At the start of the new year some of our clients approach us and ask what new UX and design trends they need to be aware of. To help them out I try to keep my ear to the ground and talk with my colleagues. So here they are, the things I think are going to take off in digital this year.
Specifically in the form of single-page sites with parallax scrolling. The New York Times started this trend back in 2012 with its launch of Snowfall. It takes more traditional publishing techniques and brings them to life with the power of digital - using movement, interaction and effects like parallax scrolling to create one seamless experience. Over the last couple of years this already popular trend has come a long way, and I can see it becoming common practice as more companies embrace it as method to engage and delight their customers with their brand, products and services.
Split page layouts
With the above in mind, I think the use of split pages to tell two halves of a story or show different products will become much more popular. Line25 have collated some good examples if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. One of my favourites is still the National Geographic’s interactive documentary ‘Rendevous with Death’, which tells the lives of both President John F Kennedy and his accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, in parallel. It’s extremely powerful and digital storytelling at its best. Whilst this site went live back in 2013, it is still one of the finest examples I’ve seen and is one of the reasons why I think this trend will stand the test of time.
More recently, this method has been used by companies to showcase products and services, specifically those with two distinct offerings or audiences. Dropbox is one example of this. They’ve adopted the approach for their guides; splitting the site between their business and admin users. It’s a clear way of signposting to different audiences, and I think it works really well.
In 2014 leaders such as Google introduced more frequent use of hidden navigation, and the ‘hamburger‘ menu became ubiquitous for mobile sites. This year, I think we’ll start to see this become more widespread across larger screen designs. This is great for designers as it allows us to focus the attention on content without the noise of headers and footers. Newton Running is a good example of this approach. On their homepage, the design is all about the navigation, which enables users to get to the section they are interested in quickly and easily. From there, the navigation is minimal, it’s all about interacting with and experiencing the trainers.
In addition to minimal navigation, this site also adopts some of the other trends mentioned in this article, including a split design to signpost to men and ladies and parallax scrolling to tell their story.
Love or hate it, skeuomorphism is already starting to make a comeback but this time with a more refined flat design approach (so no more 3-dimensional bookshelves, Apple!). Designing for the much lauded Internet of things (IoT) will mean that we only start to see more UI elements that resemble everyday physical objects that are familiar to users. Some nice examples of this can be seen in this Awwwards UI inspiration article.
As the most successful tool at a marketers disposal, I think designers will start to adopt a more user-centred approach to the end-to-end design of emails. Consideration will be given to their role in the user journey and how they are part of the multi-channel experience. Designers will need to think about strategy, content and design – it’s no longer just an email. Perhaps with future releases of outlook (and other email clients) we’ll even get greater HTML and CSS support. One can dream…
I hope you find this useful! Please feel free to suggest some trends of your own in the comments.