If you’ve scrolled through apps, searched menus or swapped out colors on animated items before sending them to your shopping cart, then you’ve interacted with some of the ten best web design concepts experienced by early 21st century digital users. Here they are, in list form for your convenience:
1. Empty State
This design concept has increased in importance and innovation. Most designers know that an app, or a site, should never dead-end. Users must be redirected or educated in an entertaining manner to either return to the main page or to learn how to utilize the app. Whether the empty state contains an image and a directive, or an explanation and an option, users must feel engaged and not abandoned.
For inspiration on designing your own empty space, emptystat.es is a great source.
Folks over at The Next Web noted that interactive sites would see a rise in popularity throughout 2015. Their definition of interaction involved storytelling and narrative devices coupled with user interaction and graphics.
See Seattle’s Space Needle site for an example of merging a graphic journey with an informative story.
Also mentioned by The Next Web is the rise of minimalism. Minimalist design has the practical function of speed but also a riveting aesthetic function. Click here for an example.
The site is spacious and incredibly functional. Users know exactly what they need from the site or app and exactly how to fulfill their needs. For a large portion of users, ease and accessibility are high priority.
4. Parallax Scrolling
Users are becoming more sophisticated and their expectations are increasing. Parallax scrolling is familiar for anyone who has ever gamed. Incorporating this three-dimensional design into retail sites has become a way to capture user attention.
However, The Boat best showcases how dramatic this design can be for both sophisticated and non-sophisticated users.
5. Long Page
The Boat site also features single page long scrolling, another design trend that was in use throughout the past year. Technology has finally caught up with user preferences and mobile devices have become highly scrollable. This limits the need for short pages with lots of links.
Bounty Beverage proves how exciting a long scroll can be.
6. Customized Photography
High quality photos incorporated into the overall site design is a way to personalize the experience and connect with users. One site that received attention from Hubspot is Four Rivers Smokehouse. Warning: This will make you very hungry. Unless you are vegan, in which case maybe you shouldn’t look.
As you can see from several of the sites above, animation is also an essential design element. Why have a static customized photo when you can animate it?
This trend is everywhere, from the most utilitarian sites, like Paypal, to far more exciting web pages like this.
National Geographic’s Eat: The Story of Food won the 2015 Webby for web site animation and graphics. Not only does the site feature animation but it is also features a long-scrolling, narrative/journey based web design.
When a website is interactive it invites the user to engage with it. When a website is responsive, the site responds to the user’s needs. This is most often seen in ecommerce and retail sites. A user/customer visits the site with a goal in mind. They want to purchase an item and need to quickly find the tools they need to make the purchase with as little frustration as possible.
Responsive design responds to the device the user is holding and optimizes that user’s experience. Menus fold out from margins making mobile purchases easy. Accordian menus cascade options for the user with limited screen space. These same design features are found on desktops. However, sometimes it can become a bit over done. Here’s an example.
9. Best of Everything Design
The site listed above combined pretty much everything: fold-out menus, animation, interaction, story-telling but it was missing minimalism.
More and more frequently designers are showing off all of their skills but this kind of overkill deadens the user experience. An example of minimal, nuanced design goes to Dropbox. If only those sketches had a bit of movement.
10. AMP HTML
Google’s latest open-source initiative is AMP HTML, a language used to create fast-responding mobile web pages. By eliminating bloat, AMP HTML provides mobile users with quick downloads and aims to include users with limited internet access.
Pinterest has begun employing AMP HTML and TechCrunch reports that the New York Times and other established sites will follow suit.