Web Design Predictions From the Past: Where Are They Now?

Following up on all those ‘web design trends of 2016’ think-pieces.

Each and every year, many writers explore the web design trend predictions for the year ahead. It’s exciting to imagine what the upcoming year will bring to the web design industry. Like most things, trends are very hard to predict. We can often only go off the trends of the previous year and look at how they are progressing.

2016 Web Design Trend Forecasts

We can also look within more prominent designers’ works, since they have a considerable influence of the styles of other designers as they look to others for inspiration.

While these web design predictions are exciting and seemingly accurate, how many of the predicted trends actually come to fruition? We are going to look at some trends forecasted in the beginning of 2016, and look at how many of them have been correct, and whether they have stuck around or come and gone in a hurry.

Split content

Certainly not one of the more outrageous trends we have seen, split content design is a visual approach which separates content into two separate columns – one often scrolling while the other remains fixed. The trend, predicted by TemplateMonster, was certainly accurate as we saw a variety of these designs particularly in the first half of 2016. Since then, the trend has lost some of its prominence, with a general reversion back to single column website designs.

Verdict: still alive, but fading quickly as the merits of single column designs are re-emphasized

Hamburger menu

This was certainly a hot topic back in 2015 and into 2016, and was covered by prominent sites including Awwwards. While hamburger menus have risen to prominence in mobile apps and mobile website designs, the trend that really gained traction into 2016 was utilising this same design on desktop. The prediction was most certainly accurate, but the trend itself was deeply flawed in terms of user experience for a number of reasons. First of all, hamburger icons are still a relatively new concept and, as such, are not recognised by the masses. Secondly, the hiding of primary navigation items can trick the user into thinking they do not exist. Finally, requiring two click to change page each time is a definite inconvenience to any website user.

Since 2016, designers have become wise to the downfalls of such an approach, mainly now opting for a more traditional navigation system.

Verdict: still present, particularly in portfolio sites, but the UX downfalls have been widely publicized


Remember those long-scroll websites which seemingly were never ending? Early adopters included DuckDuckGo, Facebook, and Pinterest, having explored the benefits to user experience and content discovery. As forecasted by UXPin, they too also became a popular trend through 2016, particularly in tandem with scroll animations and parallax elements.

As with the hamburger menu, the UX was analysed to not be so effective, and we now see prominent landing pages opting for a more refined and compact approach as they realise most users will neglect to scroll down much past the first few thousand pixels of a website. The trend, however, is still very much alive and we continue to see examples of such in the latest blog and marketing website designs.

Verdict: still prominent, particularly in news/blog and landing page websites

Card-based layouts

The concept of card-based layouts came to prominence in 2015 as Google’s Material guidelines began to be implemented by a large sector of mobile designers. Since then the concept has also made its way into the web design industry. Designmodo predicted this trend to continue to be implemented across the industry and it was absolutely correct. Throughout the year we saw more and more creative implementations of card-based layouts, both for visual impact and enhanced user experience.

The trend is very much still in use into 2017 with sites such as The Next Web, Pinterest, and Google implementing the design direction. It has become a viable option for consideration in many new web design and web interface projects.

Verdict: still prominent as the design trend has many merits in terms of user experience and readability, particularly for news websites


Touched upon slightly earlier, animations are now more prominent than ever. However, trends back in 2016 predicted less subtle animations than we see today. The trend has certainly shifted from very obvious animations such as in backgrounds, scrolling, and page transitions. We now see many more examples of micro-interactions and subtle animations in the form of hover effects, icons, and smaller UI elements, as designers realise a more conservative approach to animation can be more effective for the end user.

Verdict: still popular but not seen as often as designers and animators focus on micro-interactions and more subtle animations which enhance the user experience

Thin typography

Light typography was correctly predicted by Marvellous to continue in 2016. The trend came as a product of the minimalist design trend, as designers sought more and more refined and clean-looking designs. The font weights became lighter and thinner all the time, however the readability often came as a cost for this particular design choice.

The trend is still going strong but early signs are signifying a shift back toward heavy font weights, since Apple’s introduction of such a style in the iOS 10 Music app.

Verdict: still prominent, particularly with minimal websites, though we are starting to see more emphatic typography in general website designs

Full-screen forms

Forecasted by Econsultancy and initially devised by Typeform, full-screen forms gained really solid traction through 2015 and the trends correctly predicted it to continue. The trend is one whereby forms are implemented in a large scale design and offer a dynamic user experience. Full screen forms are still hugely popular and their growth doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing.

Verdict: still very prominent, especially on sites with surveys or where the forms are long with many fields

Offset Fill & Circular Iconography

Iconography is one of the most fast-paced and fast-moving elements within web design. The trends predicted to continue back in 2016 by Canva were specifically icons with offset backgrounds, and circular flat icons inspired by Google’s Material design.

Both trends failed to sustain the popularity seen throughout the previous year or two, and neither are now seen too often in the latest website designs.

Verdict: both have faded, with circular iconography particularly unpopular in 2017

Does it matter?

Overall, web design predictions have been surprisingly accurate in 2016, and some of the trends are still prominent well into 2017. Looking back at the predictions for not much longer than a year ago, show just how quickly the web design industry changes, and how important it is to stay proactive in terms of keep your designs current.

About the Author Ben Bate

I'm Ben, a Product Designer from the United Kingdom. You can visit my website or follow me on Dribbble.