Web Design Trends to Watch in 2016

Posted on March 8, 2016 | Updated on November 28, 2022

With 2016 in high gear, now is an appropriate time to explore what’s hot for this year in the world of global design, music and social sharing.

After analyzing millions of image searches, downloads and other data, stock photo megasite Shutterstock released their yearly infographic (shown below) and interactive version to predict what’s trending in the creative world for 2016.

Like in previous years, they’ve compiled what’s hot in design around the world, as well as popular music tracks, video footage, and what’s being shared on social.  Check out the results and use these web design trends as guiding principles in future projects.

Stock Photos in Web Design Trends

The four concepts trending this year include Flat Lay, Boho, Metallics and Sacred Geometry. Flat Lay is especially hot on Instagram. The trend shows up all over recent stock photography, especially in food, fashion, and workspace photos. The minimalist style and clean edges blend well with the popular flay layouts prevalent in modern web design.

What Is Visually Trending Around the World?

Of the fourteen countries represented, the largest increase in trends are both in Asia, with gold up 1677% in South Korea and monkey increasing 1005% in Japan. According to the Chinese Zodiac this is the Year of the Monkey, so popularity will remain high through the year.

The largest trend in the United States is Data Science, up 356% from last year. More and more companies are collecting their own data. They’re finding ways to represent it visually to strengthen their positions as industry leaders.

Cultural Trends For Web Design

This year’s dominant cultural trends are complete opposites. The ideas of “always on” vs. “unplugged” provide an interesting dichotomy. We struggle balancing with having access to more information than ever and the need to get away from it all.

Within these two trends, Smart Watches and Wanderlust are the most popular, providing an even more detailed look in how we both connect with and disengage from the world.

In the Always On concept, new technology is the theme. Smart Watches lead the pack, with Drones, Virtual Reality and Mobile Payments coming in next. It’s clear that this concept explores the next big thing in the world of tech.

The only thing trendy on the Unplugged side is at the bottom of the list. Adult Coloring Books sits squarely in the number four spot, while broader topics including fitness and mindfulness inch closer to the top spot.


The largest web design trends once again reflect our struggle to balance technology and disconnect. Material design and watercolor hold the top spots.

Material design was developed by Google and combines responsive design with grid layouts and minimalism. It provides a sensory-rich experience in today’s web design.


The one area where technology takes a back seat is in video. Instead of cool tech concepts and flashing lights, designers are inclined to use nature footage. Popular clips of water, fire and beaches will dominate this year’s creations.


This year’s music trends continue to follow the pattern of last year, with optimistic happy tunes dominating the projects you’ll see in 2016.

Tracks characterized as bright, confident, happy and upbeat took the top spots in this year’s research.

These findings are no surprise. Who wants to buy a product from a company with a dreary soundtrack that reminds one of a funeral march? Consider this the next time you implement a trend in web design.

Social Media in Web Design Trends

The two dominant themes of images shared on social are nature and people. Natural images with vibrant colors with high contrast and saturation top the list. After color in nature comes human scale, showing just how small humans are compared with the majesty of nature or large-scale human creations such as grand architecture.

Since attention spans are now proven to be shorter than that of a goldfish, design is no longer confined to a single medium. Websites are corporate organisms, constantly evolving and growing with the companies they represent.

Motion graphics, video and photography are standard on even the most simple websites, and come together to create a stunning display of technology and creativity.

No longer confined to a single discipline, designers are constantly pushing technology to the limit. They create works of art that amaze even the toughest critics. 2016 will continue to be a time when designers have to work harder to create responsive experiences that work well on the constantly evolving mobile devices we rely on more and more for internet.


Danita HornDanita Horn is a Senior Analyst at Wpromote, a leading online marketing agency specializing in search engine optimization, paid search, social media, email marketing and more.

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.


  1. This Is My South Bay on April 25, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    I think the biggest thing to consider these days in web design is how it mobile.

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