If there is one thing that is making a big comeback for websites and interactive media in 2014, it is Simplicity. Finally! All these frustrations are related to over-complicated design, poorly executed user experience planning, or the omission of mobile compatibility. Luckily 2014 promises increasing trends towards simplicity in design, user experience, and social media. If you are planning your next website, or simply interested to know, here are a few of our favourite interactive media trends to be thankful for this year.
1. Responsive & Flat Design
Flat Design thrives
Luckily the trend in flat design is not synonymous with boring, inelegant design. Today’s website designers have made thoughtful moves to trim the fat, get to the point, and simplify the user interface by removing unnecessary design elements such as bevels, drop shadows, and background textures. Faster internet speeds have also allowed us to continue to increase the size of website imagery while simultaneously lengthening our pages as needed. The results are websites that are clean, image rich, and content light, with beautiful info-graphics, simplified navigation, and simple story telling.
Mobile accessibility and user experience planning are no longer an afterthought. The necessity of mobile-ready websites has not only become the norm, it’s becoming the rule. More and more information consumption is happening on handheld tablets and mobile devices. Depending on the country, statistics for mobile access to websites range anywhere from 16-60%. While that is a very wide range, it’s safe to say that an increasing number of consumers will have their first experience with your brand through a handheld or mobile device.
The question is no longer whether or not to provide a mobile ready website for your visitors but how best to do it. The answer is responsive, fluid grids and imagery, whereby a website is designed to scale and change with the user’s browser – including landscape and portrait variations as they happen. While this is nothing new, what’s trending is the planning and execution of a responsive flat design. Designers are spending more time starting with the mobile user experience and working their way up to the desktop.
3. Meaningful Social Media
Perhaps one of the best web design trends for 2014 is reining in the superfluous misuse of social media. Social media, as we all know by now, is an incredible platform for growing your brand and connecting with consumers. It is, however, a medium of the masses and users can be fickle. Social networks are by their own definition a means for people to connect and share with each other. What is meaningful is subjective to each user. So it should be no surprise that when too many companies, from your local dentist and plumber to the megalith consumer brands, begin to over-saturate the social communities with sales-driven messaging, users begin to tune them out or find other means of connecting with their peers.
Social media users want an authentic experience, and companies are finally figuring out that the content they are sharing must be meaningful to the communities they are connecting with. Just being there doesn’t count. So if you are planning on making your debut on the web this year, or planning to update your online presence, please keep these three things in mind: keep it simple, consider all your users (not just those stuck at their desks), and please keep your social presence meaningful.