2015 is set to be another year of significant changes for the Internet, particularly in the design arena. Here are the Green River Media predictions of what to expect over the next twelve months.
1. Mobile-first design as standard
Link-clicking on mobile devices is naturally error-prone. To combat this problem designers have started to develop "infinite scrolling" pages that dynamically load data as the reader moves down the page. This then gives the impression of a single, long page that contains all the information a reader needs. The use of large, finger-friendly buttons can then be used to jump up and down the page as required.
Why is this focus on mobile-first so important? Because in 2014, mobile web browsing overtook traditional desktop device usage for the first time ever, a trend that is expected to continue this year too.
2. Flat design
The adoption of "flat design" by Apple for both iOS and OS X Yosemite has effectively killed 3D elements overnight. Gone are bevelled edges, textures, drop shadows and other "skeuomorphic" flourishes, replaced by clean elements that render well on any device. These flattened elements will also be accompanied by splashes of bold colour to help distinguish clickable buttons and to emphasise specific words and messages.
As a result, you can expect more websites to make use of this new, "cleaner" approach in an effort to stay on trend.
3. More hi-res imagery
Analog dial-up connectivity is already dead and traditional ADSL is quickly being replaced by super-fast fibre optic cable connectivity. The resulting boost in bandwidth is freeing designers to make use of hi-res images because the large associated file size no longer significantly affects download speeds or site loading times.
Improvements in the display resolutions of mobile devices - like Apple's Retina-equipped iPads - means that consumers themselves are demanding higher quality pictures to improve their web browsing experience. Websites will become even more graphics-driven as a result.
4. HTML5 will hit mainstream
Although the standard was ratified some time ago, HTML5 adoption has been much slower than some analysts expected. The mobile-first design trend (see prediction 1 above) will help to accelerate uptake however as businesses look for the most cost-effective way to reach the widest possible audience with their message. An HTML5 that adheres to responsive design principles is viewable on virtually any platform, minimising design and development time, and therefore costs.
5. Words will still be important
The actual text on a website remains the most valuable tool for driving traffic. Search engines are still heavily reliant on crawling the written word, whilst only the very best content will be shared by the socially-savvy surfer. Developments in flexible fonts are set to revolutionise web design in 2015-boosting readability without compromising design
Expect to see written words get larger as page sizes and screen resolutions increase. Text plays a crucial role in the new flattened web experience (see prediction 2) so designers will be paying even greater attention to their choice of font, whilst copywriters will be forced to choose exactly the right short phrases to ensure a coherent page flow.