Trends for 2016 (I): keys for digital designers

6 min reading
Trends for 2016 (I): keys for digital designers
Trends for 2016 (I): keys for digital designers


Whenever a year comes to an end, the Internet is filled with lists of everything we’ve seen in the last twelve months or predictions of what we’ll see in the future. There are also trends in software development and digital design that are worth noting in a list. Development in the cloud, app programming interfaces (APIs), special use of fonts, the growth of storytelling, responsive design and the use of parallax and a tendency towards simplicity are the top trends for 2016.

Here we outline some of the most important for both digital project developers and web page and app designers.

Design trends for 2016

●      Responsive design.

Responsive design, which establishes a single design for all devices (desktop, mobile and tablet), became widespread in the digital sector in 2015. 2016 may be the year in which it becomes the definitive standard.

A number of teams have embraced this multi-device design –essentially for two reasons: because content is being consumed on devices like smartphones and tablets, and because it cuts development times.

Responsive design has some advantages for digital teams:

–       It improves positioning in search engines: From April 2015, pages with responsive design are ranked higher in Google searches. In projects where organic traffic serves to monetize,  responsive design is a must.  

–       A different user experience: User experience is now at the core of every project, largely because the user –the audience– is key. Responsive design  creates a single experience whatever the environment. UX are the important new metrics: the length of time on a page or the number of pages served per user, for example.

–       It increase the volume of conversions: Improving the user experience on all devices with standard styles offers security, encourages intuitive consumption and boosts income.  

●     Material Design Lite.

One of the new developments presented at the Google developers conference in 2014 (Google I/O 2014) was this Material Design Lite, a new trend designed for the Android operating system, but also for all other environments. MDL is a series of front-end components used by designers to assemble simple interfaces for mobile devices. Naturally it is based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript and can be used with any development framework.

MDL goes hand-in-hand with the trend known as Paper Elements, a set of visual elements for the development of UX for Google devices. It includes everything from buttons and different types of menus, to card-type design. MDL makes it possible to treat design almost like a game of Tetris, even incorporating new elements into old designs without touching the project code. 



●    More infinite scroll, more parallax. .

Some users find the One Page-type web pages rather strange, as the sites have practically no menu and it drops down vertically in an almost infinite scroll. 2015 was the year of the One Page websites and this trend is very likely to develop even farther in 2016. The idea is to make more use of scrolling, where the user reveals the content by moving downwards, with fewer browser clicks per menu.

A key technique within this type of pages is parallax. This allows the use of image and animation that appear and disappear in the foreground and middle ground and give the user the sensation of looking at a website with two speeds and a large depth of field. The use of parallax and the infinite scroll design technique has pros and cons:


–       The time required to conceptualize and design the site architecture  is reduced to a minimum: It has no long browser menus, as this is a web page with a single screen.

–       These pages are geared to brand marketing: As there is only one landing page, this significantly favors the capacity for conversion.

–       Less time spent on development and on layout.


–       Less organic traffic for positioning in search engines: One of the key elements in positioning in search engines is the volume of information and URLs. There is only one URL.

–       It takes a considerable job of content editing and visual efficiency to concentrate everything essential in one URL.  

This type of design is undergoing an enormous boom due to its features and the advantages of storytelling for brand projects. Stories that trigger reactions in the user were the stars of 2015 and will continue to be in 2016. The audience is at the center of everything, and that orientation is only possible thanks to the content. More storytelling.   

●     Card-based design.

Web pages from all over the world opted in 2015 for card-type design. This type of design provides order, contextualization, simplicity and efficiency and is a very straightforward solution in terms of design and development, without being in any way sub-standard or lacking in resources. Quite the contrary. For a digital project focused on creating contents –whether as a means of communication or a web page for marketing contents–, card-type design is a very interesting option. Companies as experienced as Google or social networks like Twitter and Facebook use this type of technique.

●      Flat design.

Minimalism. Without volume, without shadows, without shading or blurring… Flat design is exactly what its name implies. Flat design. And therein lies its potential. The goal is extreme simplicity. The aim is to supply a lot of information with the fewest possible graphic and communications resources.

This design can be applied supplied both on web pages and mobile apps. A paradigmatic example of flat design is the user interface in Microsoft Windows 8 and 10, which they call Modern UI or modern user interface. The firm from Redmond is one of the companies that has been applying flat design for some time. And they’re not the only ones –Apple and Google do too.  

●      Creative use of fonts.

Every day more and more designers are using fonts as an end and not just as a means. Fonts as a content itself, as a communicative element. Large fonts are becoming ever more widespread, combining their enormous power with images, illustrations and animations and taking the role of another graphic element, which is both aesthetic and capable of conveying emotions.

Tools like Google Fonts allow designers to choose the fonts for their digital projects, for titles, highlighting, headers, menus, text paragraphs and more. Google Fonts is an easy way to try out all kinds of different sizes and types of fonts. A trend in design for 2016 will be the creative combination of typefaces.

●      Animated image: GIFs, cinemagraphs and loading animations.

In the image category –in addition to the use of large-scale resources covering the whole width of the site–, 2016 also heralds the arrival of the animated image: from the famous GIF through to the less well-known cinemagraph, a static image to which some movement is added in a loop.

This type of animated images can be used in headers to endow web pages with movement and depth. 

Loading animations will also be a trend in 2016. There are already a number of web pages that use them to entertain the user while the site is loading or is performing a specific action which requires a waiting time. Some services use images on a loop while the user uploads files to the cloud, for example. These animations tend to be common in One Page-type pages.

●      Microinteractions.  

The aim of any website is to trigger actions in the user. Micro-interactions foster consumption and will continue to be a trend in 2016. Encouraging users by means of buttons or windows designed to prompt them to sign up for a newsletter or a discussion forum, fill in a form or rate a particular content will be one of the evident challenges for designers this coming year.   

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