The Changing Face of Web Design in 2018

Categories Articles

One of the interesting recent developments in web design trends is actually the trend away from trends… or in other word what is happening is a kind of regression to simpler ways, at least from those in the know.

On the other side of the coin, there’s a big shift happening in certain types of corporate sites, especially some British and American media sites, where there’s a tendency to overload pages with so much extraneous content that it can severely impact on the ability of the user to see the content they actually arrived to see.

If the first two paragraphs sound hopeless tangled, well that’s a very succinct allegory for the state of web development in 2018… tangled. It’s a problem we need to sort out, because it won’t be good for anyone if web standards continue to slip.

We’ll return to this topic of overloading later on in the article, because it’s quite a big topic. What I’d just like to briefly do before we get into that is to focus attention on some of the problems we’ll see being solved before that more serious problem is dealt with, and also some of the good things we’ll be seeing happening on the web design front in 2018.

Carousels are finished

There’s a place for carousels, but the abuse of them is going to end, simply because it’s been so overdone that people are tired of them.

Unfortunately on some sites they’re being replaced by something even more obnoxious, which is an autoplay video banner, but this can be expected to die out naturally as developers finally figure out that too many users are on mobile connections and slow broadband for this to be a practical idea.

Carousel abuse, by the way, is simply a situation where they’re used for no other reason than to use them, serving no real purpose to better inform or entertain the viewer.

Death of the 1-3-1-6 layout

This layout pattern was at some point decided as what should be the future of web design, because at the time it was first used, it looked kind of cool. As with many overused fashions, however, people have started to find it irritating.

The layout also is flawed from the point of view that it’s not well suited to good responsive design (even if it can be made to work in responsive design), and encourages overloading with unnecessary elements.

Again, it is a problem of including elements just so they’ll fit the layout and not because they add value to the user experience.

Increase in true responsive design

Designers are better informed now about the need for responsive design, and they’re getting a lot better at implementing it. We should expect to see a lot more sites getting responsive design right, and that can only be a net gain for the users.

As a designer what you’ll want to be conscious of is that the focus on responsive design (which is a good thing) doesn’t result in a lacklustre desktop browser experience (which would be a bad thing). We need to think about how we’re using space to make sure it is efficient and always delivering a quality user experience.

gif image courtesy of 

Rise of the narrative theme

More commercial marketing agencies are going to realize the value of building proper relationships with users, and so we should see an increase in narrative themes, ones that draw us in with a story and informative text, instead of just presenting a wall of products for us to choose and buy.

That doesn’t mean we should go crazy with text and video, it just means we should dial down the commercial focus, instead focusing on building trust, and then convert that trust into sales.

illustration courtesy of 

Huge problems ahead with Internet nanny state

Browsers and ISPs continue to take a hardline stance in terms of trying to protect users from their own lack of savvy, and this in turn is punishing honest developers and small business sites who can’t don’t need security certificates and can’t afford the extra cost.

What we really need is for the Internet users to become more savvy, implementing their own safeguards, instead of technology providers stepping in to do it for them.

illustration courtesy of 

The problem this nannying creates is that it assumes every site to be malicious until proven otherwise, ignores the fact that malicious sites routinely do things by the book to masquerade as non-malicious sites, and that truly malicious sites are a minority.

There’s also the fact that users should take responsibility for their own security, plus the equally important fact that the majority should not be punished (or restricted) because of the actions of a malignant minority.

Geolocation triggered CDN will fall out of fashion

At first it’s going to rise, then people are finally going to figure out it doesn’t work the way it is supposed to, and then (if there’s any sense left in the world) people will stop using this extremely bad idea.

What is meant to happen is the site looks at the IP address and then attempts to fetch CDN resources from the CDN server closest to the client. It would be fine except some sites try to get too fancy. They also look at the client locale and try to serve location-specific content to the client.

This inevitably leads to DNS resolution conflicts, causing even major sites such as Google and Facebook to malfunction on some client machines. It has become an issue because designers have forgotten that people travel.

Travelers don’t always reset the locale on their devices when they travel, and there can be many reasons for this. The conflict between the device locale and the IP location (unless a VPN is used) seems to cause routing problems with many sites.

image courtesy of 

The scourge of overloaded pages

An overloaded page is one that contains a ridiculous amount of external resources, especially JavaScript, where the external resources contribute nothing positive to the user experience. These resources are included solely for the benefit of the site owner, either for making money, collecting information, or just because the designer is a plug-in junky.

Overloaded pages can be annoying for anyone, but they’re especially annoying for mobile users, users running older hardware, and users with slow connections.

It’s the kind of thing that in the past we’d expect to see on trash sites, but lately it has become a problem on many different kind of sites, including mainstream media sites.

Let’s check out an example:

What we’re looking at here is not meant to single out this particular site. It is typical of just about any UK mainstream media site these days, and some American sites are just as overloaded, if not even more so. This doesn’t look overloaded at first glance, but take a closer look.

With JavaScript enabled, a normal Internet connection, and anything less than the latest hardware, the page loading time will be spectacularly unimpressive. At least part of the reason is that the page tries to load scripts from all these domains:

Remember, if even one of these scripts fails to load, it can introduce delays and malfunctions for the rest of the page load.

Most of the news sites are adding these unprofessional click-bait ads at the bottom of their articles. These have no business on a business site. It’s amazing that they’ve been so universally adopted, and what should be a major concern is that these ads can sometimes be offensive or just annoyingly insensitive, which can lead to a backlash against your site.

Plus of course loading all these resources (including all the scripts, images, videos, and other things), puts a strain on the client machine. CPU and memory are consumed with each item loaded, and in a multi-tab browsing environment, when most browsers are still plagued with bugs, it all ads up to a potentially frustrating time for users.

You know who the users are going to blame when their browser (and maybe entire OS session) crashes? They’re going to blame you. When they do, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get that user back, or they’ll come back grudgingly, expecting problems.

It’s understandable some sites need to raise money through advertising, but there’s no way to justify connecting to 39 different domains in order to do so. It’s just going too far, when it’s not necessary. You could serve less ads, and serve them all from one place, and the results would be better.

Another advantage of avoiding overloading is fewer privacy invasions, raising the trust level of your site. Users don’t hate ads, they hate ads that get in the way of what they’re doing and which invade their privacy, even to the point of spying on them and following them around.

Let’s stop doing that, and make money honestly with clean sites the way nature intended. It can only result in more profits for your company and a better user experience for those visiting your site.

header image courtesy of 

Inspired Mag Team
We always try to come up with high quality and well-researched content in order to inform and inspire the creative web community.