As a new player in the complex world of web design, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the newest trends in the industry. Whether you’re planning to enroll in design courses, you’re in the midst of acquiring a design degree or you’re attempting to learn the ropes on your own, getting a handle on the latest and greatest techniques and technologies will help you outshine your competition in the field.
The Internet is filled with blogs and tutorials highlighting cutting edge web design trends. But if you’re a rookie, the advanced terminology and technical jargon will likely make your head spin. So for those just getting their feet wet in the industry—this article is just for you! We enlisted a few web design gurus to predict four of the hottest web design trends for 2014.
We also asked them to help us break down each of these trends into bite-sized bits to help you understand exactly what each of these concepts entail and why they’re important for up-and-coming designers to know. You’ll also find some practical examples of each trend along with a few resources to help you learn more.
1. Responsive design
Responsive design became a popular concept for web designers in 2013. But unlike MySpace or Nintendo, this is a tech trend that likely won’t go out of style any time soon. Responsive design is the future, according to David Werth, CEO of Florida-based Ideas Design.
Responsive design means that a website is programmed to sniff out the device on which the user is viewing a site. The website then automatically adjusts its size, layout and navigation for optimal viewing, eliminating the need to build separate websites for each device, Werth explains.
One in every five people in the world owns a smartphone and one in every 17 owns a tablet, according to a study by Business Insider. With consumers accessing sites on various devices, organizations are much better off designing one responsive site rather than multiple versions. Werth claims it’s essential for web design rookies to understand this concept in order to be successful in the field.
“For 90% of websites being made, the days of having a separate mobile version of your site are dead,” Werth says. He adds that there are plenty of tools now to make it easy for new designers to adopt this trend.
To learn more about responsive design:
- The Importance of Responsive Design, via Graphic Design Junction
- How to Get Started with Responsive Web Design, via Tech Republic
- The 8 Biggest Responsive Web Design Problems (and how to avoid them), via Creative Bloq
Examples of responsive web design:
HINT: To see these responsive websites in action, use your mouse to grab the right edge of the browser and drag it to the left. You’ll see how it automatically adjusts to the parameters of the window. Can you imagine how clean the website would look on your smartphone or tablet!
2. Flat design
The origins of flat design can be tracked as far back as the 1920’s, but it really became a buzzword in the industry with the unveiling of Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system in September 2013.
Flat design is built around the idea that less is more. These websites are designed to look modern, simple and clean cut, avoiding excessive gradients and drop shadows. This has become the “hot design aesthetic”, says Stephen Gruenholz, product manager at Oakland-based FoundHere.com.
Gruenholz anticipates that the fast-paced web design industry will likely adopt a new trend a few years down the road, but it’s still important for newcomers to understand the fundamentals of flat design. He feels it’s essential for designers to be able to continually adapt to the fluctuations in the field.
To learn more about flat design:
- Principles of Flat Design, via Designmodo
- The Ultimate Guide to Flat Design, via Web Designer Depot
- Getting Started with Flat UI Design, via Sitepoint
Examples of flat web design:
HINT: When looking at these flat design examples, notice how simple and clean each site looks. With minimal content and bright colors, your eye immediately knows where to look.
3. Infinite scrolling
This is another trend that is driven by the increased use of mobile devices and is also referred to as “single page websites.” The idea is to condense multiple pages on a website into a single, extended page of content. When viewing on a smartphone or tablet, it’s easier to simply continue scrolling rather than clicking on various buttons.
Not all web designers are sold on the idea of infinite scrolling, but Jeff Kear, owner of Denver-based Planning Pod, is an advocate of the trend. He says it saves users time and allows them to access information more efficiently.
Kear feels clicking through pages can be cumbersome and time consuming for users. Long scrolling sites also reduce clutter, he says. Companies are forced to be more selective in their content in order to consolidate their messages onto a single page. This leaves the user with only the vital information, essentially providing more clarity.
To learn more about infinite scrolling:
- How to Create Infinite Scrolling on Your Website, via Bloom Web Design
- Infinite Scrolling Best Practices, via UX Movement
- To Infinite Scroll or Not to Infinite Scroll, via Design Shack
Examples of infinite scrolling:
HINT: As you examine these examples, it’s clear that even though you’re scrolling through a single page, each section of content still stands alone. This makes it easy for the user to decipher which information they need, allowing them to stop scrolling as soon as they find it.
4. Video in place of text
This trend is pretty self-explanatory—users tend to prefer video over text. “Everyone seems to have less of an attention span for consuming content nowadays,” says Michael Riley, founder of Philadelphia-based Simplpost.
Large blocks of text are overwhelming and consumers are apt to skip over them, Riley says. Instead, clicking a play button allows them to sit back and enjoy a full multimedia experience. He believes it allows you to communicate a message more effectively.
While video will never fully replace text on a website, it’s a great way to add variety to a website’s content. “It almost seems like a requirement for any successful project to have some element of video content included,” Riley says.
To learn more about video in place of text:
- Video in Web Design, via Web Design Tuts+
- The Future of Video in Web Design, via Smashing Magazine
- Top 10 Ways to Embed Video into a Web Page, via Onextrapixel
Examples of video in place of text:
HINT: Notice how the videos and animations immediately grab your attention and make these websites more interesting. Also, can you pinpoint any other trends featured in these examples?
Don't fall behind …
Now that you’ve been introduced to four of the hottest web design trends for 2014, take it upon yourself to learn more about these concepts. Mastering the latest techniques and technologies is one way to make a statement as soon as you get your foot in the door.
You’re curiosity and eagerness to learn more about industry innovations already makes you a great candidate for web design. The field is constantly evolving, which means web design trends will come and go. One factor that will never change is the importance of remaining on the cutting edge of design developments.
Looking for other ways to stay on top of the latest news in the industry? Check out these expert tips for staying up-to-date on the latest web design trends and follow some of the top web design blogs of 2014!