Digital Design: Trends

Mobile has changed the way designers and developers look at web design.   Can I verify this?   Sure can:

What does this mean for digital design?

Enter responsive design.   The Visit Stockholm site is a case in point, see it on mobile as well as yr laptop, reduce your screen size – watch the site shift and change according to your mode of access and screen … but there is more.


Singita, a company specialising in safari holidays in Tanzania and South Africa have another great responsive web offering:


There are stacks more examples – Old Spitalfields Market, Visit London, Mashable to name just a few.   What they all share is an ability to change according to the screen you are viewing the site with.

So, mobile first.   But there is more.   Tumblr and Pinterest have inspired visually rich infinite scrolling models of web design too.   The growth in scrolling is easily explained, it is simple to execute and is driven by designers thinking about mobile and tablet devices, and about how to design with the swipe in mind.   Other examples include parallax scrolling (the Life of Pi is a great example of this), horizontal scrolling and column-based scrolling.

HTML5 has also changed the way responsive design can be rendered.   The trick to success in both cases is fast loading and a smooth user experience.   In the bad old days of flash, rich sites took an age to render.   The user experience should be borne in mind as these example from TehhanLax and Handsome show well.

Having mentioned user experience, this handy little progress indicator from The Daily Beast (indicating how far into the content you’ve progressed) is dinky.   This focus on the micro level of the user’s experience demonstrates the degree of thought and care that this site’s designers and coders took.

Less text, and in some cases no text, is a growing trend.   This trend is growing in part because we are all time poor but also because we are largely visual creatures – remember the old aphorism about your body language saying more about you than your words . . . here are some great examples from Fast Co Design, WeAreEli, The Verge, This is a Limited Edition.

Navigation is also being minimised.   This trend looks set to grow in popularity.   The need to design condensed navigation for mobile is bleeding into a growing focus on image led navigation with the use of icons, rolldowns or navigation that shrinks as you start to scroll down the page.   The keynote is simplicity, pure and simple.

Along with minimal navigation and hugely reduced, if not entirely absent text, we’re seeing the replacement of text with images in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – the language used to code the look and feel of a web page.   This is a partially successful approach involving the replacement of, say, the H1 tag with an image.   Again, pay great attention to detail and make sure image titles and all the other indicators search engines use to identify your site are adhered to, lest your SEO go to pot.   In that regard, this might help.

martin luther king march on washington smithsonianImmersive storytellingrich content is another way to explain this – is another trend getting a lot of attention and which uses video, spoken word embeds, images, typography and text to great effect.   The Smithsonian’s ‘March on Washington’ is a great example.   The Verge also have a great piece outlining the NSA’s surveillance and the fall out from the Snowden revelations.

Other emerging trends include mix and match typography, monochomatic design and its antithessis rainbow design using every colour imaginable, more and bigger images (usually tiled).

With more mobile devices than people on this planet, it would be folly not to have a responsive website designed with the user experience to the fore.

The basic principles of SEO (you want your content to be found), the user experience (you want people to enjoy using the site and be able to interact / contribute) and good old fashioned good manners still apply.   It’s just that now there are so many more ways to make your website look beautiful, be responsive and deliver more.   What’s not to like?