How Web Design Will Change in 2016
Web design is always in a state of flux. 2016 will not be a year of revolutionary changes. However, there are two key trends on the horizon that will change the look of web design. Here is my shortlist of the top web design trends for 2016:
Alternative Stock Photography
The look of websites has long been shaped by rather generic stock photography. Until now, all web designers would go to the usual sources for the usual images. Yawn! We wanted lots of cheap stock images and we certainly got them. However, the intersection between cheap and interesting was rarely crossed. Finding cost-effective visuals that had genuine emotional content and a unique visual appeal was like finding a needle in a haystack. Not any longer!
In the past year, we've seen the emergence of free stock photo sources that offer compelling images shot by creative amateurs from all over the world. And, the photos are fascinating! Because these photos are internationally sourced, you sample creativity through the a very diverse prism. With a bit of research, you can find images that offer high levels of artistry. Most of the sources make the images available free for commercial use.
One of my personal favorites is Pixabay.com (the source of the photos featured above). It offers high quality, high-resolution stock photos for free (yes, free) from amateur photographers around the world. These are real-world photos, not the stiffly-posed stock that has been the norm for so long on the web. Along with other free image sources like unsplash.com and foter.com you now have a rich source of truly original images that will elevate the look of your web pages. In 2016, expect to see more websites using photos from these alternate sources. They are a creative breath of fresh air.
Design for Mobile First.
The next major web design trend for 2016 will be a sea-change in priorities. Since the beginning of Internet-time, we focused on making websites look great on desktop computers and laptops. Now, more than half of all online search and browsing is done on smartphones. In fact, more consumers are discovering that smartphones can handle all of their online needs. In 2015, for the first time, there was a slight decline in households adopting broadband Internet access. More consumers are shifting away from broadband (in all income segments) and using smartphones for all Internet access.
As web designers, we must now focus on making the user experience on smartphones as good as it can be. Mobile is no longer the ugly step-child of web design. Mobile users are now our most important audience. In 2016, we will see more websites that make mobile users the priority. Expect to see responsive websites that look a bit threadbare on desktop computers but perfect on smartphones.
Addendum: Mobile Shoppers on Amazon, Holiday Season 2015
Amazon released their annual Post-Holiday Press Release for 2015. It reveals what shoppers bought on Amazon.com, and how they bought it. Here are three key points from this press release that speaks volumes about the Mobile's domination of the Web:
♦ Nearly 70 percent of Amazon.com customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday.
♦ On Cyber Monday, Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 33 electronics per second from a mobile device.
♦ Amazon.com customers shopping on the mobile app more than doubled this holiday.
Both of these web design trends are incremental rather than revolutionary. But they will contribute to making websites in 2016 more attractive and usable! -Don Peterson