Whether you are thinking about a new website, or making a few tweaks to the old one, it certainly helps to know what’s fresh in the longterm. We take a look at some of the biggest website trends in 2016.

Every year brings a new set of trends, especially in the ever-evolving world of tech and design. Whilst this can seem a bit of an imposition, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for businesses who want to freshen up their image and online marketing channel.

Your website is the epitome of both those things, so it definitely pays to keep ahead of the curve. Here’s a few of the biggest website trends across design and functionality you need to know in 2016.

Hero images are topping our ‘must haves’

Eye-catching imagery is kind of a big deal, it’s what users are drawn to when browsing on their desktops, smartphones, and tablets. Not just that, improved screen resolution across these devices has influenced the way we consume content to be more visual-centric.

Hero images sit at the top of your webpage and are the first – sometimes only – thing that people see when they first arrive. When used correctly, hero images can capture the attention of your customers and communicate your marketing messages far more quickly and effectively than a simple text header.

More businesses are starting to incorporate hero images across their websites, particularly on their homepage. Advances in bandwidth and data compression prevent slow load times for users, meaning more images of a higher quality are being used to full effect.

Hamburgers are back on the menu

Some people call it a slide menu, others refer to this three-lined navigation tool as a ‘drawer’ or a hamburger menu. Whatever you want to call it, this little button has received a moderate degree of criticism in the past for hiding off-screen features and being too nondescript in appearance.

However, popularity of the so-called hamburger menu has grown with website owners who are looking for a cleaner, less is more approach, which itself is a growing trend in contemporary website design.

In fact, widespread use of the hamburger menu has made this function more easily recognisable to users than initial concerns would have led you to believe. We’ve all become increasingly aware the functionality the hamburger menu offers through ubiquitous mobile apps and mobile-optimised webpages.

Responsiveness is essential

Speaking of mobile-optimised, responsiveness is not just a trend for 2016, it’s now essential. But many businesses have still yet to optimise their website to work across mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which means they are neglecting a significant portion of their customer-base.

Last year’s Google update now means websites that are not responsive will not appear in the search results listings on a mobile device. And even if users did find their way on to your site, the likelihood is that content would not format properly and functionality would be hindered, making it difficult to navigate your site and access your services.

Flat and clean design

Since the release of Apple’s IOS 7, when flat icons were introduced in place of the more ‘bubbly’ kind, this style has proved to be very popular with users. Websites with a flat, clean design are bang on trend this year.

Registration via social accounts

There are lots of different reasons to submit your details on a website, but not all of them end in a purchase or sign-up. Sometimes it’s a simple case of getting ‘access’ to information. Of course, businesses still want to vet people according to quality of relevance, but field forms asking for information only act as a barrier, especially towards the simplest of tasks, which can turn away even the most motivated users.

The solution is for users to register via an existing account with a social media platform, such as FaceBook, LinkedIn or Google Plus. It’s likely you’ve already experienced this somewhere and benefitted from the amount of time it saves, so wouldn’t it make sense to offer this functionality to your website visitors?

Video will continue to grow as a visual medium

Video is fast becoming the preferred medium for marketers and consumers alike, and is expected to account for over half of all consumer internet traffic by 2017 – that’s according to American tech giants Cisco.

This means the number of people expecting video to be part of your online presence –  in some way or another – is growing. How you implement video is up to you, but remember that video streaming directly (not embedded from the likes of YouTube) via your website will slow load times and can lead to website visitors dropping out if load times are too long.

Two main focuses for videos should be your company and your offerings, in that order. Create a company culture video that shows customers who you are in an authentic and relatable way. Then you can start to roll out videos to sell your products and services. The most important thing to remember is that customers resonate with what’s ‘real’ when it comes to video.