web trends of 2016


Fashion trends are constantly changing. Last year we saw skinny jeans and yoga pants everywhere. This year the trend is more relaxed with “boyfriend jeans” and overalls. (Are people actually wearing those?!) One year you think you have the fashion trends down only to feel out-of-date the next.

Like the fashion industry, web designers are constantly tweaking colors, patterns and styles to find something that best suites the end user and appeals to the buyers. Web design even tends to mimic trends seen in the fashion industry like bold colors, hand-scripted designs and geometric patterns.

At COGNITION we understand that you may be too busy running a business, keeping customers and board members happy and marketing your cause to keep up with all the ins and outs of website design. So we’ve created a go-to guide of the best web design trends of 2016 for you to incorporate in your next redesign.


Multi-page sites with long-page design:

2015 was the year of single page websites. The trend was to include all your information in various panels on one page that the viewer would scroll through, limiting the frustration of trying to click small links on mobile devices. However, the slow download times and the confusing SEO made designers rethink this trend.

Multi-page sites have returned in 2016, but with a twist! Designers are still loving the look of long pages, but with the usability of multiple pages. It’s the best of both worlds! Long pages keep visitors engaged and scrolling, and multiple pages allow for more content creation and better SEO.

Capstone Apartment’s website is a great example of this duo in action. Its homepage is long but the site has other pages to house news articles, market reports and company information.


capstone apartments


Responsive design:

Responsive Design may not fit in this list of “trends” but it’s so important that we didn’t want to leave it off. In 2016 it is essential for your website to be mobile-friendly because 80% of people are now using their smart phones to look up information and make purchases (source), and you don’t want to miss out on that audience! A responsive design allows your website to scale and adapt to various screen sizes making it easier for viewers to reach your website while on their phone at the coffee shop.


responsive design


Grid layouts:

Grid-based layouts help to present bits of information in quick, scannable formats. This geometric trend became more than just a fad with the popularity of Pinterest, and now it can be seen on many sites, including our own Work page. We love that grid layouts are mobile friendly, functional, and with the right images, beautiful, like Airbnb’s website seen below.




Line icons and ghost buttons:

We are loving the simplicity of line icons and ghost buttons. Line icons are exactly what they sound like: icons created using minimal details, outlines of familiar shapes and always transparent. Use line icons to differentiate your services, add flair to your company history page or give a clean, modern look to your homepage.




Like line icons, ghost buttons add personality without adding bulk to websites. Ghost buttons are best used atop of high-quality photography to create beautiful calls-to-action as seen on Mission to the World’s site.


Mission to the World site


Natural-looking photography:

Speaking of beautiful photography, we are most excited to say, “Goodbye” to cheesy stock photography! Companies are opting to forgo the overused stock photography and are instead using images are that more personal and unique. These images may be hand-drawn illustrations, their own photography or videos, or stock photography that is natural, suits the company culture and is realistic. Consumers want authenticity, so the cheesy stock photographs have got to go!

For natural, beautiful and most importantly unique photos to use on your website, check out Unsplash, Life of Pix or Picjumbo.

Greensboro College uses real images from around campus to give prospective students a true picture of college life!




Full-screen sliders and background videos:

Full-screen sliders or videos are a new, fun way of engaging your website visitors. Rather than your visitor scrolling through the image slider, the entire screen changes to create an entire new experience for the viewer. You can use this space to provide multiple offers for your visitors or grab their attention with a fun background video. Pro tip: Keep the sound on videos off. No one likes to be startled with sound when they open a new webpage.

The Memphis Zoo does a great job of incorporating multiple background videos! Visit their site for the full experience!


Memphis zoo


Minimal headers and footers:

With the rise of full-screen images and videos, designers have been limiting website headers and footers. This creates a clean, minimal look and limits distraction from the image or video. The menu is often hidden in the right corner with three little lines and appears when the lines are hovered over or clicked.

Evernote uses a minimal menu to keep the call to action distraction free.




Beautiful typography

Like stock photography, web designers are noticing the overuse of common fonts, (We’re talking about you, Garamond.) and are beginning to incorporate unique and beautiful typography into their designs. Hand-scripted typography is all the rage these days, and paired with a striking background image, the look is fresh and hip.

Typography can instantly change the personality of a website. Be sure to use a font that works with your company brand and will speak to your desired audience. Do you want your website to look professional, kid-friendly, modern? Choose a typeface that represents your company accordingly.

Chris Wilhite uses beautiful typography all throughout his website. Visit the site to see more.





Bright colors

We all remember the 80s – big hair, jelly shoes and neon everything. Well, the 80’s color scheme is back! Bright, bold color palettes are taking over the internet – and we aren’t sad about it. Use this trend to add a pop of color to a more neutral background, perhaps for a call-to-action button or in a menu hover effect.   The result is sure to surprise your visitors, adding some personality and fun to your website.

Used as the main background color, the 80’s gradient on Spotify’s website creates an energetic vibe.




COGNITION designers are always looking to stay up to date with the latest web design trends and web functionality. These top trends have two things in common: usability and user experience. It’s when these tw0 work together that a great website is created – one we can’t wait to show off!

If you are looking to redesign your website or give your brand a fresh face lift, we’d love to talk to you! Contact COGNITION to get started.