Ever since the very first website was published back in 1991, web development practices have evolved from text-and-hyperlink-only web pages to a modern blend of images, audio, video, and intelligence. With the birth of Web 2.0, websites served more than just information – they began serving experiences – making selling almost a secondary feature. Inching towards the closing of this decade, we have seen a complete transformation of the technological landscape. Mobile devices took over the world by storm and the introduction of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence broadened our possibilities.
The degree of creative freedom that each new technological advancement provides to web designers and developers is like a breath of fresh air when there’s no limit to imagination. We have witnessed the designs maturing into a sophisticated and liberal flow of fonts, illustrations, color schemes with lesser attention towards grids and symmetry. The cutting-edge competition in both business and technology demands companies stay at the top of the game, forcing websites to become smarter. Few of the trends we saw in 2018 were artificial intelligence, chatbots, voice search, and responsive pages. Here are 6 upcoming trends to look out for which will broadly dominate the outcomes in 2019.
- PARALLAX EFFECT
Parallax scroll or Single page scrolling websites are really simple and fast with just one page displaying all information in sequential order. Even though people used to shy away from page-less websites due to the limitations it imposes on implementing SEO techniques, these sites are now favored by both businesses and search engines as they download pretty fast on mobile devices even with low internet speed and the design is uncluttered for easy navigation.
Single page sites offer a better experience despite having less of everything that a multi-page website would have. Limited sections and a uni-directional flow prevent customers from getting overwhelmed and often lead to quicker decision making and higher conversions. It’s a favorite among small to medium scale businesses and organizations who use websites to maintain an online presence. While page less design won’t replace the hierarchical multi-page websites, it is sure that we will get to see much more of them.
- TYPOGRAPHY AND ILLUSTRATIONS
Typography in 2019 is going to be bigger than ever. We are expecting to see more creative use of fonts and sizes along as it fulfills the functional requirements of the design. Typography and illustrations in websites now serve as an extension of the branding strategy with more brands coming up with their custom fonts. The demand for illustrators and calligraphers is on an all-time high in the tech arena as brands want to stand out with custom fonts, hand-drawn logos, and illustrations that speak to the user.
The rule of thumb remains the same – use a limited number of fonts or you’ll drive the reader away. But as both designers and brands crave expressive freedom, many other rules are being broken. Decorative and flamboyant fonts are teamed up with edgy and clean ones to deliver a statement which words cannot convey alone. Headings and callouts are being exploited as grounds of experimentation while readability of longer content is preserved with sans serifs. Stock photographs are being replaced by personalized illustration to add class to the brand image.
- ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES
Understanding AMP and successfully optimizing your web pages to have them recognized as accelerated mobile pages can make your website load four times faster on 10 times less data consumption as compared to a non-AMP optimized page. AMP optimized pages have a median load time of 0.7 seconds, enough to blink your eyes twice. AMP is a Google open source projects aiming to provide ‘a sensational user experience’ on mobile devices by consuming lesser data.
A web page that takes too long to load is, basically, useless. Users close tabs which do not load fast and click on new links all within 3 seconds. You don’t want to be publishing quality content which might never reach the consumers especially if you are a news or text-based website making its revenue off of advertising. Simply speaking, Google promotes AMP optimized pages as they appear faster in search results.
Try it for yourself – open Google search on your smartphone to search for something and notice that certain result cards are marked with a small lightning icon which stands for AMP. This could be your webpage once you have cast the AMP spell on your website.
- PUSH NOTIFICATIONS
Web push notifications look just like the notifications you receive on your smartphone from Facebook App, WhatsApp, or any gaming app, except that you don’t necessarily have to have the apps in your phone. Push notifications teamed up with Progressive Web Apps are the perfect solution to cater to users with low internet connectivity and low storage space or even the ones who might have visited your website just once.
Push notifications are an advertising medium in disguise as they are immune to ad-blockers and effectively get your message across. Push notifications are sent only after the user allows them hence, it is less likely to count as spam. You do not want to miss this opportunity of increasing traffic and converting wish lists to placed orders especially with the given competition in e-commerce.
- PROGRESSIVE WEB APPS
Web development is undergoing a transformation with the advent of Progressive Web Apps (PWA). The easiest PWA to think of is the browser version of Twitter which is widely accessible as an app, as a desktop website, and as a mobile browser version too, with constant features and user experience across platforms. Twitter Lite, the PWA by world’s most loved microblogging platform, saw a decreased bounce rate by 20% and increased tweets by 75%.
Unlike Twitter, most PWA exists in the browser version only, not demanding a download at all while consuming much less data than regular apps.
Progressive Web apps are hailed as a solution to several issues companies face with Android or iOS apps. A PWA’s versatility gives the makers access to a larger audience base while also saving them the trouble of developing and maintaining separate apps for Android, iOS and other operating systems. These apps are free from the limitations imposed on them by the Play Store and App Store giving more creative freedom to companies. Most startups in the travel, hospitality and food industry have relied on progressive web apps for a long time but they work better on desktop browsers. E-commerce giants like Amazon, Flipkart, and Alibaba are listed as the top PWA’s amongst all. The latest to adapt to this new trend are news sites and magazines like Forbes, Washington Post, Flipboard with Forbes reporting a faster load time of 2.5 seconds than the previous 6.5 seconds with the earlier version.
- MOTION UI DESIGN
Motion UI infuses storytelling into a website with interactive elements like text, illustrations, shapes, photos, videos and more. With contrast to static websites or even many of the dynamic websites, motion UI on a web page can guide a user through the website in the way you intend to, allowing more opportunities for lead conversion. The elements across the page shift themselves to draw attention to the important parts of your content as users try and skim through the page. 2019 will be dedicated to experimenting with Motion UI to find new ways of dealing with the suffering attention span of internet users.
Design and usability no longer sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. Our technological sensibilities are maturing into a desire for uncluttered, sharp, and entertaining visuals which govern the web development practices of today. It is highly imperative to research the options presented by these trends and indicators and to re-visit these to stay at the top of your game. We have our eyes open for the next big trends in technology. Stay tuned!