This year sees a digital world that continues to evolve and shift, and website design changing with it. While the web helped connect us during a global pandemic, it also highlighted some of the issues in the digital world as we knew it.
These issues, including accessibility, loading speed, digital burnout, and a desire for more genuine connections, are seen in the website trends of 2022. Perhaps more importantly though, one of the biggest trends has simply been fun. Designers have been bringing a smile to people’s faces with interactive and enjoyable design. So let’s take a look at what website trends we’re seeing this year.
While this has been a trend in websites and apps for a while, the function seems to be shifting. Unlike previous years where the focus was public point scoring and ranking higher than other users, websites are now including game features simply for fun, enjoyment, and challenge.
Gucci Burst is a minigame to promote the new Gucci Basket sneaker. It uses nostalgic 80’s inspired design with a simple arrow-key ‘dodge’ game, and the result? The kind of fun, chilled experience that the sneakers are meant to evoke.
This can give users a nice break from the fatigue of information gathering. Rather than having to read through word-heavy and complicated websites or navigate through pages and filters, users can engage with fun and stress-free content.
Many people were reliant on the internet for work and school over the pandemic, and we’ve realised how much of the web is not designed for the needs of those with disabilities or impairments.
New web and app development tools are being made specifically for this purpose. Adee App is a plugin for digital website design tools that help design for people who are colour-blind, visually impaired or have mobility issues.
Websites like the BBC’s are constantly updating to add accessibility features. Some of these include keyboard navigation with the tab button, or hidden code that means screen readers can give a better description of the button or feature. Many public bodies are now required to have sites that meet specific accessibility requirements, and is something that we expect to be rolled out wider going forward.
Some websites are moving away from photo-laden design and instead going for a pared back look. We’re seeing more interesting typography and abstract graphics and textures.
Text data analysis tool Pienso removes almost all imagery, to help declutter websites of visual distractions. Data can be hard to visually represent while still giving a website personality. Here, the use of typography and big, simple shapes keeps the site informative and fun without using literal images.
Whether this is appropriate for an individual website, however, is dependent on various factors. Is it important to show accurate images of products or places? Would abstract graphics hinder usability or understanding? But, where appropriate, this style can be effective and more genuine than using corporate-style photos.
On the flipside, some websites that aim to create a more handmade and emotional experience have turned to creating ‘digital collages’ of photographs and typography woven together with graphics and animation.
Patagonia’s Blue Heart campaign is a great example of making a complex environmental issue more engaging. It pastes together pictures of the beautiful Baltic landscape, along with it’s towns and people. Two Jewish Women also uses a more design-focused collage to tell their experiences as orthodox Jewish women, immersing users into their lives.
Not only does this add a touch of ‘human’ and handmade, but it creates great opportunities for subtle animations and parallax scrolling.
These small, often subtle animations can go almost unnoticed but add to the user experience on a website. More than just some visual fun, these give feedback to users that the website is responding to them.
Elivi Hotels makes it easy to see what features are interactive on its pages. Buttons are hover-animated, and the cursor changes its shape to the text, button, or feature it’s hovering over. Defund Tigray Genocide educates people on the terrible impacts of the war in Ethiopia. It uses micro-interactions to show users key information and make it more impactful.
The use of hierarchy, colour, and text can also help users to find the information they need. But responsive, animated features can add an extra level of responsiveness, so that users can understand what different features are doing.
As more people now need to access online shopping and resources and are increasingly familiar with the ease of Google’s predictive searching, many websites have adopted live or filtered search features.
Currys use live search to predict what customers will be looking for as they start typing. Their search feature shows products with images and prices, giving users information far faster than typing an item name and hitting ‘search’. Aquerone’s CBD wellbeing shop has a series of filters for their products, not only for the type of product but for the intended benefits the users are looking for. This saves them from scrolling through all the products to see what they need.
However, these search features don’t only apply to ecommerce stores. With many sites now hosting a range of blogs, data, and content, these features can help users find what they need with less effort, keeping them engaged.
Not every website design trend will be right for your website users. But adding features that are right for your users makes sure the time they spend on your website is rich and meaningful, leading to long lasting engagement.
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