The Top 5 Web Trends of 2016

Posted / 02 December, 2016

Author / Enginess

What web trends dominated 2016? Check out the year’s best in this retrospective of the top web trends of 2016.

As we approach the final month of 2016 and prepare to see this year off, we thought it would be worthwhile to take stock of the web trends really came to fruition over the last year and which ones languished. Now without further ado, let the retrospective of the top web trends of 2016 begin!  

1. Hover animations

Hover animations were predicted at the start of the year with the Awwards’ 2015/16 design predictions – and it would be hard for them to be more right about this one. Hover animations create urgency, encourage action, and provide the feedback that users need to know what they can interact with and what they can’t. Since flat design and material design can struggle to let uses know what’s interactive and what isn’t due to their lack of visual depth (the former more than the latter obviously) animations make it really clear what the user is supposed to do.  

2. The carousel continues

Lots of people involved in web development and design (us included) have been predicting its demise for quite some time now, arguing it:
  • Doesn’t engage users in a positive way (if at all)
  • Is a compromise reflective of an organization’s internal political structure, not what the user wants
And while we have seen more full-screen video and hero images this year than before, plenty of sites still hold to the carousel design on the homepage. It looks like the carousel is going to go another round.  

3. Micro-interactions remain less important than anyone predicted

When we took a stab at forecasting what trends were going to dominate 2016 it turns out we did better than we expected, but one of the things we missed on was our prediction around micro interactions. Micro-interactions are interactions in an app or on a website that only do one thing. While these have increased slightly as we move at least a little bit away from nav menus, they haven’t exploded quite the way we anticipated they would. However, micro interactions have made some progress:
  • More tactile feedback to changes (e.g. vibrating when you turn your phone to vibrate in Android and haptic feedback throughout iOS 10 on the iPhone 7)
  • More gesture-based activity (e.g. Motorola and Lenovo phones being shaken to turn the flashlight on)
All in all though, the micro interaction development has been more incremental than explosive.  

4. Push notifications expanded. A lot.

Many websites have harnessed the power of push notifications for desktop, essentially piggy-backing on what email providers have been doing for years. Content streams, social media (especially Pinterest) and even lead generating landing pages are all getting in on it. With good reason as well – push notifications on the desktop are a great way to re-engage a distracted user and bring them back to your product. For instance, think how often you get an email notification and think ‘ok I’ll stop what I’m doing and just do this other thing really quickly’. Desktop push notifications are the same idea. It will be interesting to see if there’s a backlash against this sort of intrusion in the coming year, or if it’s just good, relevant design.  

5. Video content is no longer optional

It came out recently that Buzzfeed’s food videos through Tasty will make up over 50% of their revenue in 2016. What this means for non-media companies is that video is no longer optional. Whether you’re running how-to videos on your website a la Whiteboard Friday from Moz or you’re looking to create branded content on social media, over the past year it’s emerged that video is a huge part of any marketing equation. Over the course of 2016, online video has evolved from a potential engagement tactic into the cornerstone of any social engagement strategy, particularly for consumer-facing brands who want to leverage social media platforms.  

Honourable Mention: Sans serif fonts remain dominant

Finally, it’s clear that sans serif font, despite looking a little shaky earlier in the year, will remain the dominant font of choice for web design. Websites continue to rely on its clean, simple lines to create a strong design that’s clear and easy to read. Naturally, there are holdouts to serif fonts, like Medium and The New York Times. But even there, headings are done in sans serif for clarity and impact. Plus, internet giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, and Amazon all hold true to the sans serif. Our best guess? It’s been here for 2016, and we don’t see a big change headed this way in 2017.  


The end of the year is almost upon us, which means plenty of time for nostalgia and reflection. Over the last year we’ve seen video rise, the carousel and sans serif maintain, and a general improvement with design and user experience with things like animated buttons, push notifications, and haptic feedback. All in all, it’s been a pretty good year!

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