Web design predictions 2016

If 2015 was the year of those big full-viewport images – even on individual article pages – and infinite scrolling, and responsive design, what will 2016 for web design?

Mobile first

With the incredible growth of smart phones and tablets, we’re already beginning to see mobile-first design, where the basic site layout and homepage content is dictated first by what is acceptable on hi-res, low-physical-size screens and then only secondarily ported to hi-res, hi-size displays. Without a good web design team, this could make your site look mediocre on laptop screens.

TV second

The trend for smart TVs with apps built in for things like Netflix is driving uptake of Internet-connected TVs. That means web browsing is coming to TV, particularly now that air mice are becoming cheap pointing devices for navigating smart TV menu systems. 2016 will only see the beginning of this trend, but eventually your site needs to look good in full-HD – whether the screen is 5 inches or 5 feet across.

Animation and the death of Flash

We’ve already seen full-screen video and cinemagraphs as site home pages – notably AirBnb’s – as the big trend for 2015. Expect this to peak and wither in 2016 as web design leaders find a new zeitgeist.

With Flash’s capabilities now available directly in the browser and scalable responsively to screen-size, there will surely be an explosion of the sorts of whizzy, animated sites that made Flash a scourge of the late-00’s, but hopefully this time done in a more accessible, linkable and scalable way. Home pages won’t just scroll, they will flip, twitch, and spin to open out more content. “Micro experiences” is the buzz-phrase here.


Google Fonts are now allowing a wider spread of typography guaranteed to look nice across different devices – meaning that it will be easier to create a differentiated site, not being forced to rely on Arial and Comic Sans. The current trend is for spindly, lower-case sans-serif fonts everywhere but expect to see an explosion of font usage in 2016.

Diversification of Originality

2015 has seen an incredible convergence of website design into large “hero image” sites with long-scrolling parallax effects, and lots of images, lower case sans-serif fonts, and “quirky” hand-drawn images. 2016 will surely find designers diversifying and exploring what’s possible in a way that gets away from the Hoxton-ing of everything. Flat design is in at the moment and that will probably continue because it’s aesthetically neutral enough to make a lot of sites work functionally, but expect the “wow” factor of sites to become more original than just slapping a few great photos up.

Solving ads on mobile

Some of the biggest websites are suffering horribly from screen clutter on mobile thanks to hovering ads, cookie declarations, full-page-covering email sign-ups and so on. We should see some progress as users revolt against layer overload and website design learns better how to integrate all these disparate parts together to form a website that gives both users and owners what they need.

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