What will be the main trends and most exciting developments for web design over the next year?
Greater use of animation
The old school Flash intro has died a death but is slowly being resurrected in the form of HTML5 animated movies. Gone are the days when designers created pointless animations of a logo in order to impress their clients. I think, however, that the intelligent use of animation to tell a story has a big role to play over the coming year.
I've seen some great examples recently of well scripted, thoughtful animations which have a real purpose. When done well, animation can truly enhance a website and convey a message in a more effective way than standard scrolling banners or static images.
We will see a greater adoption of SVG animations which are vector based so load quickly and do not pixelate on high resolution screens. At SOZO, we are embracing this technology and using it a lot in our newer websites.
A growing divide between templated and bespoke websites
The DIY website builders and web design template world has continued to grow and improve. For some clients with a small budget, these can be a good start to online marketing at a very low cost.
DIY web builders will inevitably always have considerable limitations. Clients are beginning to realise that to create a truly outstanding website which doesn't look like everyone else's, they need to go down the bespoke route.
I think in the coming year both the DIY and bespoke approach to web design will continue to grow but the bespoke design agencies will move further away from the templated ones in order to differentiate themselves further.
One-click purchase on mobiles
With the onset of Apple Pay and other one-click purchase options, the use of mobile devices to shop online is going to increase dramatically.
In order to capitalise on this, clients and web design agencies will have to test their buying processes on mobile phones more thoroughly and place a much greater focus on designing user interfaces for smaller screens.
Better ways of showing products on ecommerce sites
For the past decade, most ecommerce sites have relied on a few static images alongside a product description in small text. Even the likes of Amazon have not evolved from this standard convention.
This is a far cry from the experience of actually seeing a product in a physical shop.
There are much more interesting and interactive ways of showing products online. Videos, 360 degree photos and animations all help to better inform the customer. Next year, however, may see the advent of 3D rendered interactive images which allow the user to see inside a product and view it in much greater detail than a standard 2D photo. This approach uses technology typically used in Hollywood animated movies, but will soon be feasible for the web.
CRO - Conversion rate optimisation
Rather than developing a completely new website every few years I think there will be a greater focus on improving the conversion rates of existing websites. The A/B testing facilities are becoming ever more sophisticated so it's possible to test and refine every element of a web page.
It is surprising how seemingly small tweaks to a web page's design or buying process can have considerable impact on your conversion rate. For example, simply changing the size and colour of a button can gain you more sales.
Test, test and test again!
In today's multi-channel world with endless numbers of browsers, mobile devices and platforms, it is almost impossible to guarantee the performance of a website for every single user. All you can do is test as much as humanly possible across this multitude of combinations.
People often associate testing with finding bugs. However, equally important is useability testing to ensure that every type of internet user can use your website in the way it is intended.
Continued growth of video
Video online has grown massively over the course of this year and is set to continue growing at pace over the years to come. Cisco predicts that 69% of all internet traffic will be video by 2017.
We welcome this development as video is often a great way to explain a product or service and makes it easy for the user to consume the information.
People are finally realising the importance of well written copy on their websites. For too long copy has been an after thought or simply given to SEO consultants to stuff keywords into!
Writing copy for websites is very different to writing for print. Clients are finally accepting that people are not prepared to read reams and reams of text online. As a result, copy on websites will become even more succinct which will place greater importance on the quality of copy over the quantity.
What are your thoughts and predictions for the future of web design?