A year in review: top web trends 2016

A year in review: top web trends 2016

It’s pretty incredible: Every single year, we’re treated to a new batch of developments and innovations in the design world that bubble up to the top. Somehow, they manage to transform the landscape as we knew it just the year prior. Of course, these “trends” are not sudden apparitions without precedence, but rather reflect a steady progression and movement that appears to “pop” to a point of noteable ubiquity. Sure, that particular shade of “millennial pink” was everywhere this last year, but certainly there were aesthetic and cultural precursors to the milky pink hue that might’ve tipped us off to its arrival.

As we think over the last year, we find ourselves taking note of a few standout web trends. Some, we love. Others… not so much! So it goes.

Have you noticed them, too? Are you already employing one (or several) of them, adding to the tidal wave of trendiness? Read on to  find out!

Stuck at Full Screen

“Scroll jacking,” as many people call it, corrals users through a site in a linear trajectory. It can be an initially uncomfortable user experience as it is a more prescribed interface with which to explore a site, the user’s engagement restricted to going left or right. We don’t mind the trend: Less cognitive load sites allow the user to consume info and worry less about digging around and possibly missing important information. It’s great for instructional or educational sites.

The Logo is the Loader

As brand (and logo!) obsessed as we are here, this trend of skipping the inclusion of a logo on a site is actually a sleeper hit for us.  When your brand’s name is so obviously included in the URL, do you really need a logo at the top of your site? This new trend seems to suggest “No.” Who woulda thunk? It makes sense, actually: Avoiding a logo allows the brand’s complete visual language and associated imagery to maintain a greater focus. It opens the door for developing that “look and feel” beyond just your brand name or logo.


(or no logo at all...)

Over the Top Animations

Disruptive, scene-stealing background animations on sites are not necessarily new. In fact, we can’t help but feel that it actually makes a site look a bit dated. Despite the “okay, what’s next?” feeling we have towards this trend, the examples below are using animation in a more tasteful and modern way. We are curious to see how this trend will continue to evolve over time.

Split Personality

Here’s one for the noncommittal. Sites that have two columns that scroll independently of each other was another interesting trend we’ve seen around. It makes for a visually rich look, and lets you enjoy the best of two worlds. Not traditional, but we give it two thumbs up!


The Squarespace Aesthetic

Have you been noticing that designer portfolios are all beginning to look, well, very much the same? Possibly due to the ease of use and saturation of Squarespace templates on the interwebs, there has definitely been a reigning look for portfolios of late. That being said, having a site that feels a bit too different than the norm can cause friction and confusion when you are hoping to attract clients.

For the Love of Grid

All designers learn about grids in school, are asked to abide by them, and sometimes break from them. It makes sense then that we’re starting to see sites whose design is heavily inspired by grids.  In some cases, designers expose the grid as a graphic device and cheeky, techny sort of nod to a graphic designer’s bible (Grids and raster systems).

Breaking the Grid

As our great typography teachers have always said, “you must make the grid in order to break the grid.” This rule-bending trend is especially popular with designer portfolios, and we don’t mind the surprise and playfulness at all.

Type as Imagery

Oversized, animated type or type filled in with patterns have become increasingly popular. What can we say? It’s a nice break from all of the sites with large immersive imagery. There is a crispness and simplicity, a graphic boldness to these designs that we can’t resist!

Parallax Lives

Often overused (or worse, misused), Parallax scrolling can add depth and dynamism to what can be a static medium. When in doubt, dial it back a notch. When it comes to Parallax, we think understated and subtle ought to be the goal.

#33333 is the New #00000

There has been a low hum on the internet about how type on websites is no longer legible for some due to Google’s typographic manual which suggests gray is the new black. If you are wondering whether or not there is enough contrast on your site, use this tool to check the values. You may be surprised.

Mobile First

As commerce increasingly moves online, it follows that brands might prioritize mobile design outright, rather than think of it as secondary to a desktop design.

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