Technology is changing all the time. Web design trends come and go. Artificial intelligence is getting more clever day by day. As advances in technology continue to develop, so too does web design. It should come as no surprise then when we look into the crystal ball, we’ll see how web design is likely to evolve. Where will websites be in the next 5, or even 10, years? Let’s take a glimpse into the future and see…
The future of web design
The web design industry continually grows year upon year. Currently estimated to have a market value of around £575m, and around 4,318 are estimated to be employed by approximately 2000 web design companies in the UK. The industry is expected to continue growing, with an estimated growth of around 1.3% each year. As new and advanced technologies continue to improve, there’s a lot in store for the web design industry in the future.
Virtual reality and augmented reality
Virtual reality and augmented reality are already starting to gain a lot of interest, although their use in web design is still limited. Despite augmented making its way into popular social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram, it is still rarely used in web design.
A way of allowing users to superimpose a computer-generated image over the user’s view of the real world, augmented reality can provide unique and insightful experiences. Virtual reality, on the other hand, gives users the chance to interact and experience an entirely virtual environment.
At the moment, these technologies are rather limited. AR has suffered from falling by the wayside in the eyes of consumers, while VR has gained a reputation for being expensive with the perceived requirement of a dedicated headset. Only around 65% of people knew what AR is, compared to 90% who knew what VR is.
While these technologies are still growing, experts believe that they will shape the future of web design. It is believed that augmented reality may shape and change the marketing and e-commerce sectors, while virtual reality will help in creating unique experiences across the spectrum.
While VR does, in most cases, still require a headset, it won’t be long before you can step into a whole new virtual world without one. When tech giants, such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, are all investing in VR, it’ll be surprising if VR and AR don’t become the future of web design. Find out more about the future of VR in web design, including webVR.
You heard correctly, pageless websites. There’ll come a time when websites won’t have pages anymore… or, to put it more accurately, a single page. Some companies have started implementing this growing design trend.
Most websites are currently split into pages, with dedicated pages for different elements on the site, such as ‘about’ and ‘contact’. By splitting a website into pages, users can better navigate their way around and find what they are looking for. Something that helps boost your user experience (providing you make navigation quick and easy).
With the increasing use of mobile devices to access the web, many companies have worked at developing a responsive web design that adapts across desktop and mobile devices. Back in 2015, around 31.16% of users accessed the web through their mobiles. That has now increased to 54.4% in 2021. That number is expected to continue growing. By 2030, it could reach as high as 80%.
While responsive websites may be a big thing at the moment, if more people are accessing the web through mobile devices, web design will evolve to accommodate this. This is where pageless websites come in.
Pageless websites provide the entirety of website content on one single scrolling page, with navigation that links to the dedicated section on the page. The big advantage behind pageless websites is that it saves mobile users from navigating and can instead continually scroll. It’s all to do with the ‘thumb zone’.
The problem with pageless websites (or single page websites as some refer to them as) is that they can harm SEO. Having all your content on one single page makes it very difficult to optimise your content for different keywords. Until Google starts to update its algorithms to consider pageless websites, responsive web designs will have to do.
As pageless websites take a firm hold, CSS tricks such as smooth scrolling and parallax effects will gain more usage.
Voice interface and search
Chatbots are a big thing at the moment. As artificial intelligence continues to get clever, more companies are implementing chatbots into their web designs. In 2020, it was estimated that around 24.9% of websites use chatbots as a brand communication tool. An increase from 13% in 2019.
Chatbots play a significant role in altering a user’s experience. Not only can they help businesses cut costs and provide continual round the clock support to customers in real-time, but implementing a chatbot into your website can also provide interactive and engaging elements. Artificial intelligence has had a big impact on how websites are built and customised, as well as altering the user experience.
But there’s something else that’s influencing a rise in the usage of voice search and voice interface. Research has found that 71% of searchers prefer to perform search queries through voice-over typing. With other voice assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, also seeing increasing usage, voice search will soon become another feature of web design.
Currently, implementing voice search into a fully functional website is still in its infancy. As voice search continues to grow in popularity, web design will be impacted. On average, a person can speak 150 words per minute compared to only 40 words when typing.
For voice search to be successfully implemented into a web design, the following considerations need to be made:
- Content needs to be structured in a dialogue-friendly way
- Long-tail keywords should be targeted
- Mobile-first design
- Optimised content for local searches
As voice search and interface continue to grow and increase in usage, expect to see more web designs adopted in the future to make way for the rise of chatbots and voice search.
Google algorithm changes
Every so often, Google updates its algorithms to better improve the quality of its search engine and search results. No blog about the future of web design would be complete with even a mention of Google’s algorithm.
With every change to the search algorithms, a website’s ranking, is affected. An update in 2021, for example, called the Page Experience Ranking incorporated user experience as a ranking factor. Stronger spam measures will also help in providing much more reliable and worthwhile search results. Therefore, websites need to have a positive user experience to gain higher rankings.
Undoubtedly, as technologies continue to develop and evolve, and web design trends continue to change and adapt, so too will Google’s algorithms. Especially when updates happen so frequently nowadays, with around 4,500 changes made to searches in 2020 alone. Websites will have to continue developing to keep up with the ever-changing requirements for high search engine rankings.
Another big thing that’s just around the corner is the advent of 5G. With improved connections and faster speeds being the big talking points, 5G will have implications for the future of web design as well as phone networks.
With faster upload and download speeds, more stable connections, and much better coverage, 5G will help to improve and transform a user’s experience when browsing the web. 5G is expected to deliver speeds of around 10 to 20 times faster than the current 4G, meaning users can load web pages much quicker than ever before on their mobile devices.
With reduced latency, there’s next to no delay in receiving the information required for loading a web page. So, with faster page speeds, web designers can get a lot more creative and experimental without such a big fear of heavy loading speeds.
Once 5G takes hold, we expect to see much more creative and visually complex web designs. Much higher resolution pictures and videos will become the norm and could even stretch to 4K being a common feature in designs. More videos on homepages could also see a rise, helping to capture users’ attention. Not to mention more support for virtual and augmented reality that we mentioned earlier.
With more people using their smartphones to access the internet, web designers will need to explore options to create seamless experiences. With the much-increased loading times, users will come to expect and demand stronger online experiences. A more consistent user experience, without such a gap between desktop and mobile, will be made possible.
While many areas are still witnessing 3G, its important web designers do not get carried away and complete focus their attention on 5G. To begin with, 5G features will become optional until a much stronger network is implemented throughout the UK. Only until then will we start to witness what 5G has to offer.
Within the next 10 years, we fully expect that artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality will shape the future of web design. As artificial intelligence continues to grow and technologies become more advanced to allow for much more interactive and engaging websites, the user experience will continue to be at the forefront of web design. With the industry also expecting to grow year on year, the next decade is certainly an exciting one for the evolution of web design.