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» » How Web Design Will Change by 2020

How Web Design Will Change by 2020

13-07-2016, 18:19
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Trends in web design are always coming and going. Take a look at any site from 1996 and compare it to a website from today, and you’ll be stunned at how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time. Thanks to the exponential development of increasingly powerful and inexpensive technologies, and in part due to the fact that web design is still a relatively new medium, web design continues to go through a massive overhaul every few years. It’s true that some users slow down this rate of development, lagging behind in adoption of even basic technologies, but the general course of development is impressively fast.

How Web Design Will Change by 2020

The Futility of Predicting Design Trends

Because design changes so fast and so responsively to other variables, it’s almost impossible to accurately predict how it’s going to develop in the future—even just a few years from now. All it will take is one new app, one new consumer report, or one maverick web designer to turn the industry on its head. After all, innovations tend to be driven by the unexpected.

However, it’s still valuable to attempt to make predictions—if for no other reason than to inspire the mavericks. Keeping predictions high-level (focused on concepts rather than formal constructs), we can chart many potential courses for future development and still gain value. Accordingly, this article will seek to make predictions, not based on how design itself will develop, but based on what influencers will shape the future of web design—and how they might do so.

Design Trend Influencers

Keep an eye on these web design influencers as they gradually impact new trends:

  1. Virtual reality. Virtual reality is shaping the way that users interact with digital information and media already. Users can become fully immersed in an environment, engaging with it in new and unique ways—even to a significant enough extent that it causes motion sickness in some users. Users will soon start demanding more immersive, engaging experiences—and average websites will need to start delivering.

  2. Augmented reality. Virtual reality and augmented reality may seem like two sides of the same coin (thanks to that operative word, "reality.” However, augmented reality will have a very different effect on web design. Whereas virtual reality is all about immersion and engagement, augmented reality is all about connecting the digital and physical worlds. In a sense, this could fundamentally change the way we think about and use the Internet in general, and again, web design will need to leap forward if it wants to keep up.

  3. Apps replacing websites. Already, we’re beginning to see the popularity of mobile apps starting to overtake traditional websites. Apps can be downloaded and stored on a device, and accessed quickly, without the need to go through the process of opening a browser or search engine. Thanks to Google’s efforts in deep linking app content, and even app streaming, apps are becoming an even more integrated part of the web, and users may start making a full transition from traditional websites to app experiences.

  4. New devices. Smartphones have been popular for nearly a decade now, but we’ve seen a number of hybrid forms arrive on the market, to varying degrees of success. Tablets, and the resulting hybrids like tablet/laptops and phablets, as well as wearable technology like smart watches, have attempted to emerge as the next "big” device. But none have caught on as ubiquitously as the smartphone. The next new device to spark this level of popularity will bear a massive impact on the world of web design.

  5. Consumer reluctance. Finally, general consumer reluctance to adopt new technologies could influence the rate at which web design trends take off. It’s important not only to recognize what new technologies and consumer behaviors are developing, but also the pace at which they are developing. Knowing that consumers may, one day, accept apps more than traditional websites is valuable, but what happens if you pivot your strategy several months—or even years—before that transition takes place? You need to account for the adoption curve as it relates to these influencers, which is extremely challenging, even for industry experts.

What can you do with these predictions? That depends. You could "flag” these influencers and keep a close eye on how they develop, giving you an edge against the competition when new design possibilities emerge to accommodate or respond to them. You could also take a rebellious stance, hoping to become a maverick in your own right byfinding tangential paths or defying norms to set your own precedents and trends. It’s up to you—either way, understanding the course of future development can be a major benefit to you and your brand. 

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