In December 2015 – you know, back when all the musicians, comedians and film stars you ever loved were still alive – I wrote a blog piece predicting the trends that would shape the web in 2016.
So, let’s find out if I’m more Nostradamus or knows-nothing…
Sites will increasingly highlight content in rectangular and square ‘cards’ – a bold photographic image, sometimes with a short tagline overlayed.
Not a good start. Not only did I make a spelling mistake here, I also got my first prediction completely wrong!
To assess my potency as an oracle, I’ve been browsing the sites that were recognised by the various industry awards this year and it’s clear that the ‘masonry’ style of blocked content is passé. In fact, some of the best new designs have purposely subverted the idea of a restrictive grid layout.
However, grids may be about to make a comeback with the CSS Grid becoming supported by Chrome and Firefox in March 2017. But for now that prediction remains squarely incorrect.
Look out for more imaginative layering, textured backgrounds, brighter colours and quirkier fonts.
Now I’m talking. For a great example, see the CSS Design Awards 2016 winner Because Recollection, a veritable symphony of textures, colours and quirkiness.
The site was also nominated for a Webby Award in the ‘Best User Experience’ category alongside Christmas Express, demonstrating that creative fonts and textures are not just cosmetic but actually enhance the experience of using a site.
Both sites are also good examples of…
Rich animations, cinemagraphs and auto-playing videos are making a comeback in respectable web design.
Check out the Awwwards nominee Seagrim’s Gin for some content delivery that tastes almost as good as their drink, while the Webby-winning Teachers Guild combines video content with simple calls to action.
Products and services will increasingly be tied to mini-sites and pages where visitors participate in ‘journeys’ or ‘stories’, which is marketing speak for clicking on stuff to make other stuff happen.
Another Webby Award winner was this gorgeous campaign site by the Rainforest Foundation Norway in which you swoop down from the clouds into a verdant interactive experience.
Meanwhile the W3 Awards recognised WILL Interactive, who made financial prudence fun by creating Misadventures in Money Management, an interactive comic book about such thrilling topics as credit scores and personal budgeting. No, really. And it works because…
Brands are increasingly aware that the key to online sales is customer engagement [through social media].
PR agency Tangerine described their ‘Taste Freedom’ campaign for Pizza Hut as “an edgy, uninhibited social presence” that “put pop-culture, experiential events, influencer engagement and creative content at its heart”. It must have worked as the firm received top accolades from the UK Social Media Communications Awards and the Drum Awards for the Digital Industries (Dadi Awards).
Sonic the Hedgehog is now a Twitter star more than a video game hero and another cartoon figure, Donald Trump, managed to get elected president based on his social media output, so I’m going to give myself a Facebook-style thumbs up for that prediction.
Don’t waste that valuable click by bombarding visitors with reams of text – increasing broadband and mobile data speeds mean images and video can be your friend again when it comes to holding people’s attention and reducing bounce rates.
W3 Awards ‘Best in Show’ winner for motion graphics Deutser.com illustrates this perfectly, placing you inside a swirling galaxy of astral lights. It’s not the text that gets you interested in the agency, but the starry visions. Their slogan, not coincidentally, is ‘Deutser delivers clarity.’
In the same awards, the best news site was named as CBS News’ live feed which has virtually no text content at all, while the Web Marketing Association heralded the State of Indiana Website for eschewing the usual text-heavy style of government website.
With Amazon upping the ante by introducing same-day delivery in London last month, customers will increasingly expect their items delivered post-haste.
With less than two days left until Christmas 2016, it’s still not too late to get your Christmas shopping done and also avoid the crowds, with major retailers offering a delivery service faster than Santa’s sleigh. Amazon will still be accepting orders before midday on Christmas Eve!
Meanwhile 2016 was the year when the streets of UK towns and cities became no-go areas for pedestrians because of the constant danger of being struck by a Deliveroo rider.
In the race to offer the fastest possible delivery, the big online retailers will soon start promising parcels delivered within the hour by flying monkeys on zero-hour contracts.
Okay, so this one hasn’t quite turned out right, but Amazon have started using their futuristic delivery drones, which is probably a more terrifying prospect.