Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/big-web-design-trends-for-2015/
When thinking about web design, you must consider the full spectrum of possibilities that the internet presents. Done boldly, designers can push the limits of human interaction and imagination on a global scale – as is often seen with edgier industries, such as creative agency websites.
In this article, we’ll boil down some of the most prominent web design trends emerging in 2015. It is here that we can find true innovation and new opportunities – a few of which may completely change our understanding of a “modern website”.
1. Make it big
Website via Born
“Make it big” seems to be the single most important principle of web design today. Yet for many people, it’s hardly acceptable that the homepage – specifically above the fold – consists of just a few words overlaid on an image or a video. Sometimes, even the navigation is removed or (at the very least) is hidden as a small icon.
The two flavors of this web design trend can be labeled as “Cinematic” and “Book Cover”. The first has been inspired by movies and TV ads, while the second enhances the classic concept of printed book and catalogue covers.
Book cover. Website via Void and Form.
The reasons for this trend are both visual and pragmatic. You’re able to give users maximum impact as soon as they land on your site and it’s easier to code, so it works well on mobiles and desktop computer monitors (the same layout remains unchanged despite the display device size).
Full screen images came into vogue last year (as we noted in our 2014 web design trends article), but with growing access to high quality images and speedier technology we’re seeing websites take these “Book Cover” layouts to the next level.
Inspired by movies and TV. Website via bellroy.
The “Cinematic” trend relies on fullscreen (or almost fullscreen) video with a few words and/or elements overlaid on top of it. We initially referenced this style in our article,”Web design trends for 2013,” when it was seen on a few agency websites.
Now the trend is picking up fast. Only last year Paypal updated its homepage with a fullscreen video background – a landmark move that has helped bring this concept into the mainstream.
2. The multimedia experience
Jack Daniel’s offers an impressive example of the modern “multimedia experience”
The multimedia concept is quite dated. The word itself has been so used and abused that it’s nearly lost its meaning. Nonetheless, armies of designers and programmers are constantly fighting to create increasingly engaging multimedia experiences.
A while back, Flash was the platform for these experiments. Presently it’s the HTML5 <canvas> element that will eventually allow you to create almost any visual effect on the website.
Website via The DNA project by j.viewz
Another noteworthy example of an interface built with HTML Canvas is community-driven DNA project by Brooklyn-based musician Jonathan Dagan (aka j.viewz). Opening with a highly visual background video, j.viewz tells us how he plans to build his new musical album through his personal experiments (which users can download) and other collaborators’ uploaded videos, music and feedback.
Website via Raise the River
Raise the River’s website is yet another fantastic example not only because of its apt visual metaphor, but also its presentation. The pace of animation and inability to scroll almost forces the user to take a breath and adjust to the page timeline.
While designing interfaces, we usually do everything to enable users. This website shows that disabling users for a certain amount of time may sometimes enable a better experience.
3. The Parallax effect mutations
Parallax has evolved into many different mutations that have one thing in common: designers use page scrolling or mouse movement to animate elements or properties of the page. If you look carefully, most of the websites showcased in this article use this logic. Here are some additional examples.
Scroll events and hand drawn animation
Website via Mint Design Company.
It’s easy to appreciate Mint Design Company’s creative use of an old CSS sprite technique. The result is an engaging and unique take on an otherwise straightforward company website.
Website via QUO+
The QUO+ headset page takes you on a wild, maze-like journey through their site with vertical and horizontal scrolling – along with an interesting section where you “scroll” through their product colors too.
4. Animated storybook
Website via Boldking
In this type of page, similar to the first example, an animation sequence starts when a user reaches a certain scroll position. Often, it is just a few elements that slide into the page or use a fade-in effect to appear.
The Boldking product page (above) uses lightweight SVG and Java Script to present a visual metaphor describing the way their product works. Not only is the idea and animation amazing, but equally notable is the fact that it was achieved within 1.5 MB total page weight. Sometimes a single JS library has this size. One of the animated sequences is even interactive.
Website via Colin and Dewi
Colin and Dewi’s wedding website is a simple yet effective way to keep the user focused while reading a story. You are presented with one fragment of the story at a time. To see the next part, you need to scroll to it.
It sounds like generic scroll functionality, but 3D CSS animation – as well as hiding and revealing text fragments – makes the story much more engaging.
Header and page parallax effect caused by mouse movement
Website via HábitatWeb
This effect is used to create the illusion of a 3-dimensional space and works well when fit into the visual narration of the page, such as Habitat Web (above) or Archéologie de la Grande Guerre.
When used tastefully, this effect can have impressive result – although we predict that it will probably not become too common. If it were to be widely popular, it could just as easily be perceived as cheesy and annoying.
5. Flat design
Website via Colin and Dewi
During the last three years, flat design has been hailed the “king” many times over. It’s still doing great and is going to stay for good – especially in smaller elements such as icons, menus and illustrations.
Not only do these elements look good (way better than those glossy web 2.0 icons covering nearly every website a few years ago), but they are easily scaleable and manageable, thanks to icon font technology. icomoon.io is an example of one online service allowing everyone to create their own icon fonts easily for free.
Lab 21 turns flat design into “origami design”.
It is worth noting, though, that flat design is not always so flat. Designers often incorporate subtle gradients, textures and photos to achieve the “wow” effect. In our opinion, the best part of flat design is not the flatness of the ink, but how it opens us up to creative visual metaphors.
Rather than imitating objects with skeuomorphic techniques (where a notepad icon looks like real life notepad made of paper and bound in leather), flat design tries to convey the idea of a notepad through a synthetic, catchy and fun visual that works well in varied sizes.
We predict that this trend will become more collage-like and mix with other visual styles, similar to the HábitatWeb website featured earlier in this article.
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