The web world is gradually saying goodbye to the realistic design trend and welcoming a new world of semi-flat design. Even large top brands and multinationals are redesigning their branding and logos to feature simple, flat icons that are easy to recognise and grasp. Gone are the curvy, 3D looks of the past decade.

Flat or semi-flat design is all about simple 2D images, crisp edges and monochrome palettes. However, flat design does come with its own set of problems, as it can be tricky for users to identify which elements are clickable. However, by adding material design characteristics such as transition animation and depth effects, it is now possible to make these stand out while maintaining the popular semi-flat trend. This semi-flat trend is also known as Flat 2.0.

Semi-flat design is perfect for sites looking for a simple and minimal design scheme. Open spaces and simple typography, combined with bright colours and shading, can be used to create a bold but classic feel. Subtle shading can add depth without adding the complexity of 3D design.

Semi-flat design has been influenced by minimalism in other areas of the creative world, such as graphic design and even architecture. And it looks like this is the year that it’s really going to take hold.

The other big trend in web design for this year is hero images. This is a term used to describe an oversized banner image at the top of the screen. It is also sometimes known as a hero leader, and serves as a user’s first glimpse into what you do and what you offer. It usually extends the full width of the page for maximum impact.

In addition to captivating images, heroes can also contain your business’s unique selling point, or USP. There can also be signup forms or links to online shopping sites. There has also been a recent trend for using videos and animations rather than just static photos.

More and more people are using a hero image for their site as it can be a good way to add a personal touch that builds personality for your brand. It can also be useful as a call to action and can draw readers into looking at more content.

However, you need to be careful that large images do not affect the loading time of your page. A hero is there to be entice people in, but if it delays loading then it will have more of an adverse effect. You also need to ask yourself whether the image adds value. Heroes only really work when they are bringing something extra to the site. Following a trend for the sake of it is never a good idea.

Heroes can be deployed in a number of ways but if you’re not sure how best to utilise the space, get help from a designer or web marketer who will be able to give you advice on best practices.

The images running at the top of this page are just some of our hero images so you can get an idea of the way they can be used.