their place on a website when used carefully and are a staple part of web design, we expect to see more business owners opting to invest in their own portfolio of quality photographs and images to make their website more personal.
Open page design and asymmetry
Websites are no longer designed to fit defined sizes due to the wide and varying screen sizes that websites are viewed upon – from huge widescreen televisions right down to smart phones. Because of this, web designers are favouring more open web design composition and shying away from closed layouts.
Open composition web design is completely different to what we have become used to. Page elements appear to float, overlap other elements or even seem like images and other elements are falling off the side of the page with a fluid, airy and open design style.
This style of open web design is visually interesting and very engaging, however, tends to work for businesses that have less content to include online. For businesses that need to include more content within their website, using an open composition could be risky and cause confusion as it could make the page difficult to read due to content that doesn’t sit within clearly defined, titled sections and this could make browsing a chore for visitors.
Along with open page design comes clean, simple layouts with clear user navigation and good content. Gone are the days where websites are stuffed with flashy, gimmicky add-ons and designs that are cluttered, confused and hard to navigate. Nowadays people like to be able to open a website and quickly and easily find what they are looking for with minimal clicks/taps, and this really has been the case for a long time now, but with the mobile-first browsing standard set to significantly increase (as mentioned above), a well-designed, clean website layout that works well across all devices will become a necessity rather than an option.
So, expect to see a more minimalistic, simple and clean web design style throughout 2018, incorporating open design with good typography and purposeful imagery (also mentioned above). Not only will your customers appreciate it, but Google will also thank you for it too, and a clean, simple design with good content will undoubtedly benefit your search engine rankings too.
GDPR and website security
Strictly speaking GDPR and website security isn’t “design” led trends for 2018, however, both are significant from a website perspective.
In May 2018, Europe’s data protection rules will undergo their biggest overhaul in 20 years. This is mostly due to the huge increase in the amount of personal data captured and stored in today’s digital world, which meant the old data protection rules were no longer entirely relevant or robust.
To ensure consistency, GDPR will be introduced to strengthen and align data protection laws for individuals across the EU, as well as address the export of personal data outside Europe. It will also replace/update the existing Data Protection Act along with the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive.
Most, if not all websites, collect, process and store personal data in one way or another. Because of this, any business with an online presence needs to be aware of their obligation to make their website GDPR compliant and ensure that changes/updates are implemented where needed.
If you collect customer data by way of a newsletter signup or through customer enquiry, feedback or contact forms and store this in a database or similar, you will need to be GDPR compliant. This will also extend to any internal documentation and policies and procedures related to your use of personal data.
We have written another blog that focuses exclusively on GDPR and you can read this here. We also offer a GDPR compliance service too where we make your website fully GDPR compliant. We are a highly experienced team of in-house web developers who are commercially aware and fully versed in all the GDPR responsibilities and compliance requirements business owners must implement on their websites and in all connected internal documentation.
Equally as important is your website security. It’s an unfortunate but growing problem that in today’s internet world, more and more websites are getting hacked and compromised in one way or another. It seems that more and more news stories about hacked websites or data breaches emerge each month, and this is down to the lack of security on your website.
Earlier this year Google took steps to alert all users of websites that are unsecured, and if a website does get badly hacked Google will also display a “This site may be hacked” notice against your website within organic search results which can be damaging to your business. Remember that people will use your website, your products and/or services and share their information only if they trust your online presence.
It is incredibly important to ensure that your website is maintained from a security perspective, with platform versions (WordPress, Magento and similar) kept fully up-to-date as well as plugins, website theme versions (if using) and to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to maintain your website technically and that it is as secure as possible. Remember prevention is better than cure, and using a company like us to maintain your website on a monthly basis is the best option to keep your website fully protected and secure.
Final thoughts and summary
2018 will bring many website design and security-related changes and with the shift to mobile-first browsing, it is more important than ever before to make sure that your website displays perfectly on all devices – and loads fast too.
We think that the possible trend towards clean, simple open page design using typography in place of images and photographs along with an increased use of SVG files will see a positive jump in website load speeds and efficiency and this will improve SEO considerably too.
We also cannot ignore the GDPR legislation and the need to secure a website. Having a great website that ticks all the right boxes is one thing, however a lack of security and GDPR compliance will leave you vulnerable, so you will need to ensure you are covered.