Web Design Trends in 2017

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By | Dec 7, 2016

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As our web design / web development community continues to evolve we (and the online community of digital marketers at large) will be looking to deliver a more personalized, relevant and interactive user experience. Diving into the understanding of the client, their brand and their demographics has always been important, but as the digital landscape has changed, we must dig deeper to earn the customer's attention. No gimmicks. Just valuable content that makes them want to come back and engage.

As 2017 approaches we've been keeping tabs on emerging trends and here's 92 West's prediction for the upcoming year with web design / development.

Material Design and Material Motion

Material design is a popular visual interface language that was developed by Google in 2014 to create a single, unified experience across various device sizes and platforms. Since its inception, Material design has grown and is now regarded as a major milestone for the world web design community.

Bold and intentional material design is used to drive the visuals by creating meaning and a tactile experience. The design has realistic visual cues which are grounded in reality.

Material design utilizes grid-based layouts, typography, space, color, padding, scale, and lighting and shadow depth effects. Elements live in defined spaces with a clear hierarchy. 

Motion provides meaning in material design. As such, aspects such as animation should include simple and easy transitions that focus on the design and not just for the sake of movement.

In promoting material design, Google wanted to provide a great experience to all users irrespective of screen size by outlining how apps should look and work on mobile devices. Most of its Android mobile applications such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, and Google Maps have adopted the new design language. 

Since it has become the standard, Google will continue to influence web applications and early this year, Google stopped showing paid ads on the right-hand side of its searches for users accessing it from the desktop. Our guess... Google probably did this to standardize the advertising across devices since mobile doesn’t support the right-hand column.

Side Note: The search engine giant headquartered in Mountain View also introduced four paid ads on top of its organic search results; making the need for a PPC adword campaign or organic SEO for the top 5 spots even more necessary (Way to Go Google.)

Resources for Visual Reference: Material Design on GoogleMaterial Motion on GoogleMaterial Design Blog

Minimalism Design and Cards

Web and mobile apps are shifting from pages to a more personalized experience using cards. Cards refer to rectangles of images and text that brands use to provide users with more detailed information. They are perfect for responsive design and can easily reorganize themselves to fit different breakpoints. 

First adopted by social sites like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, cards with impressively done uncluttered designs and motion graphics are now in use across multiple industries. 

Card based design enhances the user experience by allowing sites to organize a large amount of content into digestible pieces, and are especially useful for sites with user-generated content, like social media.

Netflix is perhaps one of the most notable companies that has previously used cards. The company removed carousel browsing and re-designed its website with more focus on cards. Eventually, it replaced slow-moving side scrolling with click-based browsing.

The purpose of the rebranding was to offer a smoother experience for users accessing the site from various devices. It also changed its logo to a solitary letter N, which utilizes space well and enhances content delivery.


Microinteractions add up for a more fulfilling user experience between users and website or mobile apps. Dan Saffer, author of Microinteractions: Designing with Details, offers this cheat sheet to guide you on what Microinteractions entail:

  • Provide feedback for completed actions
  • Add delightful elements without distracting you from the main experience.
  • Accomplish an isolated task, such as liking a friend’s post.
  • Shape and teach users how to interact with site.
  • Manipulate particular settings.
  • Prevent user error by communicating status, changes, or drawing attention to certain areas.

A properly designed microinteraction often have an immense effect on users. Examples include turning off the alarm, a change in button color that indicates it’s been pressed, or a specific sound that alerts you of a new comment on your picture. Every touch, scroll, pinch, zoom, click and tap offers an intuitive way to interact with a website.

Big Data, Analytics and Visualization

Big data has always been a key point of interest in the world of web and now businesses are working out how to make this big data smaller and more understandable for users via data visualizations and visual analytics.

Recognizing how fast visual data can impact the human mind, brands are now focusing on mastering the medium to influence consumer decision making process.

Data visualization entails the use of graphical representation of particular data to help underline any relationships existing among various elements of information in a clear and engaging manner. 

Virtual Reality and Immersive Full Screen Video

A majority of companies have added video to their web apps thereby making them excellent options for offering "how-to" information to the users. Short videos running for between 60 and 90 seconds offer a great way to introduce a product or service to visitors.

While these have been around for a while, their popularity seems to be growing at a faster rate now. Currently, more and more companies are using product explainer videos to offer quicker ways to explain the benefits users get when they use their products and services. These videos incorporate informative voice-overs and clever animations to give users a taste of what product or service on a website or mobile app entails which of course is good for driving decision-making. You can add captions to the videos to maximize audience reach for your product, or service.

So What Does it All Mean... Really

No surprises here. Our industry continues to move fast and we're seeing more individuals / companies catch on to leveraging data to enhance the user experience through well though out design. With this in mind, web development has shifted ever so stedily from static to dynamic and now onto interaction with purpose (no longer building flash site's because it's cool to have a flash site).

Overall, I'm excited for the possibilities and the challenges that await us in 2017. We will continue to enhance our understanding of human behavior, how it relates to RWD ( Responsive Web Design) and Mobile Apps and what awesome details we can craft to enhance our visitors experience; prompting them to come back and act.

Keep in Mind: Trends Come and Go

While I feel as though it's amazing to see what trends come it’s important that you remember to always consider context before you can apply any of them. Don’t just follow trends because they “look great”. Instead, only apply a given technique if you think your users or clients will actually benefit from it.

Having said that, there is no better time to think about the future than right now. 

Happy 2017 from your local strategic creative!

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