Top Web Design Trends for 2014 (Hint: It’s All About UX)

uxwebdesignWe’re only halfway through January, but web design trends for 2014 are already emerging. As important as it is to keep up with design trends, we aren’t going to brush up on what rotating image feature is going to pave it’s way to the top this year (really, there are only so many Javascript trends we can talk about). This year, we predict that it’s going to be all about user experience features. As designers, we’re most interested in the user experience because a good UX experience is the difference between a bad, good, and great website.

So, what trends are we loving in 2014 UX design? We’re focused on simplicity, storytelling, and responsive design.

Simple UX Design
If you are familiar with design, simplicity comes up fairly often. And more often than not “less is more” is a mantra designers live by. We’re not trying to tell you that your website needs to be simple or outright plain, but rather that it needs to follow the best usability practices to make it navigable and easy to use.

From a business standpoint, it’s always good to remember that the website is there to serve your customers. They are the true user of your site and that so you need to accommodate their needs, and not yours. Simple UX design means avoiding clutter and stuffing your site with information that your users don’t need. Not everything needs to be on your homepage, or even on your website.

If you use ecommerce to sell a product or service online, simplify your content to eye-catching headlines and short and precise copy with clear call to actions. Even if you don’t sell your product/service online, clear call to actions and easy to navigate content is crucial for grabbing and holding on to your user. Content stuffing is so 1999. Now, it’s all about white space and minimalism.

Tell Your Story
Although story telling has always been an important part of web design, it’s only recently started to come alive with the use of animation and interactive elements. For example, scrolling down the page to find that the web site is morphing as you scroll, moving and evolving as your mouse glides through the content. These kinds of transitions make your story visual and exciting.

A lot of web sites are also using “one-page” options to tell their story quickly, the navigation a simple easy vertical scroll that moves you through the content without needing to click.  Note that this method of web design is not for everybody. Installing Crazy Egg on your site will tell you how many users actually scroll past the middle of the page. Your audience might be “old school” and not ready for this innovative UX design tactic. But for many users (especially young or technologically savvy ones), the long vertical scroll is the new “in” UX trend.

Responsive Design
Responsive design is nothing new. Just about everyone and their grandmothers know about it. But responsive design is just becoming more important as our society evolves into a mobile one. More and more users rely on their smartphones as their primary method of accessing the Internet, so it’s crucial for websites to look and work well on mobile browsers.

If we take what we know about good web design, we will hopefully see simplicity and storytelling transferred into responsive design. Mobile almost demands simple design, since you can’t squish content easily onto a small screen. Simple, clear calls to action and less content means an easier experience for your users’ thumbs (the users attached will definitely thank you).

We’re looking forward to seeing how user experience design evolves this year on our favorite websites!

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