Websites of the future will not be known for their design but for the experience they offer users. A website that looks good won’t suffice anymore – it needs to make the user feel good, delighted, amused and influenced to act. In short, web design of the future will be pivoted on what captivates the people who visit websites, engage with the content and make decisions.
Every web design feature that is trending in 2017 will focus on improving that user experience. The challenge, going forward, will be the syncing of traditionally disparate elements like web development, content, design aesthetics and marketing to achieve a superlative user experience.
Here are 5 web design trends that are clearly headed towards refining the online experience in 2017.
1) Chat Bots Powered by AI
2016 saw the emergence of what’s dubbed today, ‘conversational user interface’. Businesses around the world have noticed that messaging platforms are now pulling ahead of app downloads and social networks. It’s driven the integration of chatbots that are powered by artificial intelligence. Their job is not adding to the aesthetics of web design, but rather influencing how companies communicate directly with their customers and boosting sales.
Customized customer support, aimed at humanizing businesses, will become the norm. More and more businesses will begin using messaging platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger to chat directly with customers and solve problems immediately. Tools like Letsclap, Chatfuel and Botsify have really simplified the integration of chatbots into web design. This year promises to add more depth and ingenuity to the conversational interface of websites.
A web design trend from 2016 that is striding confidently into this year is the introduction of micro-interactions. It’s little, human-like responses to what the user is doing on the website. For instance, if someone is filling out a form, micro interactions could be comments on the information they are entering.
These “comments” can range between being funny, nice, functional, informational or, directional. It can make the whole experience delightful and fun for the user by using language that is natural and believable. Today, forms are widely used by almost all kinds of businesses and when powered by intuitive built-in conditionals, they can save a lot of time and make the user experience more fluid.
Search engines like Google have already shown the power of allowing users to search for information in the same way they would ask questions in real life. Micro interactions like images, personalized data, comments, and hidden functionality, are particularly useful in converting traditionally “boring” websites. Businesses like banks, healthcare and airlines can become more appealing to users this way.
3) VR and the 360º Video
Virtual Reality (VR) and 360º videos are all set to take the Internet by storm in the coming years. There was a lot of exciting news about VR in 2016 with many industry giants like Google, Microsoft, HTC and Playstation entering the field. Touted to have many practical applications in everyday life, these two new video forms draw heavily from Google Earth’s concept – they are still photographs stitched together in a series.
While VR is at the moment restricted to digital environments, the 360º video allows users to look around themselves in real time. Perfectly suited for vlogging and creating virtual tours, the 360º video is a tad better at connecting with users and has more immediate use than VR. With most companies lacking the resources, anyway, to construct digitally rendered environments, the 360º video has an edge over VR today. However, with both forms in their infancy, it’s a space the online world will be watching closely.
4) Deeply Engaging Storytelling
Businesses across the board are interested in storytelling: It’s a web design trend that’s going to be around for a long time. It’s content, the meat, draped beautifully around the bone of the Internet through interactive design elements. One of the best ways to grab user attention, immersive storytelling will jump off the page when it joins hands with visually striking interactive elements.
Web designers are experimenting with novel ways in which they can get the user to identify and engage with the visual stories they are trying to deliver. Motivating users with rewards (big or small) for actions completed; adding interactive elements to common user actions such as clicking or scrolling; making the user a character in the story; and, leaving little bits of secondary information to be discovered by users around the interface are ways you can add depth to the story being told.
5) Design that Flows Between Devices
Unified user experience across a range of screen sizes may not be a new trend, but it’s one that’s moving ahead on designer’s to-do lists. Responsiveness of online content- be it be text, images, graphics or videos – between all the devices a user might own is of prime importance now. For such seamless integration, designs with fluidity will be in demand and become the industry standard.
However, ensuring fluidity of all design elements across all sizes is an uphill and time-consuming task, to say the least. User Interface Optimization kits, like King UI, offered by Bootstrap and Material Kit Pro, offered by Material Design will allow designers to concentrate on design and functionality aspects and forget about optimization.
Other web design trends one can expect to see in 2017 are cinemagraphs that fall between a static image and a full blown video; unique brand-specific illustrations that aid recall; design layouts where text and graphic elements like images overlap or get placed in a seemingly random fashion; bold typography coupled with minimalistic backgrounds for maximum impact; stock photography that‘s believable and emotionally appealing to users; and the ever-useful card design and grid layouts that come in handy where information is abundant.
The Internet is constantly evolving – what might be in today might be replaced by something completely new or by something that the world had long forgotten. It’s a dynamic space where redesign and rebranding efforts are the norm and not the exceptions. Find what your website needs here.