The Rise and Fall of Web Design Trends

web design trends

Just like fashion, web design has its fair share of trends that come and go. However, much like the mood rings and crushed velvet of the 90s, some trends just aren’t coming back. So why are we always drawn to these trends and why do we replicate them until they completely fall out of fashion?

The main reason for these fluctuating trends is simply because web design is ever changing and ever growing. With new technology, comes new trends which everyone wants to try. The only problem with this is that ‘trendy’ websites can quickly become dated once said trend goes out of fashion.

What web design trends are you talking about?

There are many web design trends that have been and gone, and plenty that have stayed too. Here are a few in each category:

Been and gone

  • Image galleries with captions
  • Scroll bars
  • Separate mobile sites
  • Flash
  • Scrolling text
  • Loading screens
  • Hit counters

Here to stay

  • Responsive design
  • Less is more (less pages, more relevant content, easier navigation)
  • Rich typography
  • Interactivity (clickable elements that are used to convey a message)

The latter list may be shorter and more general, but its principals are clear. These trends have focused on the person visiting the website and their user experience, rather than something flashing which can come and go.

Why do web developers use them for clients?

The above question has become something of a heated debate among the web development community. If many of these web design trends go out of fashion quickly, then why use them in the first place? The answer to this is usually simple – because the client asks for it.

In many cases, a client will have done some research before coming to a web developer with a job – most of this research involves looking at websites that they like the look of. The likelihood of these websites containing at least one current web design trend is high. After all, why would they be looking at dated websites in the first place?

The only problem with this research is that most web design trends are based purely on aesthetics and not on practicality. Will that one page website really appeal to their target audience? Will that snazzy animation help or distract their user from their message? These are the questions you really need to ask.

To follow or not to follow?

Following design trends is not always a bad thing. Many websites are created to utilise these trends in a way which works for their end user, but there’s no point in using a design trend just for the sake of it.

Design should be aesthetically pleasing yes, but in terms of web design, it should also be practical and easy to use. If you are cramming in fancy navigation, animations and hover effects all over your site, then your message is likely to be lost.

By all means use current web design trends as your inspiration, but don’t let them dictate your design completely.

What are your thoughts? Let us know on twitter @rarecompanyuk.