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The Top 6 Website Design Trends of 2016

by  David Dwyer on  25/05/2016

The Minimalist Manifesto – Remove distractions and let your site shine

I've often shared the observation that 1 real month = 1 web year in terms of the pace of change in terms of User eXperience, Usability, Web Technologies and Devices.

With that in mind we put our own new advanced mobile responsive website live, (click to have a look) and are busy re-designing our own website to reflect the changing needs of our site visitors. 

This has led me to get a little bit nostalgic and look back at some of the earliest examples of websites. They lacked any real elegance; they were jam-packed with text and awful images. Fast-forward 20 years and there are still some sites that haven’t evolved.

There was also a time where sites were overdesigned. Sites that looked stunning, but failed to obey accepted usability guidelines or simply the bandwidth couldn't cope with the website, Boo.com being a great example, see case study here. Sites that need to explain how to navigate them have failed before they have begun.

Thankfully, the web design trends we’ve seen over the last two years have resulted in some stunning, yet simple websites.

6 Web Design Trends

Typography Just Got Bigger

Big, bold text, using a wider range of creative fonts is everywhere. Web typography has been getting more refined over the years, but now – everything is just that bit bigger.  Often used to create powerful, enlarged headlines, they make a strong statement on any web page.

This trend is particularly noticeable on modern home page design. It’s quite common to see large headline text over a stunning artistic photograph.

Pictures That Paint

Many a great web page has been killed by poor quality, cheap stock photography. Now, though, there is no such excuse. Tons of sites offer high quality, royalty free images. As more, and more amateur photographers emerge – many seem more than happy to share with the World.

There has never been a better time to grab stunning photographs to support your site.


It sometimes feels that designers are trying to demonstrate how clever they are by squeezing in as many ‘design touches’ as possible. Now, though – there is a movement. A minimal movement. Designers are banishing the extra images, the animations and the unnecessary embellishments in favour of a clean and simple design.

As much as we have convergence on mobile phones so too do web designers and developers take learnings from many disciplines to improve users online experience. Whether that learning be from Six Sigma, Lean (process improvement) and/or Blue  Ocean Thinking (‘Eliminate, Reduce, Improve and Create’) these principles all support a framework that enhances website usability.

For example -

  • Eliminate – Which design elements can be removed entirely from the site.
  • Reduce – Can the number of messages or size of elements be reduced?
  • Improve – Are there elements of the design that can be improved?
  • Create – Finally, we now have the space create, rather than load that change on top of the existing site.

Some of our favourite sites in recent years are incredibly simple. This approach helps push the content to the fore. We’re fans of minimalism. What could you lose from your current design?

Long, Long Pages

Speaking of minimalism – conventional wisdom, just five years ago, was to keep scrolling to a minimum. Add to that the ‘keep your important stuff’ above the fold mantra, and you had a World where scrolling was bad. How things have changed. Now the web is littered with long form pages that require a lot of scrolling.

There are obviously good and bad examples of this technique, but with the use of strong images, and parallax design, deep pages work well.  In fact, sites with deep pages are among the most attractive, and creative on the Internet at the moment. One word of caution, though – parallax design – needs to be designed. We’ve seen some truly atrocious examples in the last few months.

Flat Design

There has been a real shift to create sites that follow flat design principles. For years, the design community was mildly obsessed with the notion of creating the illusion of three dimensions. Drop shadow effects would be used liberally while clever layering techniques were deployed to play tricks on the eye. To be fair, some of the results were stunning. It appears that finally, designers don’t feel the need to prove themselves.

Following the minimalistic movements and thanks in part to Google’s Materials Design Language, it’s never been easier to create simple, flat designs that have huge impact.


Lastly, it’s not so much a trend, as an ongoing evolution. Responsive design is still growing in importance. In fact, if you don’t have a strategy for delivering your content to mobile devices you might as well quit now. I know that might sound controversial, but it happens to be true.

There are disagreements within the design community as how best to deliver responsive design, but everyone agrees that it’s essential for any modern website. There is no longer any patience from your mobile visitors. If your site doesn’t work ‘out-of-the-box’ on their device – they won’t hang about.

They’ll be moving onto the next site without even trying to ‘pinch and zoom’!

Future Trends

As sure as night follows day, we know new design trends will emerge over the next few years. Personally, we hope the trend for simplicity continues. Here are five of our favourite sites that showcase the current trends. It will be interesting in a few years to look back and see how far things have evolved.

Here are some sites that we've produced recently that follow each of these guidelines







P.S. Share your most visually appealing website with us by adding a comment. We’d love to see the designs that appeal to you.

Graphic Design, Inspire Web Services, The Evolving Web, Web Consultancy, Web Design
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