As a designer you need to communicate with your audience and to use the best tools to do so. Don’t just jump on “latest trend” bandwagon. Many of the best website designs we’ve seen have integrated a lot of the popular trends – responsive website design being the main game-changer , so that your website is accessible across all devices. Today, responsive website design is a given.
Entheos provides a roundup of some of the popular website design trends that continue to influence designers today.

Keep it simple with flat, clean design

The flat user interface is set apartby its simplicity and boldness – large, simple type, bright colors, clear navigation. Minimalist design, clean layouts, large, simple typography, tiling or modular blocks to organize content and white space are all given weight in flat design. Flat design translates well into mobile devices without losing its appeal.  Images stay light and web loading times are faster.  That translates into more web visitors for you!  Today’s web users are not willing to wait more than two seconds for a page to load.

 Read more and see examples: Flat User Interface as a Web Design Trend

Keep it organized with modular content blocks

Modular content blocks help to keep content simple, scannable, and visual.  Grid and section layouts allow the user to focus on the most important elements first and lead the user’s eye from one element to the other. Content blocks are also a part of menu design, in the megamenu trend that uses images, columns and gridsColor blocking, shapes, background video, megamenus, lazy load, parallax scrolling, animation and hover effects, all serve to give the user a reason to stay on the site and explore it more deeply. Modular content blocks help the designer stay flexible and provide emphasis in this day of responsive web design.

 Read more and see examples: Modular content blocks in web design

Keep it interactive with animation

Animations have become smoother and lighter on the web, thanks to JS animation, parallax and CSS3 animation that create all those cool transitions, animated backgrounds, and effects on content, text, graphics, icons, navigation links, pages that tilt, images that bounce, twirl, reveal, or work with draggable scroll to delight your visitors with  interactivity! 
JS animation makes a range of movements possible while keeping the website lightweight, unlike Flash.
Parallax scrolling using JavaScript and CSS techniques, creates an effect of 3-D depth with foreground images moving faster than background images. Scroll-activated animation and lazy animations of web elements attract the user but do not detract from the main content.  

 Read more and see examples of JavaScript based, CSS3 and HTML5 animation and effects in web design in Animation As A Website Design Trend

Think large images for maximum impact

Large images are trendycapture attention and lay the foundation for the text color and site background. A good picture with a short headline can quicklytelegraph a message toweb users who skim and scan content, and get them interested in browsing the site.

The hero image, the full-screen or full-width slider, the rotating gallery ,the parallax banner, the background video, the landing page, the single page website, the photo overlay on a page background,  the image merging into a page background – these some of the options web designers can exploit in using large images.
Thanks to CSS3, you can now have a perfect full-screen image or image backgroundat full100% responsive widthacross most major browser, which fills the entire page with a centered image and retains image proportions with no white space around and no unwanted scroll bar. Display your best images at full-screen size!

 Read more and see examples: Large Images Make Your Website Arrest Attention

Leave something to the imagination with blurred backgrounds

Blurred backgrounds have become popular on the web, riding on the trend to large images. Blurred backgrounds are characterized by soft colors and faded, unclear photo backgrounds. Page loading times tend to be faster as the image resolution in a blurred image does not have to be as high as an in-focus image. Text (or a sharp-focus foreground image) on top of a blurred image is more readable than text overlaid on a sharp or detailed image. The blurred background image does not distract attention from the main content.

Blurred backgrounds are used by a designer to:

  • Simplify content – eg communicate “many” without cluttering layout
  • Hint at the future (coming soon, work in progress)
  • Create mystery  (new product)
  • Create excitement
  • Keep background details indistinct so that the foreground image or text stands out
  • Provide a context for your product without giving clear specifics

 Read more and see examples: Blurred Backgrounds as a Web Design Trend

Arrest attention with full–screen video backgrounds

Today, technologies like HTML 5, CSS 3 and different JavaScript techniques make videos and animations smoother and easier to load.New browsers can seamlessly play video that can enhance a site’s design.  No longer is the web restricted by old browsers with slow-loading times and Flash movies and animations that took forever to load.
Video backgrounds arrestattention and can keep your site visitor interested longer in your site as video is a dynamicmedium. They can promote office tours, product launches, feature tours and demonstrations, show a workflow process in real life, present a portfolio, create a brand identity.

 Read more and see examples: Full-screen Video Background As A Website Design Trend

Capture interest – tell a story

From country folklore to presentations in the corporate boardroom, stories have always been a powerful mode of communication. So why not use storytelling make your website more engaging, memorable and fun? Storytelling websites seek to create an immersive experience, using multiple design elements, and some provide a choice of story paths, providing interactivity.  Multimedia storytelling uses design and media elements such as text, images, infographics, virtual tours, maps, slideshows and more. Subcompact publishing seeks to retain reader interest in a world of visual noise and competition from short tweets and capsule content, providing an overview of an article to whet the reader’s appetite to read the whole.

What do storytelling websites do best?

  • Storytelling websites can present facts in a gripping narrative.  They can usemultimedia elements such as long-form copy, photo galleries, infographics, audio and video, animation, video, audio, slideshows, personal profiles maps and parallax background effects with magazine-style editorial and a nav bar taking the reader to different parts of the story. The most famous example is the New York Times story article Snowfall.
  • Storytelling websites can build a brand
  •  Storytelling can communicate a complex processin a simple way.
  • Storytelling can connect people by sharing human experiences.
  • The demo is the story.
  • The company is the story.
 Read more and see examples: Storytelling Website Design – Great Way to Communicate

Evoke mood and imagination with muted pastels

Muted pastels provide a welcome contrast to bold, bright and neon colors that create a harsh and jarring look and can diminish the impact of site content.  They form neutral backgrounds that enhance photography, illustration and art.  They evoke moods and emotions, providing a backdrop that lifts your product centerstage.  They have a subtle, romantic and sophisticated look that makes them popular in retro website designs.    Creative and innovative people use pastel designs to showcase their work effectively in portfolio sites.  Pastel colors have a playful and childlike feel that makes them popular in websites for bakery, confectionery  and toy stores.
Muted pastels combine well with flat design, bold text, minimalismand clean layouts, illustrationparallax scrolling, handwritten textandretro designwith colorized photographs, handwritten fonts and visual embellishments.   Use muted pastels to create a distinctive look for your website while evoking positive emotions in your user.

 Read more and see examples: Muted Pastels – A Popular Web Design Trend

Use website design trends to serve your design purpose, rather than riding a trend just because it happens to be the next best thing.  Good design outlives short-term fads.  Communicating with your audience is the key to good design. 

Web Design Trends – Articles & Resources