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5 Web Design Trends for 2015

One of the best aspects of working on a passionate UX / Design team is the ease and willingness with which all of us share design news, trends, and tidbits with each other. In recent months, as our team has geared up for new and exciting design projects, I took a moment to jot down a handful of design trends that I'm expecting to make waves in 2015.

Trends 2015

Vertical Design

Vertical websites will continue to dominate the web as more and more consumers of web content arrive via smartphones, tablets, and even smart watches. This essentially means more web content will live in long vertical pages, instead of being split apart into smaller chunks. This approach simplifies the information architecture for a website and encourages a more story-like approach to the content of each page, as a reader is drawn further and further down the page with enticing writing, graphics, and typography.

Material Design

Material design is a modest rebellion against flat design, which has been dominating the web design world for the past three years or so. Material design imbues web pages with the properties of real-world materials to help users intuit how different elements will behave. For example, the addition of drop shadows and deliberate representation of 3D space are two things I feel we will see a lot of this year. The shift towards material design originated with Google. When Matías Duarte was plucked away from the Palm Pre team to work as Director of Android UX at Google, I knew to expect great things from the Android OS. I was a great admirer of Duarte’s work with the Palm Pre OS back in 2009. His material design principles and the thinking behind them are visible in Android’s Lollipop release.

Trends 2015

Atomic Design

Atomic design encourages the construction of discrete “atoms” that then go on to build “molecules” and “organisms.” Think of web pages as composed of small, individual elements used to create successively more complex content. (If you’ve ever played Minecraft, this will make a lot of sense.) Brad Frost first spoke about atomic design in 2013. Since then, the idea has been catching a lot of steam. Here at Forum One, we have been using Pattern Lab as a tool to more fully embrace the ideas behind atomic design. In many ways, Google’s material design language borrows a page from Frost’s atomic design language. In 2015, we will see more web projects embracing the construction of elements, and using those elements to build the website from the bottom-up, rather than concentrating on the finished, individual web pages from the top-down.

Trends 2015

Infographics & Data Visualization

Cause-based organizations are seeing an increased need to publish the vast, valuable data they generate online, and make it accessible to a broad set of audiences. Traditional methods such as large printed annual reports can be greatly augmented in their reach by taking advantage of the advantages of modern digital media platforms. Some savvy digital agencies have even started publishing their year-in-review reports as infographics. With the transition to digital media, and in view of how people interact with their smartphones, tablets, and other devices, that same data can now be explored in new, exciting, and engaging ways. Interactive infographics and data visualizations can give users the control to view the same information in whichever manner they choose, and then share the data across many different social media channels at once. In 2015, we know we’ll see some really amazing infographic and data visualization work. We are already seeing this happen in online journalism, and cause-based organizations are moving quickly to adapt.

Trends 2015

Responsive Design

Responsive design has come a long way since the term first emerged in 2010. Responsive design is a set of web design techniques that allow the same content to be loaded on any device, across any resolution, without the need to create separate mobile-optimized pages. For the user, this means that their web-browsing experience is tailored and optimized for whichever device they choose to use. The number of web-browsing devices has increased significantly since 2010. Screen resolutions vary widely, and the potential addition of new categories of devices such as smart watches will only make things more complicated. In order to effectively serve such a diverse market, websites need to display optimally across any device they encounter. If your site is not yet responsive in 2015, it’s time to modernize, as 60% of the web is now accessed via mobile devices. This number is only set to increase in the near future. Responsive design is the best way to ensure your content is reachable by the largest audience possible. 

Trends 2015