As with fashion, web design trends have a lifespan. As people get tired of seeing the same old styles, site developers and web designers will try to test the waters and implement designs that move away from those popular concepts.
While most of those attempts to break free from convention don’t get very far, we’ll see some ideas get a good amount of traction. What’s more, a few of these “new” ideas are actually old ones that have finally found their moment.
Here are some new and old web design trends that just might make the mainstream in 2023.
1) Micro-animations and Video Backgrounds
Employing movement to drive conversions is not exactly new. The use of moving elements has come in and out of fashion in web design a few times over the decades.
In recent years, we’ve been seeing a growing number of sites employ more moving elements, particularly video backgrounds and micro-animations that indicate interactive elements.
These are used for increasing visual interest but they are also increasingly employed to help with UX and UI, often by encouraging visitors to take some kind of action.
The main issue with animations and videos is that, when not implemented properly, they can slow down site speed, often with catastrophic results for time on site and conversion rates. They may also pose challenges for mobile browsers and may make a site seem too busy for some visitors.
The wider availability of broadband internet and better mobile browsers has made some of these issues moot. However, it’s still important to be deliberate when employing moving elements to ensure the best UX. If you want videos and animations on your site, make sure to take steps to optimize your website’s loading speed.
2) Asymmetric Web Design
The symmetric single-column layout has dominated most of the 2010s for good reason. It offers easy navigability and fewer complications when adapting a site for mobile.
However, because so many sites use the same general layout, many site owners have grown dissatisfied with the overall sense of sameness. As a result, we’ve seen the web design pendulum swing the other way towards asymmetric layouts.
Asymmetric layouts can work well in making a website stand out in a sea of similar-looking single-column pages. The downside is that it generally takes a more experienced site designer to properly balance these types of design, particularly on mobile. Because of the nature of mobile browsing, we are likely to see more asymmetric designs on desktop sites where there are fewer UI constraints.
3) Dark Themes
Even though they had their advocates for decades, dark website themes were more of a niche option throughout most of the 2000s and 2010s.
Things have changed in favor of dark themes in recent years as more people are starting to be conscious of the supposed effects of bright screens and blue light on their wakefulness and sleep patterns.
Today, many popular applications and websites feature dark themes to help create a more relaxing UX and UI for visitors.
While this may have some implications for ecommerce websites that primarily rely on white backgrounds to better showcase their products, we will probably see dark themes continue to be popular well beyond 2023.
4) Smarter Chatbots
While recent surveys seem to show that most people prefer humans to chatbots for customer service concerns, this may only apply to more complex queries. Other surveys indicate that a majority of users will actually choose a chatbot over a human to save time.
The obvious way forward is, of course, to further refine the website chatbot experience so that more complex queries can be handled effectively.
This can be done today by using more effective customer service automation scripts. Larger businesses also have access to integrated artificial intelligence modules that use user and speech history to provide better service. These capabilities will doubtlessly become more accessible to SMEs with time.
5) Virtual and Augmented Reality
For decades, the integration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in everyday life seemed always just a little bit out of reach. Both have successfully been used for games but the idea of using them as a part of our lived online experiences seemed to be purely in science fiction until recently.
More ecommerce sites are using VR and AR to give prospective customers virtual showrooms that make it easier to experience products before purchase. While the implementation is often still quite clunky, we will probably see much more refined VR and AR on our favorite sites soon.
6) Horizontal Scrolling
On conventional mobile or desktop websites, we have to scroll down to access more information. If we think about it, this is quite different from how we read books and other conventional multi-page documents.
In the past couple of years, web designers have started to implement side-scrolling more and more into new site designs. This has a way of subverting expectations while offering an experience more similar to reading a book.
In this way, horizontal scrolling can make sites look fresh while also allowing the effective use of the horizontal real estate available on most modern computer monitors.
Side-scrolling also has plenty of potential for mobile designs. Apps like Instagram and Tinder have already been using side-scrolling effectively for years but it’s only recently that other sites and web apps started catching on.
Because side-scrolling is not the usual way online content flows, there is a cognitive cost for users who still overwhelmingly expect content to flow downward. But because of how it opens up the possibility of presenting more content for users, we may yet see more sites use side-scrolling in unexpectedly clever ways in 2023 and beyond.
7) Bespoke Graphics
The types of stock images and styles that used to be preferred in web design are starting to look a bit dated.
In particular, also, many people are already burnt out on the so-called “Corporate Memphis” design ethos that was popularized by Facebook and other tech giants. Site owners are now, more than ever, investing in custom graphics and artwork that look fresher and set them apart from the competition.
While going bespoke may be a more expensive way to get the visual assets you need, it’s clear that a growing number of site owners believe that the added distinctiveness is worth it.
Should You Jump On These Trends?
There is always an element of risk involved in trying something new. If you do want to switch up your desktop and mobile experience, it’s important to understand why it is you’re doing it.
Ask yourself if the proposed changes will work for your brand, improve your basic UX, and increase conversions. If the changes promise to do none of those, you should reconsider jumping onto these trends.
If those trends do show promise, however, you can greatly mitigate your risks by A/B testing new and old site designs before committing. Hiring the right web designers should also help improve the odds of your new site becoming a success.