Providing a better user experience (UX) is not just about making the site speedy or visually appealing – it is about making the site more enjoyable to use in order to drive conversations with consumers and promote your brand. As we begin a new year, many of the web design and development trends we see revolve around UX – from more effectively curating content, to making interactions clear and accessible to sprinkling in subtle animations. In no particular order, here are the top trends for 2016.
- 1. Content-first Design: Curating good, useful content is key to delivering a better UX and effectively supporting business goals. Content-first design involves first establishing a content strategy and clean information architecture, and then building the site around that content. This means cutting out “fluff” and honing in on the point of your website. To help do so, design for mobile first. If content doesn’t belong on your mobile site, you can probably eliminate it from your desktop site. Remember: quality over quantity.
- 2. UI Patterned-based Sites: User Interface (UI) patterned-based sites help improve the UX and streamline specific interactions – visitors know exactly what to do and where to go. Designed with the end user in mind, UI patterned-based sites provide a more unified experience on the website. Forms, online shopping carts, and mobile menus are examples of features that utilize UI patterns.
- 3. Hamburger Menus: Designed for touch and used mostly for mobile websites, hamburger menus (the icon with three horizontal lines that hide a navigation pattern) are now making their way to desktops. Although better suited for simpler sites with minimal navigation, hamburger menus help provide a consistent UX across all devices when done right. But, be cautious with this design element as out of sight can mean out of mind.
- 4. Video, Animations and Motion: According to a recent survey by Animoto, four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Fortunately, video, animations and motion are becoming easier to produce and show on a website, especially on mobile devices. Motion and video are great for better expressing ideas rather than text-heavy explanations. Animations, such as buttons that change color when clicked, enhance the UX and add an element of enjoyment. However, to be effective, these features must be done subtly and done well so they don’t affect load time or overwhelm the user.
- 5. Material Design: Created by Google, material design aims to create a clean, modernistic design that focuses on UX. While flat, or minimalist, design is still here to stay, material design is evolving. This trend incorporates visual details, animations, shadows and depth effects to further capture the user’s attention.
Of course, trends in mobile web development, like responsive design, aren’t going anywhere. However, responsive design – the methodology for providing a consistent UX across the device landscape – has become more of a best practice than simply a trend. While many companies focused on just making their site responsive and getting up to speed in 2015, this year, they will turn a more critical eye on making sure those responsive designs perform well. It’s all part of the ongoing effort to provide the best possible UX and keeping visitors (and customers) engaged.