Web design trends to follow in 2022
As digital marketing innovates and strides ahead, so too must web design. Especially in the post-COVID-19 era, web designers must account for shifting audience behaviors, more complex customer journeys, and enticing aesthetics. To address all 3, let us explore web design trends to follow in 2022, and why they warrant your attention.
Web design and the changing user
With each passing year, web design seems to continue to evolve in pursuit of perfection. However, these past years have presented exceptional circumstances; a global pandemic drastically changed the average internet user’s behavior. Combined with the ever-expanding global penetration of mobile devices and Google’s ever-evolving algorithms, these circumstances necessitate data-driven decisions.
Thus, webmasters, designers, and marketers alike cannot simply rely on trends and truisms. Rather, they need to accurately pin down their changing user to readjust to them.
User engagement metrics
To do so, you may begin to monitor the behavior of your users. Fortunately, the market offers ample tools to do so, as well as professionals and agencies that offer this service.
Engagement metrics to begin acquiring insights through include:
- Page views – how many views does a given page get? How many of them are return visits?
- Bounce rates – how often do visitors bounce? Are there specific exit pages with higher bounce rates?
- Time on page – how much time do visitors spend on a page?
With engagement metrics in hand, you may then delve deeper into activity metrics. Heat maps of different types will offer options for specific metrics.
Activity metrics, in this context, include:
- Scrolling – how far do visitors scroll? Scroll heat maps explore this metric.
- Clicking – where do visitors click? Click and touch heat maps can reveal this.
- Hovering – where do visitors’ mice hover? Hover heat maps delve into this metric.
Finally, with all of the above in mind, you may examine SEO under the same scope. SEO does overlap with web design already, but in this context, it can provide invaluable insights.
SEO metrics that overlap with the above and warrant attention include:
- Best and worst pages – which pages get the most engagement, and which are the top exit pages?
- Lead acquisition – generation aside, how many visitors actually become qualified leads?
- Conversion rates – which landing pages are your best and worst converters?
Evidently, all 3 of the above overlap somewhat. They all intend to serve the same purpose, after all; to understand your user and help you design around them.
Web design trends to follow in 2022: functionality
With the above context in mind, let us now delve into functionality goals web design must cater to in 2022. Functionality and user experience continue to dominate digital marketing, and for good reason, so this section only reinforces established trends.
Predictably, mobile-friendliness will remain a core web design tenet. Google’s mobile-first indexing prioritizes “the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking”, and has done so since 2018. Moreover, mobile device users continue to grow, and increasingly more shoppers shop using mobile devices. Thus, web design in 2022 can only continue to embrace the mobile-first philosophy it has adopted in recent years.
Mobile-friendliness continues to dominate SEO and user demands, so it must inform web design in 2022.
Similarly, responsiveness will continue to necessitate design simplicity, cached content, code simplifications, and other established practices. This is not simply because mobile users continue to expect it, but also because Google’s Core Web Vitals do too. Specifically, they stress First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) as predominant indicators of interactivity and visual stability, respectively. These metrics will inform expected UX, so designers can’t afford to overlook them going forward.
#3 Loading speed
Finally, overlapping with mobile-friendliness to an extent, blazing loading speeds will remain equally crucial. Not only do Core Web Vitals dictate it through Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), but users do too. Google/SOASTA’s 2017 research found a direct correlation between loading speeds and bounce rates, and recent research still supports this conclusion. Finally, page loading speeds remain a central SEO metric as well, so web designers can afford no compromises on speeds.
Web design trends to follow in 2022: aesthetics
Nonetheless, one cannot forego aesthetics either. The very basics of web design hold that aesthetics directly affect UX, purchasing decisions, and even perceptions of functionality.
This element of web design is, of course, highly subjective. It’s thus advisable to consult your own analytics and insights, as well as conduct A/B testing to solidify your choices, rather than follow industry trends uncritically. That said, web design trends do outline a specific theme worth noting.
#1 White space and optimism
Likely unsurprisingly, modern audiences seem to value white space in both its forms. Namely, micro-white space between lines and paragraphs, and macro-white space within page layouts – as IxDF accurately defines them.
This does have a functional aspect as well, as proper use of white space makes content more readable. At the same time, however, white space and overall cheerful designs also play into the psychology of colors. In such stressful times, it’s arguably among the most logical design trends to emerge yet.
White space serves to satisfy both aesthetics and functionality, so it will continue to warrant your attention.
Along similar lines, minimalism shows no signs of losing popularity. This too we may attribute to ease of content consumption, as minimalist designs are easier on the eyes. That said, however, it also seems to be that minimalism carries connotations of professionalism. Perhaps the functionality benefits it provides, such as easier navigation to CTAs, implicitly creates this perception. Whatever the case might be, it seems that minimalism will remain a safe design choice.
#3 Discreet details
That said, minimalism does not necessitate less work than busy, extravagant, or bold designs. This is indeed a common misconception, but users do see through lack of effort. Therefore, it is discreet details that will truly let minimalism produce its benefits.
To be specific, such details include:
- Layering and shadows
- Floating elements
- Gradients and color highlights
Of course, as stressed above, your own unique audiences should inform your final aesthetics decisions.
Web design trends to follow in 2022: user experience
Finally, we may delve into the vast concept of the user experience. Web design ultimately seeks to transform your website into a potent marketing tool, and that hinges on UX.
That said, UX is such a broad topic we cannot reasonably cover it in its entirety here. We can, however, explore the 3 most fundamental UX elements web design can facilitate.
#1 Personalized content
Personalized content is far from a new concept; websites have used browsing history and location data to serve appropriate content for ages. Curiously, however, this once-controversial practice now sees wide acceptance, as users see it can notably enhance their UX. What’s more, for webmasters, it offers a natural extension of SEO practices, as it helps nudge visitors along their customer journey and deeper into the sales funnel. Thus, this trend will more than likely continue strong into 2022, benefitting both parties involved.
#2 Ease of navigation
Similarly, ease of navigation follows functionality and even mobile-friendliness specifically. Modern audiences leave cluttered websites much more easily than before, and perhaps understandably so. What’s more, ease of navigation does project professionalism almost by definition, as it illustrates your design skills in action. To address this factor, consider such elements as:
- Drop-down menus – as mobile devices lack screen real estate, drop-down menus offer an excellent navigational asset.
- Breadcrumbs – engaged visitors may visit multiple pages per session, so navigational breadcrumbs can offer a tremendous UX enhancement.
- HTML sitemaps – the visual roadmaps of your site, HTML sitemaps both facilitate easier navigation and exhibit your site’s robust structure.
Ease of navigation benefits all visitors, but especially the expanding demographic of mobile visitors.
Finally, as global internet penetration grows, so too do audiences with various disabilities. Catering to this expanding demographic is not simply an ethical imperative either – in many countries and jurisdictions, it is a legal one, such as in the US due to ADA. Finally, business-wise, it presents more opportunities for revenue. Between all 3 of these factors, accessible web design will undoubtedly continue to grow in 2022.
To ensure accessibility, you may consider such features and elements as the following:
- Image alt. texts – SEO usefulness aside, image alt. texts help screen readers convey images to visually impaired visitors.
- Keyboard focus – many assistive technologies rely on navigation using only the Tab key. Facilitating this through keyboard focus on your site’s main elements will also consolidate your overall design structure, benefitting all visitors.
- Color choices – visually impaired visitors may find page elements less readable due to color choices and similar hues bleeding into one another. To begin addressing this, you may simply review your pages in monochrome and reexamine your color choices accordingly.
For more detailed solutions toward ensuring web accessibility, you may also consult W3C’s database.
To summarize, web design trends to follow in 2022 span across functionality, aesthetics, and the user experience. Fast loading speeds, minimal designs, and easy navigation will continue to produce notable benefits as regards all 3, and should thus serve as a safe, solid foundation for future innovation.