What’s ahead for web design in 2016?

Published:  January 13, 2016


Visual communication is more important than ever to our personal and professional lives.

Design driven touch points are at our fingertips, in our homes and on our bodies. They’re happening in context and in real-time. Everyone will have an opinion about design in 2016.

But what if you’re a professional? What trends can you expect to see, and to drive through your work?

Less for more

Clutter free, flat design still reigns. It’s a noisy world and minimal, clean experiences remain essential to help tell a story. But simple doesn’t mean bare. Twitter is toying with long form tweets (10,000 characters!), long reads are regaining popularity and big data visualisations are luring people into a rabbit hole of engagement. Designers need to juggle content that is platform agnostic and multi-dimensional. How can you graft simple layers onto a more sophisticated onion?

Designing for real-time

In 2015 there was another surge of tools to create live content, like Periscope and Meerkat. Consumers are now accustomed to turning on a tap to recieve content in the moment, and design will keep rising to the challenge.

Websites and destinations that serve as curation points receiving a pipeline of real-time content will also proliferate. Designers will have to evolve ways to create easy to use, seamless experiences that add to the real-time experience. Meanwhile publishers will continue to take older formats and repurpose them into new channels, such as the Wall Street Journal on SnapChat’s Discover. Designers will drive this storytelling.

Vectors & illustrations

Expect even more vector-oriented design, animation and retina-ready graphical elements in web design this year. Illustration will also creep into more and more design elements, adding a personal, handmade feel that counters the ultra-sleek designs of recent years. This trend is all about authenticity and originality.


Image: Vector design from Envato Market

Animation everywhere

Animation is set to become a core designer skill set. More and more websites are using subtle animation and micro-interactions to give contextual cues through motion. We’ll see more customisation around elements like loading screens, icons and calls to action.

As with the pull to the illustrative, this trend is about helping add a personal touch that captures attention in non-intrusive way.

Material design love

Design leaders like Spotify are driving the adoption of Google’s design language, and it seems to be sticking. Material designs more closely mimic offline design traits – they interact, they overlap realistically, and they have gradients that offer depth and dimensionality.


Image: Material design example from Envato Market

Death of the app?

The death of the individual app has been heralded, with research from ComScore suggesting that 65 per cent of people aren’t downloading multiple apps anymore. More of us get to our designed destination through search or social than any other pathway.

In 2016, stand alone container apps will keep struggling for traction, while developers and designers within established ecosystems (like Apple TV) will continue to experiment with what sticks.

Going modular

Designers are moving beyond holistic planning for an entire site, to instead designing individual components, including search and navigation. Approaching these as separate components means they can move between devices and contexts, and offer their owners more flexibility around changing audience needs.

Getting political

With the U.S. presidential election and the Australian Federal election both due later in 2016, you can bet candidate websites, logos and colour schemes will be part of the punditry (Hillary Clinton’s big H has already received scrutiny).


Image: hillaryclinton.com

Expect lots of unpacking of web design as an extension of personal branding. What does your design palate say about you?

About Envato
Envato is the world’s leading marketplace for creative assets and creative people. What will you build with us in 2016?

Learn more at www.envato.com.

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