Guest Post by Chuck Longanecker
In January of each year, we flip over the hourglass and, once again, we have everything in front of us. The new year gives us a clean slate, a chance for change and encouragement to evolve the way we do things. In the past, we’ve yielded to client and user requests to pack our website designs full of unrelated features and countless pages of duplicate information. The change we have been waiting for has come – our users have matured. 2010 is the year of Design Simplicity.
There are many design trends this year, however, I feel it is important to focus specifically on the movement of Design Simplicity. In fact, as the web evolves, it is our responsibility as designers to keep the order of things. This means fewer pages, less clicks, less clutter and more whitespace. In 2010, clean is King and our users are asking for it. I don’t blame them. With access to an increasing amount of information on the web everyday, our attention span is naturally diminishing. Now, more than ever, design needs to engage the user, provide succinct information and allow them to go on their merry way. Who knows, maybe airlines and banks will even clean up their 1990s design.
Now Design Simplicity does not mean removing functionality or access to information. This trend of simplicity is not as easy as reducing the elements and content in your user interface. To achieve the less is more effect, you have to develop a valuable user experience by utilizing a creative toolset. Think of the iPhone – the greatest innovation in modern mobile phones has only one button.
Each time a visitor clicks deeper into your site, a fraction of their interest dies. With the evolution of users, you can get to the point quickly. So in order to keep visitors’ attention, many designers are providing access to the core items needed to make an impression front and center. Think of the homepage as the main interface to all of the website’s content.When you start to layer some of the below items on the list including sliders, modal boxes and toolbars, you can provide pages of information without clicking off the page. iPhone App websites are a great example of single page websites in action.
Sliders are a great way to provide indirect and precise content through a simple and visual interface. Instead of giving users heavy navigational options and a smorgasbord of direct content, I expect to see more content available indirectly with the use of slider and decision tree logic on the homepage or main pages of the site. This provides a more distinct website path and an appropriate experience for each user type.
Modal boxes, inherited from the dying desktop software standard, allow users to interact with the site without interrupting the flow of their experience. Why take the user to a separate page to login or watch a video when you can pop it up instantly on the current layout? Modal boxes will continue to spread in usage and functionality. Expect to see modal boxes used for data input forms, lead generation, account settings and more.
Continuing on the path of desktop/web app convergence, smart navigation and taskbars will dynamically shape the user experience. Smart navigation consolidates large categories of content and displays meta data to help determine the best path of navigation. Taskbars allow you to seamlessly interact with web content and enable websites to learn your preferences.
Reuters utilizes both to maintain a simple but powerful interface. Mouse over one of the four navigational items and get live market info or news before choosing your next page. The taskbar allows you to save, watch or read specific content or topics like a feedreader.
Clever use of typography will continue to gain momentum this year thanks to the original influence of designers like 37signals. The proper use of large and bold typography provides a clean and clear message and can, at times, be more compelling than imagery. In some cases, design will see subtle imagery supporting the typography. When you really need to get your point across, you can’t beat words.
As monitor size and screen resolution increases so does the real estate for page layout design. This doesn’t mean that we should be laying claim to every available pixel out there. Instead it gives more room for whitespace so designs can present a clear message.
Here are a few items I see when I look into my crystal ball. That doesn’t mean they will happen, but here’s to hoping.
It’s great that today’s smartphones can view webpages in their standard web format, however, it’s just not an optimal experience for most websites due to screen size. I think all websites should auto-format based on the viewing device. Gmail, Facebook and Amazon have already taken on this standard. There are great tools out there such as Mobify that enable easy and inexpensive ways to achieve this. I believe that this will lead to more design agencies specializing in only the mobile format.
Live search and filtering powered by AJAX have been present for some time in websites like kayak.com or Google Suggest. However, there are still many verticals that have not yet adapted this intuitive selection process. eCommerce websites should give users control of their shopping experience by allowing them to tweak their search results based on their preferences – color, price, social graph, size, features…etc. Right now, sites like Amazon force users to browse all results based on category or search term and then sort.They give users static results that equire additional searching or copious browsing to refine. The browsing aspect of an online store can be changed to a tweak by implementing AJAX sliders, checkboxes and other filtering inputs that enable the user to narrow down the results that suit them best. Users would spend their time tweaking a large pool of products to find the one that fits all their criteria instead of having to examine each product individually or use product comparison engines.
Other than eCommerce sales, forms are the number one source of user action on the web. The more intelligent and user-friendly forms become, the better results of their conversions. Forms will continue to be more customized to user input. Forms already feature a lot of on the fly validation to correct errors such as improperly formatted email addresses before submittal. I believe that forms should continue to evolve and adapt to user input. Expect to see forms add, change or remove fields based on certain types of input such as gender, age or preference. This allows the website to better cater to the needs and experience of the user and gather more appropriate information. It should also reduce form bounce rates as they are more customized to the user type.
Chuck Longanecker is founder and CEO of digital-telepathy. To see his latest project, SlideDeck, please visit www.slidedeck.com.
Great summary, simple is always better!
Loved the post. ( as always ).
The only problem is to get the clients to the point where they will accept the idea that the web is evolving, and so should they.
Great post! I’m all for clean, uncluttered web design that is intuitive to use. I agree with your wish for a mobile version of every site, and I would add to that “accessibility”! The baby that’s being thrown out with the bathwater. My main focus this year will be adding accessibility to every site I develop.
Always enjoy reading these kind of posts!
Awesome post thanks! I still think several of these are trends that were big in 2009 but I agree they will be around this year also!
Well, I think you’re right. But i still love the websites i can click through
to see something different and new on every site. It’s some sort of adventure for me. Sometimes, making too many reductions, isn’t the best way to fulfil the statement: “simple is always better”.
Hope there’ll be still some adventures waiting for me in the www.
Thanks for this post, it was an interesting read. Keep up the greatness!
New York Web Design
wow thanks for sharing this. It was fun reading your post..
Well said. I agree we must design clean, usable, accessible interfaces that guide the user without excess clutter. The goal is to get as many designers/developers, and clients, to embrace these principles.
Very nicely written. It’s interesting to see how most of these come back to tweaks we can employ to improve the user experience.
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Beautiful round up, I am loving the jQuery comment preview you have here! Sorry that distracted me, which brings me onto my point! I hope to see less distraction in web and application development in 2010.
It would be great to see UX developers working harder to curb, but also enrich the requirements of the marketing and sales departments to create balanced interfaces.
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Great collection of trends. It will be interesting to see what the next big thing is, and how we can use it to better our users’ experience and our design and development skills.
Nice article Nick. Bookmarked :)
Sorry: “Nice article Chuck” :)
I also love simplistic web designs, but I think more populated designs (such as this site) is still great to look at as well.
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Love it, that’s the way I like to work! Great article!
Re: Modal forms – Drupal 7 is going all modal for admin overlays… just sayin’
great article. I could not agree more about the desire for a great mobile version of every website. I’m really enamored by the iphone version of appleinsider.com. awesome work there. not just a mobile-optimized site, but also some kick-butt iphone functionality integrated.
In a world where sharing is the keystone of social networking one page sites are a stupid idea. If a site has very little information, a promotional brochure-ware site for example, then one page with content might be just fine, but for a site with any content depth at all preventing people from linking to specific content is a pointless, if not detrimental, restriction.
Couldn’t agree more with this phrase “In 2010, clean is King”
In principle a trend for simplicity sounds good. But I’m afraid that in a year or eighteen months it will have degenerated into bland, lazy, homogeneous design. Not too convinced that 2010 is going to be a great year for web design – not from an aesthetic perspective, anyway.
Love the principles and agree that it’s the right direction to be moving, just wish we could get clients to agree every time!
Do not forget cu3er!
Great info overall. Only problem I have with it is the slider example — in my book, sideways-rotated text is an absolute no-no. It shouldn’t require any conscious effort to read site content, especially important navigation elements.
The above “slider” isn’t a slider at all. It’s an accordion. A slider is a handle used to adjust a value (usually for a form), or other options.
Otherwise, solid list.
This is the last site that an article about simple, clean design should ever appear on ;) but still, a great read (and for the record I am still in awe of this site’s design)
Clean/Simple does not necessarily mean bland and boring. We tend to associate that with white and white can be taken as either, but look at twitter. It isn’t boring (at least I don’t think it is) and it does what it needs to very well.
Simplicity as far as I am concerned is about removing the superfluous and not letting aesthetics replace the fundamentals. Like building a house with no foundations I suppose. The basics much be sound before making something pretty. That is the whole point of wireframing. So I suppose instead of clean, the trend should be good.
These are all things that web design sorely needs. As the web grows, so does the sense of information overflow we experience when browsing. The last thing a user wants to see if yet another site chock full of pointless stock photography, cramped, small font text and flashing ads. Sites with clean designs will ultimately benefit from higher traffic and leads than their more ‘busy’ counterparts, is my bet.
Thanks for this post. Very useful for me.
thx your sharing…
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hmmmm! means more precise…
Great article. UX and improved UI is definitely something that I’m going to be improving constantly with my project management app: http://projectbubble.com thanks for writing. Stu.
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Ohh I like the idea of single page web sites. I have actually found myself doing that recently. A lot can be said on a page, so if it is a simple product or service why not just use a few modal boxes for the standard contact form and about the company and get down to he nuts and bolts of the site.
Nice post, thanks!
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I’d like any of them but if there is a choice the – Fx!
Great read, I loved the hint about airlines and banks. And you are right, typography is coming back and it’s getting better and better.
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Text Is The New Image: I totally agree, and I’ve been pussing this agenda since 2003.
Not sure about the first one: single page websites. While it may become a trend, it’s not the best practice for SEO. Brands will have to invest more money in traditional advertising or push really hard in social media to send people to these one page sites, because they won’t show up for much in Google searches.
it’s a shame there is still no real importance placed on multilingual content and how to integrate that properly into the UX/UI. Putting a link or two on the side just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Excellent summation and comprehensive overview of what we’ve been seeing out there. And I’m with you on the Ecommerce Tweaker Shopping – the psychology of wanting me to see more choices usually ends up ensuring I give up and don’t buy anything.
Annoyingly, many websites (including certain popular social networking sites) rely on JS to the point that if it’s not available for whatever reason (no device support, to disable intrusive ads or any other reason), you end up with a broken UI and a much reduced UX.
On the large screen point, we’re seeing wider use of small devices (smartphones, netbooks) for web browsing. Best thing will be to see websites designed and coded so that they look just fine on a small screen but can fill available space on a larger screen. That’s a trend I’d like to see.
Thanks to everyone for all the great comments, suggestions and ideas. How did I forget iPad optimized sites! J/K…
I would also like to mention the trend of iterative design. This is different from the ever-changing design that you see on high fashion sites. Users have became more receptive to subtle design optimization. Depending on the content and goal of the website, the look and feel can evolve. This doesn’t mean packing on unnecessary features or slapping in more social media tools. It’s understanding your users, the flow of your site and results you are looking for to grow the design over time.
In the future, I would like to see more website evolutions and less website redesigns.
Re: Mobile Version Of Every Website
I am not a big fan of web sites that send you straight to their mobile version when I look them up with the iPhone.
My phone gives me the ability to browse most sites easily, despite the smaller size. If you send me to your, often reduced, mobile site I get pissed off. Give people the choice, but don’t patronise them.
I was shocked to discover even the BBC does this. To get back to the ‘desktop’ version of the site you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. Very bad style.
Worst no-no: links from Google to specific pages are redirected to your mobile homepage, from where you then must look for the page you wanted to go to.
I have a real issue with some of the elements described in this article. First of all the vertical text on the slider is an absolute usability no-no, as are modal dialog boxes. Another sad trend that is being promoted here are large area designs. For once people are actually viewing web pages on smaller and smaller screens. The large screens sitting on our desktop are being used less and less. The web more than anything else has become a development platform. People are moving away from kitschy designs and towards sleek usable interfaces. Websites are now expected to be used and manipulated not just fawned over for their artistic elegance.
Great post. We think that 2010 will be the year for keeping it simple too and getting back to the basics! http://bit.ly/b3lIC8
I’m with Beluga; I hate web sites that redirect me to their mobile site. I’d rather have the regular site every time.
Good insight to the next decade and UX/UI trends.
It definitely takes a lot more skill and thought to pull off that less is more in design while being able to retain all the content while still offering easy navigation.
I haven’t really tried to make a website that is adapted to the mobile browsers as well as dabble too much in forms. This article definitely has put those elements on my radar to enhance and include in my projects.
I agree! That appears to be the direction that a great deal of sites have taken coming into 2010. eCommerce Tweaker shopping may be a wish though (a nice one at that).
Thanks, great post, theres a lot to learn in this post,
very well summed up, excellent observation on the new trends , loved every bit of it, impressive and informative.
Very useful guide. Some interesting insights here. Especially like the points raised around search result filtering. Let’s hope more eCommerce sites will begin to adapt in this way.
I think you are right. I have already started moving toward more simple designs with less pages and integrating jQuery to allow for more information on one page without too much scrolling.
In this article i liked the idea “Mobify” websites. Interesting fact that in future every one go for ask a mobile version of their website. The article is very informative. Thanks.
i really would like a mobile version for all sites. it just bothers me that most of my preferred sites dont have a mobile version.
the basic technical difficulties: high latency even over 3G+. lack of fluid html navigation, no special usability, data oriented possibilities. however flash 10.1 will change all this. (on iPhone you will get a special app for flash sites, cant go hand in hand with safari).
but chris is right. we’ll see more sophistication in 2010, kitschy just dose not work anymore. you must offer a tool defining your company and letting the user to actually USE you. if this cant be done, you just have to go with special effects.
ps: this site is just on the verge of being kitschy but still pleasant, maybe in 2011 you’ll have to update.
i really would like a mobile version for all sites. it just bothers me that most of my preferred sites dont have a mobile version.
This is a good overview. You could also include facebook style footer admin panels in this list. Being able to give the user the option to “show” or “hide” a utilities section at their own will and having quick access to common tasks. Soh Tanaka has a great tutorial on facebook style footer admin panels: http://www.sohtanaka.com/web-design/facebook-style-footer-admin-panel-part-1/
Great post! it is very special an interesting. Well done!
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I wish that I-phones could play flash. Hopefully apple will accomodate for that.
thanks alot for sharing
excellent examples, thanks for posting this!
nice info, thanks for sharing :)
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100% right. i have done some these kind of app . send me more information about this
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nice info…thanks for sharing…
IE 8 doesn’t support sliders apparently. this makes me sad.
Thank you for this excellent post. Can I refer to you in my blog- I will add your name and a link to this page if it is okay?
Good to know the latst trends in web design! Tx for sharing!
Great post!This makes my job a lot easier when im presenting the latest trends to top leaders in my company. Now I finally have a source document to back me up when designing new sites!Thanks!
Good post! thanks for such info.
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In a nutshell what you are saying the sites are becoming hub based sort of what M$ did with its “Windows Phone 7” interface. I think does make sense to display core items on front page.
Valuable and very helpful information you have shared. I will use it in nearer future. Thanks for sharing such a great things.
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I agree simplicity is the best :)
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That’s Great! Thanks for the post!
I agree simplicity is the best
EXCELLENT info, thanks! Finally, DESIGN is KING! ;)
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What to Expect in 2010: UX/UI Design Simplicity – A great resource.Thanks for the info.
There are many design trends this year, however, I feel it is important to focus specifically on the movement of Design Simplicity.
Now Design Simplicity does not mean removing functionality or access to information. This trend of simplicity is not as easy as reducing the elements and content in your user interface.
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I’m all for clean and simple. I use these words in my webcopy quite a few times. I believe that getting rid of the clutter makes happier people of us all.
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I like the single and larger page layouts, they definitely are easier to navigate- for me anyway. I just read an article recently that suggested people streamline their sites to make them more easily navigable on mobile devices, which I think is a great idea!
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Great article, most points are still relevant although I am glad that the single page website has not taken off as anticipated.
You can’t go wrong with a clean, simple layout
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