Web design trends 2017: Application style design

4 min read
Jonny Pathan
A Person working at a laptop

Application style web design is popping up everywhere, and it’s here to stay.

As we enter the final stages of 2016, it’s inevitable to see these kind of articles popping up on the web, and this one is no different… except, it kind of is. I keep seeing predictions such as ‘Mobile-first approach’, ‘responsive design’, ‘originality’, ‘bold colours’ and more of the usual same old same old.

These are true, but we know this already. What’s really a trend we can spot?

Platform-as-a-Service is influencing design, here’s why.

The Global Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market is projected to reach $7.5B by 2020*. With the largest market being in the US, the surge in ‘develop your own applications’ amongst enterprise is the driving force here.

Global Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Market Trends – *http://www.strategyr.com/MarketResearch/Platform_as_a_Service_PaaS_Market_Trends.asp

The design influence from the recent plethora of cloud based, in-browser software is dramatically influencing the style of web design you’re starting to see and are bound to see in the coming years. It seems to me that the developers and designers of Software-as-a-Service (SASS) are relying on age old user habits based around traditional software.

That’s no bad thing, and it’s to be expected.

We know how software is used, and what peoples expectations are, so why would that change all of a sudden just because it’s inside of a web browser.

A working Trello Board example
Project Management Tool Trello

Half of the websites I visit these days are essentially web-based applications, websites such as Trello, Gmail, Teamweek and Office365 to name a few. As these forms of websites/applications become more and more commonly used, It’s no surprise that they’ll influence web designers heavily.

Here are some examples of application style design:

I’ve grabbed a few screenshots of what I consider ‘App style design’.

Carrd example
One-page builder https://carrd.co – Clear use of an app style interface and iconography
Flow Website
https://www.getflow.com – Project management for teams with big ideas. Great use of icons and app style navigation
Wistia example
https://wistia.com/ Wistia is professional video hosting with analytics and video marketing tools
uiGradients example
http://uigradients.com/ – uiGradients is a handpicked collection of beautiful colour gradients for designers and developer

Soundcloud example
Soundcloud – I happened to be on this whilst writing this
Applications Style Design
Something we’re working on at the moment

What does our creative director think?

A caricature of Paul Mist
Watb Creative Director

“UX as a practice has grown massively over the last year, and I expect to see it even more ingrained in design in 2017. It’ll be about users over special effects distractions, and function over form. That’s not to say the web will become dry – quite the opposite – with these facets of our work becoming more second nature the marriage of beautiful, crafted art and excellent, user centred design will shine through.” – Paul Mist, Creative Director,

What else is happening now and next year?

I’m going to touch on the cliche trends too, because well, you may have missed them (unlikely).

Adopting a mobile-first approach
This has been happening for a while and truthfully, you knew this already.

Shippo's website on a Mobile device
Shippo.co.uk – A mobile first website we made

Rapid prototyping tools

With the rise of Sketch, Adobe XD and Affinity and Photoshop’s advancements, being able to prototype quickly is becoming a much easier task. This looks like it’s only going to get smarter and faster.

An example of Adobe XD
Adobe XD UX Design tool

Bold Colours

We’re seeing more vivid, bold use of colour across the web. I quite like it too!

Spotify example
Spotify. Being bold with colour.

What are your thoughts on web design in 2017? Sound-off below!

The Global Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market is projected to reach $7.5B by 2020*. With the largest market being in the US, the surge in ‘develop your own applications’ amongst enterprise is the driving force here.

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