Flat and Clean Design
Yes, simple is once again beautiful. We all remember the monstrosities associated with the dawn of the world wide web in the early 90s such as rainbow colors, animated icons, 3D bevels, and weird textures. As users of the Internet have matured they said "no, thank you" to the superfluous razzle-dazzle. Most people use the internet as a way to get information quickly and efficiently, and they don't want to sift through clutter in order to get to it. Modern websites strive to be clean and well organized; a pleasure to look at and a snap to get from point A to point B. This means flat design with only subtle shadows, gradients, and textures, if any at all, effective use of white space, more boxes, less bubbles and less rounded corners.
Fonts have always been underrated. Until Comic Sans showed up on the horizon and made everyone blatantly aware of its misuses, no one really noticed fonts. It was more of a subliminal message in advertising. But now typography is making its great comeback: there is not only more focus on typographical elements when they are featured sometimes as primary design elements (like in the Swiss style or Russian propaganda posters), but they are being used more creatively. Sans Serifs (with Helvetica in the lead) were certainly a big improvement for cleaner designs, but now designers are mixing typefaces to create interesting, effective, and appealing combinations. However you do it, the type must be clean, legible, and objective.
Your mobile device is no longer just a phone: it slices, dices, and makes julienne fries... its internet connectivity capacities and larger displays allow for more convenient web browsing. With the mobile device share of website traffic at over 25%, it is becoming imperative that businesses optimize their websites for smaller displays. While smartphones are used primary as a web browsing or research platform, tablet use for making online purchases is expanding as users' comfort levels rise. To prevent alienating a large chunk of the market, web sites are adopting adaptive or responsive designs to eliminate usability issues arising with smaller displays. Big buttons are in; hovers are out. Menus are simplified and downsized. Performance is optimized to give users quicker access to information.
Super-sized, high quality images take center stage. This trend's increasing popularity is not only related to aesthetic appeal but also usability and maintenance. The plethora of display sizes and resolutions--from small smartphone screens to large laptop displays--create viewing consistency challenges. A full-width background that stretches and adjusts accordingly to the size of the screen adds stability to the design. Also, large attractive images can appeal to audience pathos and trigger an emotional response strengthening branding and import of the message. The website can easily be updated, refreshed, and revamped by simply changing the background image.
Vertical scrolling and one page designs eliminate clicks and present content neatly in one spot where it can be accessed by scrolling down the page, which is intuitive, simple, and mobile-friendly. The vertical design opens the door for parallax effects and sticky navigation. Even though there seems to be much buzz about alternative navigation functionalities, at this point we have enough trained users to look for navigational elements on the top and left of the screen, and I think appealing to these conditioned tendencies rather than trying to subvert them is a much more successful strategy.
Social Media Integration
Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Google+, Instagram. . . they came, and it's pretty clear they are here to stay, so you might as well incorporate social media interactivity into your website and, what's more important, use the exposure to your advantage.