20 Web Design Trends for 2017

Every year, the web industry goes through an evolution cycle to stay engaging and inspiring. It’s time to look ahead and predict how web design will evolve over the next twelve months.

From functionality to typography and color, immersive storytelling to virtual reality and AI-powered chatbots, 2017 will be a year of new ideas and fresh visual concepts to explore. There is no doubt that we will see many of the last year’s trends continue to shape and influence the web industry. Some of those designs are already starting to appear, providing visual inspiration to get off to the right start. Let’s explore the design innovations that can take your website to a whole different level in 2017.

20. No Free Stock Photos

Stock photography reduces the trust factor and it’s a poor design, even worse for business. Nowadays, thousands of authorized photography websites have made finding beautiful high definition pictures easier than ever. This year, there will be a huge decline of cheesy stock photography in web design.

According to VWO blog, the image featuring real people and real case-scenario has better chances at converting visitors, rather than a polished, posed look.

19. Intuitive Forms

Forms are an integral part of any site which aims to interact with their users. They are used everywhere – for subscription, feedback, registration, checkout, booking, and more. A user-friendly, intuitive form can help businesses to streamline their process, collect data more efficiently in a much better way. Poorly designed forms, on the other hand, could ruin the entire user experience, which could further affect conversion rates.

This year, you will see the natural language form that utilizes everyday language and aim to gather information from users in a more engaging and fun way. Typeform is the best-known example (in our knowledge) of this trend.

18. Cinematography and GIFs

Our brain loves visual information and moving images have all the right attributes to capture users’ attention. A WiFi marketing platform Turnstyle has done A/B testing experiment to compare the effectiveness of a cinemagraph versus still image on their homepage. They have found 20 percent uplift in new visitor conversions, demonstrating the potential of cinematography. It is expected that visually-driven company will experiment with this trend in coming months.

17. Fluid Design and Brighter Color

The mobile-first and fluid designs will become a new standard. However, many expected issues could crop up at every possible width that makes fluid design an enormously challenging and time intensive process. We will see an increasing trend of adoption of smart solution like Material Kit Pro that will be utilized to alleviate the optimization and fluidity headaches.

Trends like minimalism and brutalism came to the fore last year. Designers have now sought ways to infuse more personality into design that still worked within those stripped-down aesthetics. We expect to see bold, bright colors and gradients making a comeback. However, it mostly depends on target audience – do they respond well to bright and bold colors, or they more drawn to a toned down palette.

16. Immersive Storytelling

Looks like this trend has come to stay. Immersive storytelling integrated with high-quality pictures, videos, audio, maps, social media and other component to draw users’ attention on a more personal, engaging level, will continue this year also.
The hybrid graphic novel is probably the best example out there, integrated with parallax and intense sound effects.

15. Bold, Creative Typography

Last year, we saw some creative uses of typography, and 2017 is likely to continue to push the boundaries of what designers can do. Fonts will not only take up more space on screen, but also combined with intense color, and you will see innovative typefaces than the usual web fonts you are used to.

Nurture shows the whole new era of typography – they have combined font and video to create a stylish website.

14. The Fight Against Fake News

The 2016 United States presidential campaign showed us how the web can influence sociopolitical realities. Misinformation is easy, fast and cheap to produce. Often it is more profitable and capable of impacting public perception.

A lot of web designers, product designers and developers worldwide have jumped at the opportunity to fix this issue. For example, Google and Facebook have stated that they will limit the flow of ad revenue to fake news, and a group of university students has developed a Chrome plugin named FiB to distinguish fake and real news right inside the Facebook UI.

No doubt, there will be a lot of fake news this year, and with any attempt to control the flow of information, there is always the possibility of control being exercised in a wrong way. However, it is up to us to stop the creating and spread the wrong information.

13. Geometric Shapes and Patterns

Geometric shapes have made their way into website through different ways. Whether it is use of circle around pictures, images that are geometric heavy, or the overall design of the website, they all rely on the use of line and patterns. We expect to see more of these types of designs throughout 2017.

12. Hand-Drawn Elements

A beautiful element created by hand often looks better than the computer generated graphics. These elements include icons, fonts, buttons, and other modules that bring a nice unique touch to the webpage. Sites have never been a medium that most would associate with drawing out, but the trend is shifting towards something new.

11. New Navigation Patterns

It is not necessary that navigation should have to be glued to the top of the design. As long as the placement is making it easier to find and understand elements, it is acceptable. Nowadays, it is trendy to move the menu. Instead of complicated and long navigations, more and more sites are simplifying their navigation by cutting down it to four or five items.

10. Even More Parallax

The parallax scrolling effect was introduced a couple of years ago. Since then, designers have only gotten clever with mouse based movements. Many websites have integrated parallax effects that move up/down, and movements that capture a more layered design. The more real the movement looks on the website, the more users will want it. In coming months, the trend will continue with more impressive and fancier parallax effects.

9. Modern Retro

Retro with a modern twist is going to be a new thing. The vintage typography, pixel art or 80s and 90s inspired imagery is coming back again with a vengeance. It brings together the excellent, funky style of retro design and sleek sophistication of modern look. The outcome is absolutely innovative. The interactive resume of Robby Leonardi is probably the best example available.

8. Microinteractions

Microinteractions are the subtle, but powerful way to interact with a site. They are single, specific moments when a user is interacting with your webpage. It usually involves click animations, hovers, scrolling effects, etc.

Built to be as intuitive and effortless as possible, micro-interactions are a great way to encourage visitors to engage with a site. In 2017, it is expected that microinteraction will be used to increase simplicity in digital experiences.

7. Age-Responsive Design

The new trend “age-responsive” has nothing to do with screen size. It’s all about adaptability. Adapting to the personal needs of the user is a much bigger challenge. Targeting visitors by demographic markers is common in online advertising and websites will start doing the same.

For instance, a website could adapt to user ages by changing navigation menus depending on the competency of the user, adapting font sizes and spacing to increase legibility for those in need, and altering color schemes for better contrast.

6. Personalized Icons

Custom graphics is all set to become the web currency of 2017. There are many sites that already use custom icons for easy navigation, to emphasize call-to-action, and to break up large areas of text, with the unique illustrations helping to set brands apart. In 2017, personalized icons are likely to feature far more prominently across the board.

5. Location and Context Awareness

The main advantage of mobile devices is they travel with users and have ability to understand the location and context around them. This year, you will see the websites taking advantage of these mobile capabilities in a much broader way, making themselves more responsive to the environment around them.

By the end of 2017, you will see the websites using combination of Geo Location APIMedia Stream API (streaming videos from device camera), Mozilla’s WebVR library A-frame, to serve you augmented version of reality, without installing any application.

4. Grid Layout and Card Design

Card design layouts are first popularized by Pinterest and they have become more ubiquitous. Their flexibility and simplicity make it more appealing. Cards are a versatile way to divide pieces of information into sections and display them in manageable chunks, which could adapt different sizes according to the device and screen resolution.

HtmlBoutique is a great example of the modern grid layout. They have created a unique composition of case studies and given an exciting and bold look to their portfolio.

3. Machine Learning

Developers adapting the machine learning have a huge advantage. You’ll know how to code to maximize utility, you’ll be able to write your own novel functions to potentially add thousands of value, and parallel processing will be breeze for you.

In 2017, we are going to see the rise of machine learning in everyday applications. It has the ability to dramatically increase the stickiness of your product. It will also drive a dynamic real-time web. Many eCommerce websites (like Amazon) use machine learning to display the front webpage. It’s oddly personalized. Yet, we have come to expect this level of smart personalization.

Read: 16 Useful Machine Learning Cheat Sheets

The technology not only helps developers to decide what products you see, but also the entire component of user’s experience as several test layouts to discover the presentations that inspire most user action.

2. Conversational UI and AI-Powered Chatbots

Conversational interface and chatbots took off in 2016. The AI powered bots may get even more realistic and complex this year, empowering organizations to automate communication and sales. Tools like Letsclap enables online businesses to connect with their customers via messaging applications like FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp, providing customized customer support.

Many companies are interested in conversational interfaces – the reason is they are truly cross-platform and they work well on all devices, including desktops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and even devices without screen like Amazon Echo. They can integrate with services like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or run in a text message window. Moreover, Conversational interface means that every single function/feature in the app no longer needs to be represented by an icon, or buried in a menu.

Previous Trends: 

a) 15 Web Design Trends of 2015
b) 10 Web Design Trends 2014 + Infographics

1. Virtual Reality and 360 Degree View

Virtual Reality is not something new. It has been with us since the last couple of years, and it can now be experienced in the browser. The User Interface challenges with Virtual reality are more complex and easier to understand as compared to conversational interfaces.

An impressive example of how Virtual reality and 360 degree view could be incorporated into web design is Peugoet 208’s promo campaign that utilizes the best technologies to produce a breathtaking, interactive experience to showcase a new product.

Read: 15 Terrible Web Design Trends You Must Avoid

There are many products in the market that are expanding our imagination of how the technology can be adapted for daily use. Google DaydreamMicrosoft HoloLensPlayStation and HTC VR are a few of them. With so many different practical uses of these gadgets, we are finally seeing the VR blending into the web design space.

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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  • Christian Wick says:

    “The parallax scrolling effect was introduced a couple of years ago.”? Eh…? It actually first started to appear way back in late 2010!

  • As I read down I get a feeling that the write just picked up a lot of words. I don’t thing this article is being very trust worthy in terms of what will be the trend of 2017. Some of those 20 points are just made up “wishes” at best.

  • Regex SEO says:

    Finally, someone is talking about machine learning and VR in web design! Thank you, someone must have started this conversation