Web Design Trends 2016 – Part Two: The Look

Continuing from our Web Design Trends 2016 – Part One: The Design, here’s how things are literally looking for web design in the year to come.

Not-so-stock photography

Stock photography as we know it is fast falling out of favour. This is happening for many reasons. Firstly, overuse has led to contempt. Secondly, the rise of social media and visual platforms has only highlighted the gulf between genuine photos and cheesy setups. Thirdly, the human brain is very visual, meaning that in combination with the first two points, the stock in such photography is plummeting, if you pardon the pun.

This doesn’t mean that stock photography will cease to exist (or if you pardon another pun, continued to be stocked); it’s just going to start looking far more natural, personable, and less posed.

When stock photography isn’t used, expect to see it replaced by some of the others aesthetic web design trends, such as…

Hand-drawn, sketchy and illustrated

With more of the development side of web design becoming standardised and less time-consuming, aesthetic presentation of a site is a great way for designers to stretch their creative muscles since you don’t get more personalised than illustration. The hand-drawn look is the very opposite of cheesy stock photography and bland default templates which instantly creates a unique brand identity for any site.

Currently, the trends towards both rustic/naturalistic and modern/bold give plenty of room for creative manoeuvre. We’ve touched on the natural, so let’s look at…

Boldly going bold

If the internet was around in the 1980’s, it might look something like how things are headed in 2016. Smartphone-centric design, rendering evolution, browsing habits and Material Design have encouraged the use of going bold. Bright colour highlights/combinations and eye-catching typography framed by the minimalism of modern web design will make 2016 a very colourful year.



The trends towards illustrative and bold also apply to type. The debate regarding choice between serif and sans-serif will most likely rage well beyond 2016 as technology, resolutions and fashions change. Whichever type you choose will be subject to the trends of natural/handwritten, bright/bold, or a combination of the two.

Talking of combinations, expect to see experiments with breaking the golden rule of “no more than two fonts on screen at once”. Done well, a multiple mix of fonts can work (such as variations of the same font family).In keeping with the spirit of 2016 aesthetic trends, it’s a very bold move.

Animation: big and small

From tiny GIFs to big hero headers, the use of animation in web design has been increasing. This will continue to be one of the big web design trends for 2016. With the demise of Flash and the rise of tools such as GreenSock, animation is entering a new era in the following ways:

  • UI Animation – Twitter’s recent change from “star likes” to “heart favourites” also gave it an excuse to add some animation flourish to the action. Expect to see more of this in 2016.
  • Loading Animation – As flat design leads to websites looking more alike, a distinctive loading animation can establish identity in style from the moment users visit a site.
  • Hover Animations – More of a browser-based feature, hover animations are a great way of enhancing and showcasing the interactive parts of your site.

Well-placed animations can be distinctive, entertaining, and add to the interactive feel of a site. As with any design decision, you should always ask yourself first and foremost if implementing animation serves a purpose. A good mantra to bear in mind: “Does the UI enhance the UX?”


We’ll be looking more at the UX in our next part.

Click here for Web Design Trends 2016 – Part One: The Design!

Click here for Web Design Trends 2016 – Part Three: The Experience!

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