Designing patterns: the biggest web trend of 2015 so far

Ben Moss.
May 08, 2015
Designing patterns: the biggest web trend of 2015 so far.
2015 has inherited a lot of trends from previous years, there’s been a steady evolution of ideas — Flat Design into Material Design for example — but nothing as revolutionary as Responsive Design. However, we are starting to see trends that feel fresh, either through new treatments or because they’re genuinely new ways of approaching old problems. The most widespread of these so far, has been the use of patterns in web design. Patterns serve a variety of purposes, from communicating a brand value, to adding motion to an interface, to enlivening the simple blocks of color that flat design favors. And the use of patterns, although not scientifically categorizable, falls into one of five broad and inter-related categories…

Generative patterns

The combination of design and code that makes up the Web has meant that it was always going to be a fertile environment for generative art, and designers working with mathematics. From the earliest days of the Web designers were experimenting with particle systems, but in recent months we’ve seen an increasing emphasis on particles existing within a more formal pattern. These geometric patterns are a natural evolution of the form, thanks to the fact that it relies so heavily on design units and code loops. What’s really new is that, in 2015 we’re increasingly seeing businesses adopt these kinds of pattern as an integral element of their brand. 001_prizmaspace 002_giantsteps 007_poke 003_jam3 004_fornasetti

Data patterns

Business’ ongoing preoccupation with the concept of big data, is increasingly being visualized as patterns, despite the fact that big data is very unlikely to yield a shell-like pattern. This idea of simple mathematical forms being found amongst complex data is inextricably linked to the idea of knowledge, power, and insight. Companies that want to appear to have a unique understanding of an abstract concept like to employ the metaphor. This, coupled with the growth of SaaS (Software as a Service) when businesses are selling not a product but an abstract concept, has lead to a rash of sites featuring the kind of pattern that a kid with a Spirograph would be proud of. 005_plaid 006_optimizely 008_acorns

Craft patterns

2015 has been tipped for some time as the year that analog crafts make their way back into design portfolios, and patterns are playing a big role in that. Whether they’re geometric, or more organic, patterns that break the digital mold emphasise a craft skill and speak to design authenticity. The key with this type of pattern is the variation in repetition, which adds a warm, human element to the design. 009_craft 010_echo 011_forbettercoffee

Animation patterns

Patterns don’t simply repeat visually. For years designers have been looping animated GIFs to create a repeating pattern over time. This technique is increasingly being used in conjunction with SVG to produce epic, engaging animations that are still practical on a mobile connection. The repetition of this kind of pattern varies, from a looping background to a series of animations running together at different rates to create an infinitely changing pattern of movement. In 2015, as mobile continues to grow, looping SVGs provides a practical way to enliven an animation without compromising on speed. 012_greenman 013_rallyinteractive 014_fieldwork

Grid patterns

Patterns have always been an integral part of Web design, as witnessed by the fact that we could tile a background in CSS before we could position an element. In the last year, we’ve started to see designers playing with traditional patterns, and especially the grid, to enliven designs. Elements are placed outside of a formal grid, but follow the same pattern of repetition. or the grid itself is highlighted with the color blocking favored by Flat Design aficionados. 015_carbure 016_residence-mixte 017_aark 019_offprint

Ben Moss

Ben Moss has designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. When he’s not in front of a screen he’s probably out trail-running.

Read Next

20 Best New Websites, July 2024

Welcome to July’s round up of websites to inspire you. This month’s collection ranges from the most stripped-back…

Top 7 WordPress Plugins for 2024: Enhance Your Site's Performance

WordPress is a hands-down favorite of website designers and developers. Renowned for its flexibility and ease of use,…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, July 2024

Welcome to this July’s collection of tools, gathered from around the web over the past month. We hope you’ll find…

3 Essential Design Trends, July 2024

Add some summer sizzle to your design projects with trendy website elements. Learn what's trending and how to use these…

15 Best New Fonts, June 2024

Welcome to our roundup of the best new fonts we’ve found online in the last month. This month, there are notably fewer…

20 Best New Websites, June 2024

Arranging content in an easily accessible way is the backbone of any user-friendly website. A good website will present…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, June 2024

In this month’s roundup of the best tools for web designers and developers, we’ll explore a range of new and noteworthy…

3 Essential Design Trends, June 2024

Summer is off to a fun start with some highly dramatic website design trends showing up in projects. Let's dive in!

15 Best New Fonts, May 2024

In this month’s edition, there are lots of historically-inspired typefaces, more of the growing trend for French…

How to Reduce The Carbon Footprint of Your Website

On average, a web page produces 4.61 grams of CO2 for every page view; for whole sites, that amounts to hundreds of KG…

20 Best New Websites, May 2024

Welcome to May’s compilation of the best sites on the web. This month we’re focused on color for younger humans,…

Has AI Killed User Testing?

Web designers employ user testing to evaluate a website’s functionality and overall UX (user experience). Various…