If your website is in need of a little design refresh, you're not alone: web design trends and practices have changed quite a bit in the last few years, and website designed in 2012 might seem outdated today. As you consider the different options available to you as you rethink your website design, here are some of our favourite trends to keep in mind.
Trend #1: Flat design
Flat design has taken the user interface world by storm since iOS 7 came out in late 2013. The flat icons and the overall style of the design were a big change from iOS6:
As you can see, the shadows on the icons are gone. The bottom shelf was removed as well and replaced by a simple change in background style. Overall, the interface looks cleaner, with fewer distractions and a more readable style.
The flat style quickly took over full webpage design as well. Let's see how that looks on professional websites:
The Microsoft website is a great example. The simple white background with no decorations about the images and the menu bar make the whole look streamlined.
The Hipster Alphabet uses flat design to great effect. It's like going back to our childhood alphabet books, except with hipster words. I'm not sure how I feel about this website existing, but the design sure is cool.
Invoice Sherpa has both the flat design trend and the next one I'm going to discuss, background images.
Trend #2: Background photos and videos
Along with flat design, another trend that I've seen quite a bit around the web is the greyed-out background image or video with just a little bit of text over the top. Flat design principles make this type of background appealing since, by using the right colors, you can make any element pop right over the photo or video.
The PayPal website uses this design trend very effectively. Although what you see here is two guys playing music, the background is actually a looping video.
This gorgeous Italian furniture website has no doubt adopted this trend to feature its products. What you get is a looping gallery of photos of their best pieces with very little distractions. The navigation and social media happens on the edges.
Trend #3: Mega-Menus
As websites grow bigger, it's becoming harder and harder to summarize the architecture in a few menu items. Big retailer websites, large online magazines and coporate sites with many departments have all begun adopting the mega-menu.
Mega-menus need to be carefully planned and designed so they don't overwhelm users, but they offer a better alternative to clicking dozens of times just to get in the right section of the website. Let's see a few examples.
The Mashable mega-menu uses pictures along with article titles to help guide visitors to the content that interest them.
The new Ricki's website has vertical mega-menus instead of the old left sidebar.
The IBM website uses a mega-menu to help users navigate its very complex corporate structure.
These are only a few of the current website design trends. As screens get smaller and web users put a premium on clarity, high usability and responsive design, we'll probably see more streamlined, simple styles pop up on every website, from the smallest to the most complex.
Are there other trends you've noticed in website design lately? Which one is your favourite? Share your thoughts with us!