Web design trends are always changing; what you think works now may not work in the future.
This is because new technologies develop all the time, technologies that aim to make things easier for internet users. In aiming to remain competitive, web designers have to keep up with technology, and as a result, continuously improve on their designs, too.
A lot of things influence the latest web design trends. To take the pulse of the industry, we decided to ask web developers, web designers, UX/UI designers, small business owners, startup founders, SEO specialists, and many other experts what they think will be the hottest web design trends next year.
They answered the following questions:
- Where do you think website design is going?
- What are key trends to keep an eye on?
- What are some dos and don’ts?
- What’s hot in the industry right now?
Before we get into the top 25 website design trends for 2018, though, let’s first take a look at what MyMarketology Lab thinks with this video.
Here are the top web design trends to watch in 2018, according to 25 experts in the field.
As we head into 2018, I believe web designers will begin designing sites that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also search engine friendly. The following aspects are trends I believe will be implemented into the overall thought process when designing a new site.
Web designers will begin putting a significant amount of emphasis in usability, in making sure that the user interface is simple and easy to navigate. The easier you make it for the user to get where they want to go, the more likely they will have a good experience on your site.
They will also begin designing sites with SEO in mind. Given that a site is useless if it can’t be found, web designers must make sure that the website they are designing can be easily optimized and easily crawlable by search engine spiders.
Lastly, web designers will be making site speed a top priority. Everyone hates a slow loading site, so it is essential that your site’s load speed is quick and doesn’t keep the user waiting. A high-speed load time is a strong driver of a great user experience for your visitors.
— Matt Edstrom, Head of Marketing, BioClarity
In 2018, I expect we will see more video content incorporated in website design. Video is a great way to showcase products/services, add a human element to a company, and usually leads to higher conversions and engagement.
We’ve already seen video content growing in popularity on social media channels but it is definitely making its way over to website design, too. Videos can vary in length from a few seconds all the way up to hour-long seminars or workshop recordings.
With video, the sky is the limit!
— Charlotte O’Hara, Web Designer, Charlotte O’Hara
Front page video background
A video background rolling on the front page of a website is becoming more and more popular. A video helps convey a much broader message than an image and provides a great opportunity to tell customers what a brand is about.
This trend will remain at least through 2018, if not become the staple going forward.
More innovative sites are capturing visitors’ attention with a smart use of space and making content easier to read as compared to small pages clogged with content.
With the release of Google’s material.io design theories, more and more websites are utilizing white space and unifying theory to make pages readable and easy on the eyes.
Websites are going to be moving away from text and making a move toward interactive images. Click on a part of a product, and you get a description of that specific feature. Click on a trunk of a car and suddenly you get the car’s cargo volume and space information.
HTML seems to be moving away from scrollable pages into pages that just show the next section when you scroll. I call this hard scrolling.
You aren’t able to move up and down between two sections, a new section simply shows up when you scroll down, or up. Build in Amsterdam is a great example.
Many marketing firms are proponents of the purchase funnel, which recommends including a few Call to Action buttons directing customers to the next stage in their shopping process, as opposed to a variety of buttons to all of the available pages.
— Dmitri Tymos, Founder, Learnzilla
The year 2018 will bring about more website designers understanding that it’s not always about the trend but rather the conversion. Website designers will continue to grow into creating conversion-oriented websites rather than design-oriented websites.
So, the trend is: web design will be more focused on converting visitors into leads. Whatever a website is trying to accomplish, the trend will be to focus on that goal rather than design trends that don’t help accomplish goals.
— Nick Leffler, Owner, Exprance
The biggest trend that’s taking place is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP was created by Google to speed up mobile browsing and is reported to make sites load as much as six times faster.
It brings mobile development to its knees, giving designers a subset of tools to work with.
All the fancy libraries designers and developers have come to rely on are no longer accessible. It also curtails CSS by not allowing you to use external stylesheets along with other limitations.
Many HTML tags are replaced or supplemented with AMP specific ones including embedding objects and creating forms. AMP supports analytics and ads, but they are both curtailed. It is still a developing technology so third party support increases with time.
Officially, it doesn’t affect SEO but AMP-enabled pages should be faster than their counterparts, which does affect your rankings. Google could quickly turn on the afterburners in encouraging AMP adoption by making it explicitly a factor in search rankings.
Simply having a responsive website is no longer enough. Now you need an AMP-enabled site too. Tools and plugins are already becoming available to convert your site. The secret sauce of AMP is actually pretty underwhelming. Google simply caches your AMP-enabled site which allows it to be served faster.
My prediction is AMP will become popular for blogs and simple landing pages. If AMP becomes as widespread as Google intends, many sites will migrate to creating mobile apps to get the interactive flexibility they need.
AMP provides some interaction options but using browser based applications on mobile will become a thing of the past. And that’s the biggest design trend I expect to see in 2018.
— Stephen Gibson, Founder, Vyteo
Heading into 2018, we are bound to see a greater trend towards going mobile and making websites easier to navigate for on-the-go readers.
A few other design options that will be showing up are in-bound videos and full screen form websites that lead the reader directly to the link they need.
— Tyler Riddell, Vice President of Marketing, eSUB Construction Software
The Future of Web Design is the future of User Interface (UI), which is co-joined to the User Experience (UX) because their objective is the same: to facilitate the sales funnel.
This can best be achieved by increased collaboration at the onset between Designers/Developers, SEO Marketers, and Web Content Developers.
The SEOs’ need for more content on web pages to achieve higher rankings sometimes does not mesh well with maintaining clean design. One solution is for full-screen video, on home and category pages, to instantly capture users’ attention and involvement, possibly leading to higher conversions.
For those concerned that full-screen video will impact load times, cinemagraphs, which are video snippets, could be used to demonstrate 360° views on product pages.
Do: Consider UI that converts such as scroll-triggered animations. These enhance the user experience and prompt increased engagement (hopefully influence conversions, also). Simple to implement, these animations can be used to promote top-of-the-line and/or to herald new product releases, and have great visual, and sales funnel impact.
Don’t: Phase out the hamburger menu. Users dislike it as it can be sticky and cumbersome on larger websites. Instead, they prefer top and side navigation which require fewer clickthroughs to reach the information/products/services they are searching for.
What’s hot now is creating an upscale ambience and getting the message across instantly using screen-wide typography superimposed over high-resolution, full-screen images.
— Chris Eglevsky, Production and Design Department Manager, Active Web Group
I feel one of the most important web design trends of 2018 will be focusing more on conversion rate optimization when designing website.
Web designers will need to adopt a test-focused design mentality where designer need to embrace constant change and rely on A/B test results to make design based decisions.
— Khalid Saleh, CEO, Invesp
Designers have more room for creativity in layout and content and 2017 and onward have seen a real change in content placement: less boxy, unbalanced layouts use controlled chaos and less harmony in Typography/Photography and Interface, not perfectly aligned layouts, elements with different paddings or overlapping.
While interesting and playful, Unbalanced Design can interfere with the layout structure, making the browsing experience and access to information harder for users.
- Use imbalanced layouts as playful elements between well structured and aligned content
- Use overlapping elements only on big enough typography with good contrast and/or white space
- Use unbalanced layouts in heavy content pages
- Use it if your audience/target isn’t appropriate for this type of layouts
- Use it without at least some basic alignment. It should be consistent through the page
When it comes to minimalism, the use of white space is evolving.
Web designers use less details to drive the user’s eyes to specific areas. Little navigation dots, arrows, underscores or geometrical figures are getting popular in minimalistic design as they help add a subtle note as separators, balancers, or pointers to content/calls to action.
Clearly, mobile is having its impact here as well as loading time.
Although little details can help draw attention and a nice/subtle touch to the layout, they can also interfere with actual navigation elements and if they have no harmony with actual content. They can then be perceived as noise.
- Use them as pointer/guides
- Give them a purpose. Make that purpose consistent
- Use them on heavy content pages
- Use them randomly with no context/purpose
Other trends for 2018 include the use of large typography as part of the key visual. It is an interesting way to create a very strong contrast between headers and the rest of the content. For example: Benjamin Guedj.
The use of SVGs (scalable vector graphics) and animated vectors will also be on the rise. SVGs present web designers and developers with a lot of advantages over more traditional image formats like JPG, PNG, and GIF.
This means SVGs are resolution-independent, so they’ll look great on any screen, on any device type. No need to worry about making everything retina-ready. And that’s why they’re becoming more and more the Standard Digital format.
There will also be an improved design-to-development workflow. As design and prototyping tool gain maturity and intuitiveness, internal processes, QA, deliverable, and handoff are becoming more and more flawless and visual and facilitating a better communication.
— Steffen Ploeger, SEO Specialist, 9thCO
I personally believe that we are going to see websites become more and more interactive. One trend that I really see taking off in 2018 is contextual, scroll-triggered animations.
These animations aren’t going to be used to just add flair but rather to serve a purpose. These animations breathe life into a web design and when done correctly can really increase engagement and conversions.
— Anthony Kane, Sr. Conversion Optimization Strategist, 1SEO Digital Agency
The only thing that really matters to site visitors is the information on a website and how easy it is to navigate to the information you need.
Certainly, the more clean and professional it looks, the more credibility the site may have but the bells and whistles that so may think are important (e.g., carousels, sliders, auto-play audio/video) are just fluff to pump up the ego of the site owner and, more often than not, a negative experience for users.
The trend for 2018 will be the same as it was for 2017 — designing a fast and easy to use mobile version of a website.
Whether it is making your site responsive or having a dedicated site just for mobile phones, the growing number of people using phones as their main, and in some cases, sole website device, makes creating a mobile friendly environment more important now, and in the future, more important than anything you can do.
— Dave Hermansen, CEO, Store Coach
Definitely micro-interactions. While it’s certainly not a new trend, it’s been gaining in popularity from both a design and marketing perspective.
Micro-interactions can enhance your site’s overall UX by improving the visitor experience, making it easy for them to accomplish simple things (such as liking a post), and generally help increase your engagement.
— Sherry Holub, Creative Director, JVM Design
For sure, one of the stronger web design trends is a stronger focus on user experience. Besides making websites load lightning fast, micro-interactions which guide users towards their next actions will become more and more popular in 2018.
These are already an accepted mechanism within modern SaaS application UIs, so it’s only natural that they will now spill over into mainstream websites.
These typically including such stuff as throbbing buttons (so you know that something is clickable), interactive help on forms or otherwise, and micro usability tutorials to ensure users don’t get stuck and are guided towards intended actions.
Besides UX, these micro-interactions can also help to improve conversions.
— David Attard, Founder, CollectiveRay
One major trend we are expecting for 2018 is a focus on optimized website architecture. It is no longer enough for a website to look good; it should also be structured in a way that allows users and web crawlers to easily navigate the site.
Website design will be less about the design of individual pages and more about the structure and user experience of the domain as a whole.
One major part of this will revolve around content organization. Content will be formed by identifying main themes or topics and then writing about subtopics within each theme.
This type of organization not only helps build your authority on subject matter, but it also helps readers find what they are looking for.
— Chelsea Trautman, PR and Communications Specialist, Matrix Marketing Group
The year 2017 has proven to be a year of glittering advancements in the eCommerce scene, and in this age of instant gratification, consumers are all about the NOW.
They want their questions answered right away. They expect quality customer service right away. And of course, they want their products ASAP. They also want to shop the very instant inspiration hits them.
A few key features, functionalities, and processes that will help give your business the edge it needs to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of eCommerce include:
- Personalized Experience
- Sensory Search
- Simplicity for the Customer
- Mobile Commerce
- AI for the Back Office
- Digital Assistance, and
- Real-Time Customer Assistance.
— Madeline Familia, Founder, Creative Voices PR
Personally, I predict we’ll see a real rise in the use of cinemagraphs, especially in e-commerce.
Currently we see cinemagraphs used on websites to give a dynamic edge to static images and capture engagement. In 2018, I can see these being utilized more effectively to showcase products.
Not only are they smaller in size than videos, which is beneficial for page load time, but there is also evidence that they help increase conversions when used on product pages.
Thanks to technological advancements in smartphone cameras and apps, it’s now much easier to create great quality cinemagraphs yourself, without the need for professional equipment.
Haptics on responsive devices
The term ‘haptic’ refers to anything related to the sense of touch. Haptic technology is used to enhance a user’s experience as they operate an application. They have been part of electronic devices such as games consoles for a long time, and ever since, I have been eagerly anticipating their introduction to websites.
More recently, we’ve seen smartphone devices take haptic technology to a new level by including them subtly on their user interface designs. Introducing them to web design can increase engagement whilst adding depth and texture to a design.
— Robbie Shoker, Head of Design, Eastside Co
The year 2018 is going to be all about efficiency, speed, and performance. With the continuing trend towards users viewing the web on mobile devices and Google’s growing insistence on fast websites for its search rankings, we’re going to see a focus on quick-loading websites.
A lot of this will be done on the back end of websites — optimizations of code and of images in particular. But it will also manifest in the design of sites.
Less flash and more functionality is going to be the way forward, with UIs that make it near impossible for users (who are now less internet proficient than ever) to get confused.
Simple, sleek, and swift is the design of 2018.
— Jordan Harling, Digital Strategist, Roman Blinds Direct
For me, the future of design has arrived: Motion Design. It will be the biggest trend of 2018, but be careful to limit its use.
Even though this method of design has existed for decades, in the past 10 years it has experienced exponential growth thanks to the digital revolution.
Motion design is, in other words, the art of giving life to your graphics through movement.
The idea is that you can create a design that responds immediately to the user’s actions. The motion should seem natural, in the same way that things move around you in real life.
Here is an example with a simple web / app password.
An example of this is AlfredService. Upon entering their website you can play with it and experiment with its functionality as you scroll down. Although it is very attractive, the design is extremely overloaded. And in the end, this creates problems for it to be understood quickly and efficiently by the end client.
In fact, I believe that motion design is by itself adding a new level of depth to interactive design, which was always about the art of connecting the dots and telling stories that allow the users to use our products and achieve their goals.
Click to see an example of a progress / loading bar.
The difference is that before there was no motion and for the user the dots were difficult to connect visually. What motion is providing is the possibility of communicating even better, which makes it easier, and in a more fluid way, for the user to understand your work.
Here an example of a simple submit button and complete task.
Additionally, you can use motion design in videos that explain to your users the products or services that you offer. An excellent example of this is by Lettuce App.
I recommend that you keep your animations to a minimal level. Use them only when they have significant value, because they can be a cause of distraction for your users, ending up in lower conversions, when in reality you are seeking just the opposite.
— Cristian Rennella, Design Director, oMelhorTrato.com
Just like technology, website design is constantly evolving. Phrases like “that’s so last year” can be heard regularly in the studio.
For 2018, we are looking towards creating complete seamless experiences between desktop and mobile with a customized information display based on personal preferences, user history, location and style.
Also, with the explosion of virtual reality, we see web design shifting to integrate more VR while the traditional navigation area detaches itself from the top bar.
— Yvette Perullo, Lead Designer, Bartlett Interactive
As mobile phones are now the primary device used for browsing the web, we can expect to see no shortage of mobile-first design.
In particular, the use of “cards.” Think Pinterest and other websites which utilize these smaller organizational blocks of content. Cards adapt to responsive design easily and their simplicity appeals to many users.
Trust and authenticity will continue to be an important aspect of web design/development in 2018. Website visitors want to ensure that their personal information is kept private and secure.
An SSL certificate allows for a secure connection from web server to browser. Having a secure site is also favorable in the eyes of Google and can potentially increase your rankings.
While stock photography isn’t likely to disappear completely anytime soon, we can expect to see a stronger focus on professional photography. More and more companies are turning to professional photographers to depict their businesses and employees in a more personal light.
Similarly, full-width videos are also likely to become more prevalent.
Other trends we may see:
- Persistent/Sticky menus that scroll from the bottom up instead of the top.
- Hamburger menus on desktop sites in lieu of traditional navigation bars.
- Full-screen forms.
— Jason Martino, Lead Web Developer, ePage City
Security is an ongoing issue and HTTPS has become a must. Previously it was only used by secure sites (like banks) but it is starting to become popular with regular websites.
Not only is this security great for protecting your customer’s data but Google is now also using it as a ranking factor. So in terms of protecting your customers and improving your SEO, HTTPS is a must for 2018.
Having a clean looking website is already a trend and this will continue to increase into 2018. Users are sick of seeing unwanted pop-ups and flashy images trying to get them to click or provide email addresses.
Having a clean website will look good and it also increases the loading speed which further improves the customer experience as well as helping with your SEO.
— David Dietrich, Director, Fair Angle
A-symmetrical layouts will be the trend in 2018.
I believe we’ll continue to see more and more layouts break away from the typical large hero on top followed by chunky horizontal sections.
As flexbox has finally become widely supported by browsers and users demand more editorial styles, we’ll soon see the biggest swap to more staggered and a-symmetrical layouts happening in 2018.
This means more scroll-worthy designs and a further removal from the “above the fold” terminology that’s fading out of our design dialect.
Also, with the popularity of personalization over the past two years, 2018 will be the year of finding new ways to engage users in a way that will provide info back to businesses so that they can continue to personalize the online experience.
I believe many who take up this trend will look to AI to assist them in this process so data collection and response won’t be a manual one.
— Ariana Kamar, Web designer/Digital Strategist, The Design Executive
True empathy will come more into the mainstream. Rather than just trying to create an experience that just says it has the user in mind, more time will be spent to truly understand the user and their needs.
There will be more attention as well to the rouge users who use the product slightly differently to the norm.
Emergence of AR
Apple has brought our more apps and technology to support this. It’s already been done by other companies too, so Augmented Reality is now becoming more prominent and more feasible for developers.
There will be continuous growth in strategic and personalized content.
With the rising demand for articles and text-based literature, the need to help the user find what they are looking for or even discover will become more and more prominent.
There will be more use of animation and cinematography on sites.
While not being too heavy and slow, the use of motion to convey the brand’s message will become increasingly more common.
Motion will also be used to increase engagement and conversion by drawing attention to critical points of the page and push towards key conversion points.
We are seeing more app-type behavior coming from the web, like push notifications and onboarding on websites.
More agencies are now doing Product Design Sprints which help clients find a solution to their problem a lot quicker and pain-free.
Digital specialists discuss potential ideas to find the right solution, create a prototype and test it with real users within a week.
As not every company wants to spend significant amounts of money and time on full product development, PDS is a great way of finding out whether the product will work.
— Dan Kelly, UX Designer, Degree 53
Web design is forever pushing the limits thanks to new ways of thinking and advances in technology and you don’t just have to work on creating websites in the back end to be able to see this.
Thanks to a boom in blog culture, we are seeing people steering clear of the 4D images that once dominated the web and we are beginning to see people showcased more in imagery.
We are also seeing transformations in popular layouts with brands like Nike and Vice adopting the card layout which was once mainly popular in blogs.
We are beginning to see more websites which break away from the grid, thanks to new front end builders such as Divi allowing you to shun the limitations of the old symmetric and static layouts.
People are also thinking more about how users engage with the elements on their sites, whether it’s preferring to purchase items from another human being or how an element entering a page may make them want to interact with it.
Keep your eyes peeled for the era of the video and cleverly thought out element animation. However, make sure you are considering the impacts it has on your site speed and UI as an animation is useless if it makes your site unusable.
— Robyn Strafford, UX & Web Designer, BowlerHat
The key macro trend in website design is simplicity.
With the overwhelming nature of our digital world, effective design now relies on simplicity, negative space, and a conscious effort by the designer to pare content down to the smallest, bite-sized nuggets of information.
The design goal is “calm and alluring.” Viewers will be pulled in, and grateful.
More specifically, we will see increasingly subtle and functional approaches to animation in front end design. Sites with too many bells and whistles can start out entertaining — but soon become irritating and arduous to navigate.
In the larger picture, smart website design will be less and less about the design itself, and more and more about the content.
Designers and content managers are devoting greater emphasis, and a greater share of budget, to acquiring, creating or curating information, visuals, videos, etc.. that are genuine, captivating, on brand, and memorable.
— Luke Rayson, Digital Art Director, The Republik
There you go — 25 designers, start-up founders, digital strategists, and other experts have weighed in on what they think the top web design trends will be in 2018.
From microinteractions, to videos, cinemagraphs, and the use of cards, white space, and virtual/augmented reality, the consensus seems to be that the top web design trends will focus on the user, on their experience and on converting leads to sales.
How about you? What do you think will the top web design trends will be for 2018?