Web Trends Are No Longer Trending
Web Trends articles were once the rage toward the end of each year. Web Design blogging gurus would consider what the new year would bring in terms of design focus. Then, armed with their best guesses, they publish their thoughts.
“The Web Is In A Constant State Of Evolution”
We have been saying, “The web is in a constant state of evolution”, for some time, but it is really not a characteristic of the web, only. We are seeing this with Search and Social, as well.
This year, as we began to contemplate what changes we may see in the new year with regard to the web, we realized something. We realized that web trends forecasting is obsolete.
We begin our yearly task by reviewing other design blogs to see if they have yet published their thoughts. Generally, we open our latest forecast of web trends with a review of our previous year’s thoughts. Many web trends bloggers approach their yearly posts in much the same manner.
This year, we started our process the same as we always have. It was then that we noticed the web trends ‘trend’ had evolved itself into obsolescence.
Web Trends Rehash And Copycats
In 2016, we put together what happens to have been our last Web Trends forecast. Looking back, we did a pretty good job in hitting on a lot trends that have shown up in many competitors’ lists for 2018. It seems they’re a day late and a dollar short, as it were.
Let’s take a look at a few…
There is always a lot of talk about ‘Mobile First’ among the design bloggers. With the web hitting 70% overall traffic through mobile devices, we predicted 2017 would be the start of ‘Mobile Only’ initiatives. We said 2017 would be the beginning of the movement.
We talked about web brutalism and customized identities through design for 2017. We see bloggers mentioning this in their web trends for 2018. Again, we were ahead of the curve.
In 2017’s web trends, we discussed more video. Video is a strong search signal for Google and it is a highly consumable content type. Our prediction was nothing more than confirming what many could easily see as the natural course.
In previous years’ posts we have discussed typography, minimalism, photography and many others that are now primary points for 2018 by a slew of design bloggers.
Look at all the posts out there. It has devolved into a slug fest of unoriginality, and we were beginning to become as guilty as the rest, even while we were quite original most of the time.
We began looking at this year’s research for our 2018 predictions around October. We have been dragging our feet as we looked at the slew of articles being published with so many copycats and rehashing of the past. We felt it was time to recognize the reality of the status of our industry.
The Web Has Evolved
The web is no longer about design for the sake of looking good, nor is it about competing without purpose. The web is about presenting information effectively and tapping into the human psyche, and now the consumer and business owner dictate the purpose of the web.
For the business owner the purpose is about generating leads and cash, while for the consumer it is about a simple and uneventful journey to information, products and services.
The web design business has eroded over time. WordPress themes, Wix and other web assembly tools have made it easier for lay people to build their own websites with a great degree of quality. In fact, with plugins we can now easily add complex functions like calendars, forms and other interactions.
Today, the web is more about assembly than “from the ground, up” construction.
What Does The Evolution Mean For Web Designers?
As the focus turns toward purpose and intent on the web, we are seeing a shift in the necessary roles to help us meet the expectations. Site owners will want to maintain a unique look when it comes to the videos, photos and illustrations used on their sites. However, the construct of the site such as navigation, layout and footers can be familiar to others leveraging design patterns.
Because the focus is much less on custom design, we will see the Designer role move to an experience role. User Experience is more important, and understood, than ever before. Of course, those that know us know that we hate the use of the word “User.” In today’s purpose drive internet, these are customers. The better term would be “Customer Experience.” For this post, we’ll refer to them with the more common term.
User Experience Analysts are responsible for the journey of the site visitor. The SEO’s are responsible for bringing qualified traffic to a site. The SEO’s, in partnership with the UX Analysts, are responsible for taking those visitors and converting them to paying customers. UX Analysts’ tools include interface and design elements to help to improve the overall experience and draw the visitors to becoming customers. The SEOs’ tools include structural, content and backlinking considerations. However, data is the primary tool of the successful SEO. Data is used to strategize functionality to ensure the site is intuitive and effective to gleen information or to make a purchase.
What Does Google Trends Say About This?
Google Trends is a tool provided by Google that allows input of topics and keywords. Upon submittal, Google Trends returns a view of search volume and popularity over a chosen timeframe.
For the purpose of this article, for example, we entered “Web Trends” and set our timeframe from 2004 to 2017. As you can see by the chart below, the search demand and volume for web trends, since 2004, has had a steep decline.
It is clear that web trends once mattered and they are now much less relevant.
Finally, We Recognize The Web Has Purpose
It is encouraging to see that both the consumer and industry now understand the value of the web. The constant evolution has consistently led us to a much improved web, overall.
The only thing trending about the web these days is how it will be used as a communication and integration method for devices and apps. It is no longer an equation that includes custom design for look and feel.
We often wonder how many of us, outside the design community, ever looked at a site and said, “Wow. What wonderful colors and design this site has!”
These words have likely never been uttered when arriving at Amazon’s site to pickup a new book or gadget.
We are a community of function above form. We know designers do not like to hear this, but it is the new truth.
Devices, apps, AI Bots and the like are the next logical step. These are all in their infancy right now, and like the web, they are in their own state of constant evolution. Of course, entrepreneurs and innovators will continue to push the envelope of the capabilities perfecting them over the years.
Echo and Google Home are capable of answering questions and taking action based on verbal commands. They have evolved from earlier versions to where they can now turn on lights, unlock doors, change the TV channel and even water the lawn or vacuum the house.
These instructions are passed through the internet via our journey toward the next phase of the web.
Mobile sites are very nearly a thing of the past. We rely on apps for ease of use and mechanisms to reach our goals faster. Whether its information, or products and services, we’re looking for a means to make it easier to do what we need or want.
Artificial Intelligence is being leveraged in everything. Google utilizes it in the search algorithm and data processors. AI can be seen everywhere, including chat bots that can act as a full-featured virtual sales and support assistant.
We feel the time is right to move on from Web Trends analysis year after year. It has evolved.
Tell us your thoughts. Have you noticed the web evolution and do you see the same path we have laid out here? Let us know in the comments.