Standing out amidst a sea of web designs can be a big challenge. Standardization of grid layout and widespread adoption of reliable frameworks such as Bootstrap have culminated in a new, ubiquitous style of website. In fact, some have pointed out that all websites look the same.
As a reaction to this uniformity, many UX designers have made deliberate attempts to break the mold, creating an original web interface without compromising the all-powerful grid. Here are some great trends that are pushing the envelope:
Minimal, interaction-driven animation
Going beyond simple button animations, you’ll see subtle but resource-friendly animations. A good example is Onix, using monochromatic line art and scroll-takeover to create an immersive experience without a taxing load time.
Users know that screen time equals eye strain. Both Windows and Mac have introduced “Dark Mode” as a kinder inversion to the typically brighter reading formats. Websites have also begun offering dark palettes for the same reasons. See how 3dhubs uses a darker design.
Motion as design
Motion-as-design-element has been popular for a few years now, but even today, incorporating impactful video or animated GIF as a replacement for a typical image banner can impart narrative punch. The trick is to incorporate resource-light video loops versus the (typically hefty) five-minute video. Save those for Vimeo or Wistia. Diko uses motion as design on its home page effectively.
While sans serif fonts are still preferred for legible body text, using serif fonts on your website can add distinct elegance for headers and call-out text. For a good example, check out Engaged Cornell’s use of serif header font in tandem with sharp sans-serif copy to add personality to a minimal design.
Organic and surreal artwork
Over the past decade, designers adopted minimalist design standards to promote legibility and UX ease. This choice was made in part due to the image-heavy, sometimes Flash-driven websites of the early Aughts. Recently, however, many designers who wish to have a finely illustrative website and still be resourceful have adopted a more tactile approach. Some have a distinct style that mimics paper craft, collage or ink (and doesn’t tax bandwidth). For example, see Mailchimp’s latest rebrand and the illustration hub Humaans.com.
Have you noticed websites starting to look the same? What have you seen that helps to set some apart from others? Leave a comment below.