7 Web Development Trends to Watch for in 2016

Web development and design moves at the speed of technology. What does the industry have in store for 2016? Tomorrow looks promising, with cutting edge web development trends that boost the look and navigability of your website.

1) Parallax scrolling gets more intuitive

Scrolling web pages can be annoying. Many people who use the computer frequently use a mouse wheel or shortcut keys to scroll, but generally, most people use the scroll button on the side of the page. This cuts down on the user experience; who wants to spend time looking for a scroll bar and then find the exact position it needs to be to read the content? The advent of mobile phones has brought us scrolling with our thumbs, which is now carrying over into website development. New sites will be built to make scrolling with a simple gesture much easier, instead of having to click all over the site.

This is already evident in parallax scroll sites. There are fewer buttons, and the buttons that are there are bigger and easier to click. We’ll start seeing those annoying slideshows of content morph into one, parallax scrolling list. This example of parallax scrolling at Madwell is a striking showcase of images and usability. Scrolling is engaged by moving and static images, and buttons are easy to find and click. The slow scrolling action lends depth and interest to the site.

2) Seeing ghosts

Ghost buttons are all the rage right now – and for good reason. They’re transparent and don’t clutter the image behind. They immerse users in the experience of the website instead of distracting them with loud, obnoxious buttons screaming to be clicked.

These see-through buttons are outlined with a simple line, which can be catered to fit the design aesthetic. In this way, they’re not just a button on the page, but rather a component which fits the design and even complements it. They add an element of refinement to your layout, and work particularly well with flat design.

In a virtual landscape that focuses on simplicity and user experience, ghost buttons are a no-brainer. This example over at turing.io shows how ghost buttons allow the images on the page to step forward. The button is seamless and understated, letting users focus on the more important aspects of the page.

3) Grid design

Our society has virtually mastered the digital age. Kids are growing up using their mobile phones for everything, thousands of people shop online on a daily basis, and websites are the new go-to resource for research. Unfortunately, this has led to a decrease in patience. Web users don’t have the patience to wait around for a slow website. Furthermore, they don’t want to have to go rummaging through a site to find out about a brand. Browsers want to be able to understand a website quickly, from load speeds to aesthetics. As web developers know, one of the best ways to achieve this is through a visual narrative that’s intuitive and to the point.

Websites are being optimized for convenience in every way. Even layouts and features of a page are now upgraded to make browsing the web that much faster. One way designers are doing this is by incorporating grid design into their layouts. Grids are perfect for the modern day web browser who doesn’t stay on a page for long.

Grids add a sense of rhythm and movement to a design, but they also add proportion and balance using the rule of thirds. It looks good and moves the eye around the page naturally. This kind of design pulls viewers right from the start, so you make a good impression in those precious first few seconds. Grid designs convey a wealth of information quickly and in a way that’s easy to navigate.

This excellent example of grid design at The Touch Agency is also a fine example of how pages can be optimized for both load speeds and attention span. It’s easy to understand what’s happening the moment you arrive, and navigation is simple.

4) Infographics are fun with interaction

Infographics are taking over the way companies convey information to users. They’ve been a trend for a year or two now for one reason: they work. These images are aesthetically pleasing, easy to understand, and can communicate quite a bit of information. Instead of listing off a bunch of statistics in a page, it’s much more appealing to the user to see it all in an image. But infographics are evolving again.

In 2016, infographics will get a life of their own with interactivity. Moving through an infographic, users will find clickable items and small animations that let them interact with the data. This makes infographics more fun and allows more freedom with storytelling. Here’s a fantastic example of an interactive infographic portraying information about Eastern Tennessee. Infinite scrolling and small animations make you want to learn more.

5) Making a statement with the hero image

Hero images save the day by making a big, bold, aesthetically pleasing statement. Essentially, a hero image is just a large statement image as the headline of the page. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s the concept of the hero image. Usually, designers use a hero image above the fold and follow up with clickable items in a grid-like pattern. Of course, that’s just one common layout; opportunities are endless in the design world.

The key to hero design is to make your image really pack a punch. Because the image takes up the entirety of “above the fold” space, you only have the one chance to hook your visitors. The image has to be both good-looking and good at conveying your business message. Likewise, other elements on the page have to fit in with the overall theme. Contrary to popular belief, the hero image layout won’t slow load times, either. Data compression keeps that big image from taking up precious bandwidth. So don’t be afraid to make a bold statement with a big hero.

6) Showing off your photos

A lot of businesses want to showcase their portfolios or use images to convey their brand story. Using galleries and slideshows is exactly how web designers do just that. A lot of times, we see this design paired with the concept of the hero image: the page headline features a carousel of big bold images, and the “meat” of the website is below the fold. Slideshows are excellent for image-oriented businesses. They can be used for product photography, portfolios, or even to create a narrative for your business.

By combining the concept of a hero image with a gallery or showcase, you get ample opportunity to draw visitors in. The images that represent your brand are displayed first and foremost, so visitors don’t have to travel far (or at all) to discover your brand story. Readers will learn about your brand within the first few seconds of landing on your page. And that’s important in today’s fast paced world.

7) The Hamburger menu

The hamburger menu has been a source of debate recently. Some designers swear by it, but others loathe it. Many designers will tell you it’s counterintuitive and can be difficult for some users to find. Less discoverability means less time exploring a website, which is never good for business. On the other hand, the hamburger menu is a quick way to clean up your page and leave room for other content. Truly, this component depends on the design of your site. If it makes sense and the hamburger menu won’t clutter up the navigability of the site, go for it.

It’s become so mainstream now that saying people don’t recognize the hamburger menu button is like saying people don’t recognize McDonald’s golden arches. This website has a remarkable example of an unobtrusive hamburger menu that’s still noticeable enough to pick up right away.

Stephen Moyers is an online marketer, designer, avid tech-savvy blogger. He is associated with Los Angeles based SPINX Digital Agency. He loves to write about web design, development, online marketing, social media and much more. Apart from writing, he loves traveling & photography. Follow Stephen on Twitter & Google+. More articles by Stephen Moyers
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