Latest Website Design Trends Small Businesses Should Know About (With Examples)

Functionality is the new black. These seven web design trends may help attract customers and boost sales.
Web Design Blackboard
Nowadays, there are multiple platforms that can make today's websites more engaging to customers. (Photo: Krasimira Nevenova/Shutterstock)

At some point, every small business owner faces the challenge of designing a website that not only represents the heart of their business but also attracts customers and boosts sales.

Pam Webber

According to Webber, it is time to “leave behind the early, gaudy days of the web.” Photo: Pam Webber

Today’s websites must function across multiple platforms and engage customers in novel ways. Pam Webber, CMO of 99designs, the world’s largest online graphic design marketplace, has advised thousands of small businesses hoping to use the power of the Internet to connect with their customers and grow their businesses.

She shared her seven web design trends for 2016:

Trend 1: Animation

Today’s animation doesn’t mean dancing cartoon characters or video clips on a loop. Rich animation now includes eye­-catching elements such as loading and hover design, navigation, menus, slideshows and videos.

“Leaving behind the early, gaudy days of the web, which was flush with flashing gifs, animated bars, buttons, icons and dancing hamsters, animation today means creating interactive, responsive actions that enhance storytelling and provide a rich user experience,” Webber said.

Examples of animation:

Trend 2: Material Design

Developed by Google, Material Design is a design language that utilizes the basics of print such as typography, grids, space, scale, color and use of imagery.

Material Design also incorporates responsive animations, transitions, padding, edge-­to-
edge imagery, large-­scale topography and intentional white space.

“Material Design uses shadow, movement and depth to offer a clean, modern aesthetic with a focus on optimizing user experience without too many bells and whistles,” Webber said

Example of material design:

Trend 3: Flat design

While Material Design offers one approach to the concept of minimalism, flat design remains the classic choice for lovers of clean lines and websites expected to be used mainly on mobile platforms.

“Flat design is often seen as a more realistic, authentic and comfortable digital look,” Webber said.

Based on the principles of white space, defined edges, vibrant colors and 2D, or flat illustrations, flat design offers a versatile style that frequently makes use of techniques like line iconography and long shadows.

Examples of flat design:

Trend 4: Split screen

Best used when you have two equally important areas to promote or you want to offer content alongside photos or media, split screen is a great new way to provide a fun and bold user experience.

“By allowing users to choose their content and experience, you can create a portal-­type experience that entices visitors to enter,” Webber said.

Examples of split screen:

Trend 5: Dropping the chrome

Alluding to the chrome bumpers and embellishments on classic cars, “chrome” refers to a website’s containers – the menus, headers, footers and borders – that encapsulate the core content. This can be distracting, and many companies are choosing to break free of the containers and create clean, edge­-to­-edge layouts with no borders, headers or footers.

Examples of dropping the chrome:‐

Trend 6: Forget the fold

“Above the fold” is newspaper-­speak for the top half of the front page of a newspaper. Since newspapers are often folded and placed in boxes and displays, the most compelling content goes above the fold to give them the best chance of grabbing a potential reader (and their wallet).

“Website design has long used the idea of a fold on the principle that scrolling was burdensome. But recently, full­-screen images and content greets a user and encourages scrolling to unveil additional, more in­-depth content,” Webber said.

Examples of forget the fold:

Trend 7: Full­-screen video

“Video can be a great way to grab visitors’ attention,” Webber said, “and it’s often even more effective than either visuals or text.”

Often used in luxury branding, film and television promotion and fashion merchandising, full­-screen video may be the way to showcase your unique product or to highlight the craftsmanship in your production process.

Examples of full-­screen video:

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