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.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.


Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

Related Posts

Posts you may also like