Cutting the Clutter. A Year in Review.
With the New Year approaching, everyone’s speculating about what web design trends will stand out in 2015. I believe we can better forecast by taking a glance back, and reflecting on what a big year 2014 was for web design. This year’s success can be measured by the beautiful streamlined designs focused on impactful imagery, and cutting the clutter. We believe many of these trends are here to stay, and can graduate themselves from trends, to web practices to live by.
Here are the top 10 trends we swore by in 2014:
1. Teasing Typography
Although typography has always been on the mind of the designer, it has been given a new platform to express itself: the web. Thanks to new web friendly fonts and typekits, designers are given the opportunity to go beyond the traditional web fonts (no offense, Helvetica). These unique fonts can bring big personality to a design, and supply designers with another tool to “wow” users.
2. Anything But, Flat Design
I think we all remember when Apple started an uproar with the release of their iOS7 “flat design” over a year ago. Their 2D approach sent a shock wave through user interface (UI) design, and provided a streamlined solution for a responsive web environment. Stripping away the overpowering gradients and drop shadows, the “flat design” movement has brought forth a simple, clutter-free approach to displaying information. Although it has been awhile since Apple revealed their new look, ‘flat design’ inspired sites continue to dominate the web.
3. Be Responsive
Although responsive design has been on the rise for a few years now, it took home the gold in 2014. Web developers and designers alike are using what they know about users to make the most fluid, intuitive sites yet. Sites like the World Wildlife Fund (animals, and responsive design, yes please!) are working diligently to educate and encourage donations by enhancing usability throughout all platforms.
4. Larger Than Life Imagery
2014 gave way to sites overflowing with elegant imagery using minimal content. The large impactful imagery cuts through the clutter and keeps the visual story alive. No matter if the image is blurred or manipulated, each image brings depth to the user experience. Images that speak, and visuals that engage; that is the way of the future. Spotify is a music empire using images to tell its story.
5. Keep Scrolling
“Below the fold” is a thing of the past (not that I ever believed in it). This year, designers took advantage of real-estate that was under-utilized in the past: the scroll. Users are now more intuitive to scrolling, making them fearless and willing to explore a site. UI designers took advantage of this knowledge and brought forth sites that capitalized on the scrolling feature. Sites continue to “scroll on” as seen on Visage. Cheers to this visually appealing finger exercise.
6. Minimalistic Color Schemes
Although color options are endless, designers took a milder approach to web colors in 2014. Keeping the rainbow effect at bay, designers opted to using 1-2 colors. Keeping sites neutral, and focusing on only one bold color can bring focus and hierarchy to important design elements or content. Check out this great example on Focus Lab, LLC.
7. To The Point Content:
Websites of 2014 found a way to minimize content while keeping the message relevant. Users don’t want to read a book just to understand your mission or brand. To-the-point content can get to the heart of your message without diluting with excess verbiage. Despite user’s skimming habits, we still believe content is big in the business and what you say needs to pack a punch to capture your audience (quickly). Less content means more room for visual aids, which makes for a well rounded website.
8. Fixed Content:
With all this scrolling users were doing, developers took advantage of anchored or fixed content to keep important elements available at all times. Whether it is an anchored navigation, or stoic logos, this treatment makes scrolling more manageable for users. This nearly fool proof approach to navigation won’t see it’s last days in 2014.
9. Parallax Scroll’n
Parallax scrolling found a place in 2014 with its attention grabbing depth, and clean transitions. It took the fundamental gesture of scrolling and made it an interactive experience. This treatment marries minimal content and bold images in a way that keeps users on the page and engaged in the web experience. These sites not only excelled at this style, they made it their own: The Yellow Conference and JELÍNEK.
10. Press Play
Videos didn’t make their debut in 2014 but the unique way designers started displaying them did. Designers started incorporating large videos in backgrounds, and in place of hero graphics. This technique may slow site load times but it adds another layer to the visual and interactive web experience. These two examples deliver an interactive experience from the minute you press play: FiftyThree, Inc. and Adidas.
The trends of 2014 catapulted us into a new dimension of design, focused on cutting the clutter and added layers to the user experience. 2015 will have some big shoes to fill as we push on to the New Year of web design.