With each year that passes, the amount of data web content creators and designers are able to leverage from user testing, analytics and defined user personas gets increasingly impressive. Now, nearly every aspect of a site is in some way testable, and this drives many of the trends we see on the web. As a result, 2016 will see continued refinement of proven conventions that have become popular standards, along with some new things to look out for that are helping sites stand out from the crowd. Let’s take a look at what to expect in the world of web design over the next year.
- Uniformity of User Interface
Many new sites are adopting the same set of proven standards. Users are getting accustomed to the elements that have been introduced and made popular over the last several years, both by apps and sites on the web. Look to see a lot of uniformity in the placement and treatment of commonly used elements. Users know where to look for features like navigation, contact tabs, forms, text increase tools and phone numbers, as well as how to use features like expandable menus and accordions. People visiting your site who find what they expect to find, where they expect to find it, will keep conversions high, while lowering the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after having only briefly viewed a single page (a figure commonly referred to as the bounce rate).
That’s not to say that these standards work for all types of users in all scenarios. Knowing what people are looking for, and how deep they’re willing to dig to find content, will be key to your site’s success.
- Flat layout is still going strong
Minimalism in design has been keeping experiences on the web clean and well organized, and will continue to be a prominent style throughout the year. The clean lines, solid colors, full-width elements, and segmented content of flat layouts lend themselves well to a consistent visual across all responsive sizes, which only helps this styles popularity. This year, expect website creators to differentiate themselves from others by incorporating bold use of colors, vector illustration, large visual type, strategic micro copy, and subtle motion that reflects and defines the brand of their client.
- Increased interest found in interactions
As standards on sites continue to get more uniform, designers are taking advantage of opportunities to keep sites interesting and keep people (including seniors and ACIs) exploring by using animations that accompany interaction. Look for more unique and brief animation on websites, which will allow for added character in micro-interactions without adding a lot of strain to load time. You’ll see these accompanying hover events and on-click functionality on features like expandable content areas, “Like” and “Share” interactions, and short-loading animations.
- Subtle realism
Google initiated a trend in their app and web design, and has since created a standards guide that designers are quickly adopting; we’ll be seeing a lot more of this over the next year. The style called “Material Design” combines the standard element styles we’re used to seeing on the web, with elements of realism. By adding shadows and light similar to those we see in the natural world, designers are creating a depth and variation in elements that makes interacting with pages feel more natural and intuitive. You’ll also continue seeing more video being used in place of backgrounds and images to make experiences more personal and unique to the story clients want to convey. Using these trends to add warmth and realism to your online presence is highly likely to convert more senior living leads than your competitor’s cold and sterile site.
- Wider use of parallax and motion
There are several sites that use parallax design to tell a great story. It’s an exciting effect that many are anxious to take advantage of, but not every site lends itself to a fully immersive animation-rich experience. As designers are becoming more conscious of planning for interactivity and motion, we’ll be seeing smarter and more selective use of parallax elements. Expect to see simple but clever ways of viewing content because of this, along with more movement in header images and backgrounds, as opposed to full-page experiences… at least on very content-driven pages such as those that feature articles. This is a perfect trend to wow the senior and ACI audience, yet not bog down the experience with slow load times and confusing user interfaces.
Catch a common thread throughout all these points? Aside from any individual design trend, there is a growing awareness of the importance of user experience, and how to appropriately present information to YOUR users. Be as knowledgeable about your market as you can be, and work with your designer to bring a website to life that best caters to the experience seniors and ACIs are looking for.