2016 was an interesting year for designers. There were conferences with a focus on education, colors that made a comeback and new trends and techniques emerging as must-haves for designs.Let’s take a look at the 2016 major design events.
The Year of the Solo Designer
2016 was the year of the solo designer. At the Bay Area Maker Faire in May in San Mateo California, about 150,000 attendees took a look at do-it-yourself projects and new technologies for solo designers.
One of the bits of info that came out of this conference is how quickly laser cutter prices are falling. This makes them affordable for solo designers. In addition, the main thing that came out of the technology showcased this year is that designers can do their work faster and better than ever before.
2016 saw some new web practices as well. Some of these techniques work well and others not so well, depending on how they are executed:
- Hamburger menu – The hamburger menu has pretty much become a staple for mobile responsive websites. Most users know to click on this icon to be directed to drop-down categories. Some web designers, though, make the mistake of hiding everything under that hamburger menu. While this can create an uncluttered look on the home page, it also can dissuade users from navigating to other pages on your site
- Front page carousels – Carousels allow you to add in multiple images and create a custom look to your site. They seem to be popping up more and more in designs, too. However, carousels can be bad for SEO and can make sites all look similar in design. Carousels also do not always translate well on mobile devices, either.
- Popups – More and more sites seem to be adding popups to entice visitors to sign up for a newsletter or other feature. The problem is that these can slow down load times and force site visitors to wait and click outside the popup to get it to go away. Some visitors will likely get frustrated or annoyed and simply leave your site.
Trends come and go from month to month and year to year, so be aware of what works well and what will simply frustrate your site visitors.
Best New Feature
One of the best new features to add into your website designs is web push notifications. By utilizing your Push API and Notification API, you can engage better with your site users even after they close your website.
Users simply opt in and are engaged when you update your site with content they care about. It is a custom experience that allows you to connect with your readers on a personal level.
Best Web Design of the Year
Phil Casabon’s site puts the focus on typeface and simplicity. The site received over seven out of 10 in every category by a panel of jurors who rated the site and put it in the number one slot.
Upon arriving at the site, there is an animated background effect that makes the user stop and take notice of the unique elements on the page. This morphs into a fuzzy skiing video. What follows is a simple design with Casabon’s personal story about his skiing career. The site puts the focus on skiing while also presenting a unique look and feel. It makes the user want to hang around and check out more of what the site has to offer. You can learn a lot from this site about adding your own personality to your designs.
Web designers can learn a lot about what is in and what isn’t. Study paint color trends and trends in fashion. These are the colors of each season and when used on a website, those colors can make the site look modern and fresh.
Soft colors seemed to be particularly popular in 2016. For example, sea glass green, a very pale green, was a prominent choice. This could easily be added into a background for a website with contrasting colors for navigation and accents.
Looking Forward to 2017
As designers learn from the trends of 2016, it is time to start looking forward to 2017. We’ll need to consider what website users might most want in a design. Some trends that are certain to continue in popularity include responsiveness and simplicity. It will be interesting to see if other trends continue. What changes will Google comes up with in the new year? Designers should keep their eyes open.
No matter what changes there are, though, one thing is for certain: The basic elements of good design will always stay in style, and we should be grateful for the 2016 major design events.