We’re very nearly at the end of the year. Not only that, we’re nearly at the end of the decade. You’ll very shortly be getting the Christmas tree out of storage, thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and reflecting on the year that was 2019. While you’re busy doing that, we’ll be thinking about what the big trends in web design are going to be for 2020.
A new decade means a whole new opportunity for innovation on the internet, and that’s an exciting thing. We don’t always notice a change as it happens, but if you were to visit the Wayback Machine website and go looking for web pages from 2010, you’d be surprised how primitive they appear to be compared to the web pages of today.
We don’t expect a decade’s worth of innovation to happen in the space of twelve months, but we do expect to see a few things begin to change between now and then end of 2020, and we want to highlight a few of them in particular for your consideration. These are the features, themes, and philosophies that we expect to see becoming commonplace on major websites in the year to come.
We’re all slowly becoming accustomed to the idea of speaking to a computer – or an AI device – to access information. The process started when Siri was introduced to iPhones and then moved on to the next stage of evolution when people started buying Google or Amazon devices to sit in their homes. Studies have indicated that over 25% of American homes now contain a smart speaker, so we’re at the point where we believe it’s safe to say that the concept has penetrated into mainstream consciousness. If we’re happy with the idea of speaking to a speaker in the corner of the room, why not start speaking to websites in the same way characters used to speak to the computer in ‘Star Trek?’
There are obvious privacy concerns that come along with talking to the internet, but those same privacy concerns apply to smartphones and smart speakers, and they don’t put people off the idea of using them. The technology that would allow people to use their phone, tablet, or laptop microphones to speak to a website already exists, and we expect people to start using it. Why type on a keyboard or tap a touchscreen when you could just talk to the screen?
Uniformity of Purpose
There used to be an idea in web design that having page after page of content unrelated to the main cut and thrust of your site was a good thing. We now realize that not all content is good content. It makes sense to have some well-worded content on your site for SEO purposes, but aside from that, everything should be on-message, and what’s there should be limited to the things a reader or customer may have a genuine interest in.
This is all about removing distractions and making it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for without rooting through four-level-deep menus. We know who to thank for this trend, and it’s mobile slots websites. There’s been a surge in the number of mobile slots websites over the past few years, and the best ones have proven to be very adept at persuading people to spend money. You’ll never see a mobile slots website putting multiple barriers in the way of someone who just wants to play slot games, and other retail websites appear to be learning this lesson. If a website sells books, expect to see books for sale on the homepage.
A Return To Minimalism
The internet has gone through phases when it comes to minimalism. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the majority of pages were minimalist because web connection speeds were slow, and bandwidth was limited. Nobody wanted to spend five minutes waiting for a page to download, and so websites were basic, simple affairs with little content other than text and relevant links, and minimal color schemes. When broadband came along, all of that changed. Everyone wanted video content, and everyone wanted elaborate graphics and features. Websites became bloated and showy.
As we move toward 2020, minimalism is cool again not only in web design, but in wider society. Web design doesn’t completely follow fashion design, but it does so in broad strokes. Prepare to welcome back white spaces, and two-tone color palettes.
You won’t be alone on a website for very much longer. Even now, we’re seeing more and more ‘can we help?’ chat boxes popping up when we’re visiting websites, and the person on the other end of the chat is usually a bot, programmed to answer specific questions or offer general advice. As artificial intelligence continues to make advances, we expect to see it play a more active role in the way we interact with websites.
We’re all used to the idea of cookies tracking us across the internet, and retaining information about what we did and what we looked at last time we visited a specific web site. In 2020 and beyond, we expect that tracking to go further. Websites will note which products you hover over, and offer you on-the-spot discounts to tempt you. They’ll try to work out what you’re looking for, and present it to you before you ask for it. It will re-arrange the layout of a website based on what it knows about you, and what your browsing habits are. Basically, it’ll be like the return of the old Microsoft Office paperclip; only this time, it knows who you are and what you want rather than just guessing. You’ll get the personal shopper experience online just the same way you would if you were standing in a physical store.
We think four predictions are enough for one twelve-month period. We have a few more thoughts on what the internet of the future is likely to look like, but we’ll save them for when we come to look at web design trends for 2021. We’re also very aware that trying to predict the future can go horribly wrong – so feel free to come back and laugh at us in twelve months if none of the above has happened, or shows any sign of being likely to happen!