10 web design trends you’ll actually see in 2015 (and how to survive them)

By Ben Moss Posted Jan. 08, 2015 Reading time: 5 minutes

This time last year I made 7 predictions for web design in 2014, with mixed results (I’m looking at you SVG). This year, I’ve sought out 10 web design trends that will be big in 2015, and what you need to survive them.

I’ve omitted predictions that are too obvious to include: mobile will continue to grow, large image backgrounds will be popular; instead I’ve focused on trends driven by three clear patterns in the current web design landscape: The growing influence of site-builders is forcing web designers to seek out unique craft skills; technology continues to roll onwards, influencing the sites we design; and some of the most established names on the Web have grown too unwieldy to keep pace with demand.

2015 will see a substantial overhaul in the technologies that we use and our resulting creative output. Let’s take a look at what’s coming soon to a browser near you, and how to get through to December with a portfolio bulging with fresh, exciting work…


1. Lettering

Lettering has been a huge trend for some time, but in 2015 it will grow beyond its hipster-coffeeshop faze and revert to the diverse technique it is.

where you see lettering you see a human being.

Lettering is, by definition, bespoke design work. There will never be a Google Lettering site to rival Google Fonts. Like the design world’s captcha, where you see lettering you see a human being. As such, this year lettering will develop as one of the key visual clues for distinguishing high-quality design, from ready-made templating.

Survival tip: Grab yourself a brush pen, watch some tutorials on YouTube, and remember: down thick, up thin.


2. Goodbye to IE

Knowing Microsoft, IE isn’t going anywhere soon, but it won’t be the company’s preferred browser for much longer: Microsoft are reportedly working on a lightweight Chrome-style browser named Spartan.

We all agree that IE6 is a terrible browser, and IE7 isn’t much better. However somewhere around IE10 Microsoft got with the program and IE11’s speed coupled with standards-compliance makes it one of, if not the, best browser in the world.  

What does this mean for Spartan? Well, it’s reasonable to assume that Spartan is being built with the same attitudes that have governed the development of IE11, and that means unprecedented support for newer CSS features. It’s also likely to finally push IE6 and IE7 off the cliff.

Survival tip: 2015 is the year we’ll finally stop supporting IE6 and IE7. Happy? You bet.


3. Micro-design

Responsive design has shaken up the Web in the last few years, and it shows no sign of being supplanted. However, responsive design presents a core set of problems that occur time and again, and web designers have begun to establish common design patterns to resolve those issues; leading to a degree of uniformity.

In 2015 we’ll continue to make use of popular design patterns, and many layouts will appear repetitive, so we’ll focus our creative energies on the smallest details of sites. Micro-copy is already de rigueur, and inspired by Google’s Material Design, micro-animation will be huge in 2015.

Survival tip: Micro-design is all about a consistent personality; focus on details, but ensure your approach is consistent.


4. The Internet of no thing

We’ve been talking about multi-device support for a couple of years, so it will come as something of a shock that the growth of the devices we’re supporting will slow significantly in 2015.

The next big step is the much lauded Internet of things, but we’re not ready for that leap yet. The clichéd example is the web-connected fridge, but seriously, how many phones have you owned since you last bought a fridge?

It will be some time before you see a waffle iron in your analytics.

With no consumer rush to embrace connected devices and drive the change, the Internet of things will arrive gradually over the next decade or more. It will be some time before you see a waffle iron in your analytics.

Survival tip: Don’t rush out and buy a smart watch (unless you want one) by the time its useful for testing it will be onsolete. The best approach is still platform-agnostic, responsive design.


5. Mobile video

Every aspect of the Web saw huge growth in video in 2014, not least advertising. The one area that lagged behind was mobile video.

Mobile struggles with video, especially for advertising, because the screen real-estate is limited, and too many designers producing video adverts are still relying on the SWF format. That will change in 2015 as the growing mobile web becomes increasingly profitable for big advertising campaigns.

Survival tip: We can deliver video to mobile, in a non-intrusive, standards-compliant way. We just need to stick to our guns and avoid taking the easy way out.


6. The decline of framework dominance

Last year I predicted a decline in jQuery’s fortunes, and that has largely been borne out, with more and more people favoring lighter, vanilla solutions. In 2015, the same will happen to frameworks.

That’s not to say that Bootstrap, Foundation et al. will disappear. Quite the contrary, I expect dozens more frameworks to be released in 2015, each one taking a smaller, specialized chunk of the market share.

Survival tip: Shop around and make sure you have more than one framework in your arsenal. If you’re not happy with any of the existing solutions, consider releasing your own, 2015 is the year to do it.


7. The beginning of the end for the old guard

Facebook began as a way for people with no friends to check what the friends they didn’t have were doing. It became the huge success that it is today because it was in tune with the zeitgeist. But the zeitgeist is fickle and 2015 will mark the end of Facebook’s dominance over the social networking world.

Of course, you shouldn’t expect to see Mark Zuckerberg crouched in a doorway clutching a sign reading, “Will poke for food” anytime soon. But as more and more companies offer social network-like experiences, and apps bridging the gap between the real and digital worlds, the original players will look less and less relevant.

Facebook isn’t the only major tech company to feel the pinch. Thanks in part to fresh rivals, and thanks in part to the dreadful #VATMOSS debacle, PayPal will see its market share decline over the next 12 months. Again, PayPal will still be here in December, but its outdated API and payment process will mean it struggles to compete with rivals like Stripe.

Survival tip: Expect to be asked to integrate more than just Facebook in the coming months; familiarise yourself with the Foursquare API. Consider switching simple e-commerce sites over from PalPal’s “Pay Now” buttons to more complete solutions like Shopify, especially for digital sales. 


8. Art direction

If lettering is a step away from site-builders, then art direction offers the opportunity to embrace them.

Art direction will become increasingly important in 2015 as clients continue the pick up templates for $5 and expect a professional result. The enhancement of mood, and brand through empathic use of images and copy will become bread and butter for designers as services like “PSD to HTML” become obsolete.

Survival tip: Sell your clients on an holistic approach to content, and be consistent with your message regardless of the format.


9. Pooled analytics

The Asimovian belief is that with a sufficiently large data set we can reliably predict user behaviour, so we’ll hear a lot more about big data in 2015. Google is already flirting with the technology with its Cloud Dataflow.

your site could soon become a revenue stream…

However, most of us run sites that receive a fraction of the traffic necessary for big data applications. Bridging the gap, 2015 will see a number of startups pooling site data, including analytics. What’s more, just as social networks sell information about you, your site could soon become a revenue stream simply by selling its analytics to interested parties.

Survival tip: Ensure you have an ethical privacy policy in place, and adhere to it.


10. SVG will (finally) take off

Every single year I predict that SVG will take off, and every single year I’m disappointed.

SVG is the perfect graphic format for the responsive web, and the current fashion for flat design is the ideal opportunity to embrace it.

Survival tip: Let’s make 2015 the year that SVG becomes the de facto image format for the Web, it’s entirely in our hands.


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Featured image, prediction image via Shutterstock