2018 will be all about rich experiences. Technologies such as virtual reality, machine learning, and voice user interfaces have been honed and are now mainstream. Expect to see clean, simple designs that make way for these immersive technologies. Read on as we take a deep-dive into what websites will look like in 2018!
In 2017, designers and developers began creating clean and simple websites for better mobile performance. Image-heavy websites are slow to load and frustrate mobile users. The number of mobile searches is going ever-upward, and mobile-first design for websites is considered a necessity, not just an option. Clean, minimalist designs that load quickly are trendy and desirable for several reasons: both for mobile users and desktop browsers who want quick-loading but engaging websites, and for their SEO value. This is why flat design has started to become popular and will continue to be trendy into 2018.
Flat design doesn’t mean that everything is reduced down to two dimensions – it’s all about minimalism and usability. It’s about getting rid of clutter and focusing on the important parts of your website. Utilizing bright colors, clean and crisp edges, and lots of open space, flat design is a refreshing change from distracting and slow-loading hi-res image-based designs.
In spite of being minimalist and valuing function over form, this doesn’t make flat design boring. Contrasting bright colors, illustration, simple imagery, and sans-serif fonts come together to provide excellent user experiences that are still eye-catching and engaging.
Since flat design doesn’t rely on pictures to be captivating, it doesn’t have large amounts of extra data to load when a user navigates to the page. This means two really great things for website owners: the first is that customers and clients, no matter if they’re browsing on mobile or otherwise, will have an enjoyable, quick-loading experience on the website. Secondly, these data-light, fast-loading designs make page speed and optimization much, much faster – which looks really desirable to Google, Bing, and pretty much every other search engine. Faster load times mean that your site is more likely to rank well, and with an engaging flat design users are apt to stay longer on your site – making them more likely to convert.
While website layouts will be clean and simple, you can expect to see web designers unleash their creativity on typography. As we’ve said before, quick-loading is great both for search rankings and for user experience. In a designing landscape filled with picture heavy designs, how is a designer supposed to creative innovative websites without relying on large, high-resolution images? When it comes to typography and 2018 web design trends, a word is worth a thousand pictures. Relying on typography to do the heavy lifting for design helps websites load more quickly.
To some, typography might not sound like a very interesting design element at all. Gothic or modern, serifed or sans, script or slab, what’s the difference, really? Each style of typography, despite what the words are actually saying, have the ability to transport your mind to specific associations, even subconsciously. Gothic fonts evoke images of Europe, history, churches, and antiquated language. Modern typography is present in most logos for the technology giants of today, and the mind associates it with fashionable, edgy brands. Script reminds people of fancy parties and femininity whereas slab fonts are associated with being bold and strong.
This is why companies will pay large sums of money to develop their own special fonts just for use in their branding. Large brands like Intel and AirBnB went through the trouble to develop their own fonts just to help define themselves and their brand. The Facebook “F” in their logo, while not a proprietary font, is highly iconic to their brand and their image, just as much as the interface, their color of blue, the liking function, or the blank profile photo image.
This is how powerful typography can be.
Taking the expressiveness of typography and then placing it on the backdrop of flat design can create powerful, alluring web designs that capture the viewer’s attention, keep it for longer, and provide better results than more image-heavy designs.
ANIMATED LOGOS AND SCROLL-TRIGGERED ANIMATION
Technology has advanced and web browsers handle animations much better than they have in the past. Animations used to be flashy and distracting – it’s only the truly young now who can’t remember the days of the flying toaster or hamster dance. However, 2018 will usher in a new era of subtle and useful animation. Expect to see scroll-triggered animations and animated logos.
Scroll-triggered animation has been on the rise lately and as it doesn’t require large amounts of data to download to the device or browser to look beautiful. Smooth transitions are easy to accomplish with this method and used creatively, scroll-triggered animations not only appear intriguing to the viewer but can help demonstrate your product or service. This kind of animation, when correctly thought out, coded, and applied to the design of your website, help your brand by making your company look more professional and modern than competitors.
If we bring in flat design again, keeping the clutter at bay but using the scroll feature as a function and not just form, scroll-triggered animations help define the design of the site. This is accomplished by having the smooth transitions that occur as the user scrolls actually form the blocks or sections of the site: learn more scrolls to “about us” which scrolls to “our services” which scrolls to “our process” and so on. A good designer and experienced developer can skillfully devise ways to keep each transition interesting to the viewer and relevant to your business.
Additionally and most importantly, scroll-triggered animations literally pull users to conversion points by incentivizing them to scroll to contact forms and other lead generating elements on the site.
Animated logos are also a subtle but powerful trend that can be extremely helpful for your business and your website. Dynamic visuals are more memorable to our minds and more easily comprehended, which is one of the reasons why video content is so popular and useful. The company logo is always the most memorable part of a company’s brand – or at least, it should be if your marketing department is doing its job. Joining this with This means that animated logos, even if they aren’t extremely flashy, help with brand awareness and help keep a company “top-of-mind.”
In addition to keeping your company memorable, animated logos help tell the story of your brand and your company – much more than a fixed normal logo can. They can help evoke emotions through imagery or transitioning colors, so if your product or service is more complicated, animations can actually help define your business more fully to your potential customers – imagery is important! Above all, your logo is one of the first images of your business that your customers come into contact with, so it needs to impart lots of positive emotions quickly and immediately. Animated logos are surprising and different from what most users have usually seen, making interacting with it pleasurable and fun. 2018 is definitely the year that animation made it’s comeback.
INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet of Things (IoT) uses technology to connect devices to the internet. Examples of IoT include smart light bulbs, such as the Phillips Hue and apps that help you track down your lost keys (how did they end up in the refrigerator AGAIN?). Websites will most definitely be using IoT technology. In 2018, expect to see IoT interfaces on websites that allow you to interact with smart devices. A smarter website means a more complex backend, but a professional web developer will get you connected and create an interface that’s simple to use.
VIRTUAL REALITY VIDEO
In 2017, we witnessed the rise of video on websites. It seemed like every website has a video intro, so we could see the faces behind the products and services we use every day. We also saw a rise in apps and services that make it easier to create videos. Websites in 2018 will take video to new, immersive places that once seemed like science fiction only a few short years ago. Expect to see websites tricked out with 360 videos, 360 modeling, video mapping, and interactive videos. Though these videos might seem costly and time-intensive, there are actually quite a few apps already available to make creating virtual reality videos more accessible. At TheeDesign, we’re ahead of the game. Just last year we created a website for ImagineOptix that featured an interactive 3D model and it won a 2017 Summit Creative Award.
CHATBOTS, AI, AND MACHINE LEARNING
Over the years, we’re increasingly communicating with bots. You probably spoke with one the last time you called your mobile service provider. At first, these bots seemed to make it more difficult to solve problems, but over the years, they’ve gotten smarter thanks to improved artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This is also why Facebook knows us so well. Facebook has learned what we look like and asks if we want to tag ourselves in a photo. It also uses location data and learned our reading habits so it knows exactly which ads, events, and information to show us in order to hit a “like” button.
In 2018, we can expect this technology to continue to be perfected and incorporated into company websites. Soon, web interactions will become seamless. Imagine a website that already knows exactly what your customer is looking for by simply analyzing their past interactions with your company. Customer service via the web is becoming faster and more efficient every day thanks to these new technologies. Don’t overlook them in your web design.
VOICE USER INTERFACE AND SEARCH
A voice user interface is sometimes referred to as natural language processing, Simply put, it refers to human interaction with a computer in the form of speech. Examples of voice user interfaces include Alexan, Siri, and Cortana. This technology actually dates back to the 1950s when the Audrey system was developed. The system only recognized digits from a single voice, so obviously we’ve come a long way! Voice user interfaces can now understand and act on complex voice commands. When combined with machine learning, these interfaces can predict your needs before you even complete the command.
Expect to see websites with their own voice user interfaces or integrating with existing ones. With voice search also on the rise, be sure your website content is conversational, as people tend to interact differently when they use voice commands. For example, a person looking for the nearest flower shop might type in “flower shop raleigh” into Google, but might ask Siri, “where is the nearest flower shop?”
Seamless interactions are another theme for 2018. Implementing chatbots and voice user interfaces allow customers to interact with your website without having to click or wait for a page to reload. Micro-interactions are another design element you can sprinkle throughout your website to improve communication. An example of this would be allowing a user to leave a simple review by scrolling over a number of stars instead of submitting a form.
It seems like every time you read your favorite news site, there’s a story about a malicious hacker, a serious data breach, or a malware attack. Security is at the forefront of our minds and it’s taking center stage when it comes to web design and development. Google has already taken steps to notify users of potentially harmful websites. As you think about your web design, be sure to consider the security of your customer’s information. Make sure your security certificate is updated on all pages. People will only interact with your website, download your content, and share their information if they trust you.
TAKING RISKS, REAPING REWARDS
Creating rich web experiences means using new technologies and introducing them to your clients. It can feel a bit risky, but the right web design team and the right tools are only a click away. The future is now and it’s a great opportunity to WOW your customers. Make 2018 the year you throw caution to the wind and finally create that 360 video of your awesome production facility or that 3D model of your newest drone. Give your customer the experience of a lifetime and you will have a customer for life.