Year after year, trends in web design and development advance and as technology gets smarter. Staying on top of these updates can be challenging, being ahead of the curve is even harder. Each year, we do our best to scour the Internet and find the latest and greatest ideas and technology in web design and development to provide you with our top trends to watch out for, and 2018 is no exception.

What’s New in 2018?

Successful businesses are always striving to evolve and improve the quality of their websites to meet the needs of their users. Whether you’re just beginning to dive in and build a website from scratch, or you’re looking to redesign and update your existing site completely, the following list of web trends should be on your list to consider adopting in 2018:

1. DEVELOPING FOR MOBILE FIRST

We’ve been hearing about Google’s plan for mobile-first indexing for a while now. 2018 is here, and mobile-first indexing is inevitable. If you haven’t already invested in updating your website to be responsive and accommodating to the needs of mobile users first, your time is running out. Mobile users have surpassed desktop users, and this trend will only continue.

According to Statista, “50.3% of all website traffic is generated by mobile users.” To optimize the mobile user experience, every aspect of your website must be designed for users on any device, starting with mobile. It’s common sense, and a simple concept: design for the smallest screens (mobile devices), and then incorporate responsive design elements for larger devices, such as tablets, and finally, desktops.

Person holding phone with the Forest Explorer Application open, in a forest.

A few key features to consider when designing for mobile-first include maximizing site speed, enhancing readability, creating a simple and intuitive navigation structure…and did we mention maximizing site speed? A slow website is likely to cause your mobile users to leave your site, and our definition of “slow” is now anything over 2-3 seconds.

2. Site Security (SSL)

While site security is not necessarily a new trend in web design and development, may be even more important in 2018 than it has ever been before. Why? It all comes back to SEO.

A recent GoDaddy blog reiterates that “Sites that don’t have SSL certificates could provide bad experiences for users and even rank lower in search engine results,” by reminding us of one of Chrome’s recent updates to how they show URLs without an SSL certificate. In February 2018, Google Chrome announced a significant feature of the upcoming July 2018 release of Chrome 68, where all HTTP sites will be marked as “not secure.” Mozilla’s in on the security game, too.

Not only is HTTPS much easier and more cost-effective today that in the past, but it also provides users with a level of performance that HTTP can’t deliver. What does this mean for web developers and business owners investing in a new or updated website design? If your website does have an SSL Certificate, it may be time to seriously consider investing in one.

3. Accessibility Compliance

Simply put, web accessibility is about providing an optimal user experience for users of all types – including those with disabilities. And, a large number of web users (15 percent of the global population, according to Essential Accessibility) have a disability that affects their ability to experience the digital world. Since user experience is becoming increasingly important to the relevance and ranking of your website in search engines, accessibility has become a key factor to consider.

Making your website as accessible as possible to all types of users is not only is not only in your best interest as a business but for many organizations, it’s the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to several different organizations, such as state and local government agencies, privately operated transportation organizations and commercial facilities, and more.

Some examples of best practices for developing accessible content include entering Alt text and descriptions for all images, providing transcripts for videos and/or podcasts, allowing for the use of a mouse and keyboard as well as voice-operated functionality. For more information about the basics of web accessibility, usability.gov gives an excellent outline of compliance standards and requirements.

4. Engaging and Interactive Animations

Animations are used as more than merely an entertainment factor. Animation is also a great way to – you guessed it – maximize the user experience. Even the simplest of animations can take a great website and make it exceptional.

One of the greatest things about animation is that it can serve a variety of purposes. It’s definitely a great way to grab (and keep) your user’s attention or to explain how to use your product or service without needing to shoot live video. Animations can also be an effective way to tell the story of your brand, by animating your logo, or creating an animated walk through of a design for visitors landing on your website or web application.

Animated image of Nauste Contrcutions Website Design.  Displayed on a computer screen

And, just like a picture is worth 1,000 words – animation increases the impact of your content 10-fold. When videos are included on a landing page, research indicates conversions can increase by 80%. It’s important not to go overboard, however, as too many animations can be overwhelming for users, and will undoubtedly slow down your site speed.

The Key to Successful Web Trends

User experience is (and arguably always has been) the key element in achieving the most successful web design and development trends. By centering all efforts around maximizing user experience, you are more likely to engage your target audience, increase your brand visibility, and maintain a loyal customer base.

The above list includes just a handful of the latest trends you should be paying attention to. Are you sensing a trend? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Do you want a website that incorporates the latest and best web design trends to help you deliver a remarkable and consistent user experience for your customers? Contact us today to get started.

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