Predicting the evolution of web design is like trying to milk a male goat. Despite ever-changing design trends and techniques, purists and idealists maintain that the principles of great design are timeless. This is true to an extent, but the recent rapid and consistent development of the Internet across many dimensions and in diverse ways has to be taken into account.
The Internet has provided us with such a huge platform to innovate and break design barriers; it allows the designer to apply variations and to slightly modify existing trends in order to make their mark. Global access to every kind of tool and technique is at the heart of this creative revolution, allowing designers from all over the world to explore new possibilities.
You may be interested in the following related articles as well.
Please feel free to join us and you are always welcome to share your thoughts that our readers may like.
We are well into 2011; it’s time to reflect on the trends of 2010 and, with a hungry eye, look at those emerging today.
Minimalism is not a new concept; it is often understood as the best approach towards communicating a precise message to an audience. By retaining only essential elements, minimalist designers use negative (or white) space to enhance the message and draw in the user.
When aiming for minimalism, I would suggest using a grid system—but keep in mind that designers have mixed opinions about this approach. Without a grid, though, there is a danger that what you produce will appear disorganized and incomplete.
The use of negative space in design has been a related emerging trend. Plenty of white space is visually pleasing, and it allows the reader’s eyes to rest. Combining minimalism and negative space pushes a message to the forefront of a design and captures the user’s imagination. Now, white space does not necessarily have to be white; it simply refers to empty or blank space on the page. Empty space makes a page more scannable and helps to highlight the relation between elements through their distance from each other.
Stylized typography is an age-old feature, and today designers are using it as a primary weapon in their arsenal of innovation. Until recently, most have restricted themselves to select web-safe fonts. But with the growing numbers of tools and applications, typography has become a primary design element in its own right. The demand for larger and more exciting fonts is rapidly increasing, and these fonts are replacing the old system fonts as designers play with techniques such as line height. Tools such as WhatTheFont, CSS Typeset and Typetester have helped designers be more creative and allow for different typeface to be used across the web.
CSS3 is the latest module of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Its much more advanced set of features make this new version the tool of the future. However, there are some mixed reviews as a result of its incompatibility with Internet Explorer and other browsers. Even still, watch out for CSS3 in 2011. Some exciting and distinctive aspects of CSS3 are features like “border radius,” “box shadow,” multiple background images and text shadow. Animations with CSS3 are made easy, subtle and lightweight.
CSS3 has made the task of giving an in-depth visual experience (in this case, with shadows) quite easy. Customizable shadow capabilities allow the designer to create various effects like drop and inner shadows. The demand for this capability will only increase as time goes by.
This is one of the most advanced features of CSS3 and can be applied to any colored element (fonts, borders, background, shadow, etc.). This trend has also gained enormous popularity.
The latest version of the HTML specification is another trend in high demand. It enables the designer and developer to create more readable code and build layouts that are semantically meaningful. It introduces advanced features that help you structure mark-up. Other HTML5 features are APIs, dragging, drawing graphics on screen, canvas, keygen, output and progress.
The use of textured backgrounds is another hot trend to follow. The visual experience of the audience increases exponentially if the background is aesthetically pleasing and precise. The points to focus on are simplicity of design and the illusion of textures to create depth and dimension on the page.
Simplicity is yet another recent design trend that has captured the respect and imagination of users. The principal of “less is more” is being increasingly applied. As designers, we have always obeyed the demands of clients, often developing websites full of complex, unrelated features and countless repetitions. However, times have changed, and so have the demands of the trade. Users and clients seem to finally understand the importance of simplicity, of removing clutter from the page and allowing plenty of white space. With the need for websites to be mobile-friendly, compatible and accessible, design has to be kept simple. The simpler a website, the easier it is to navigate and comprehend.
The ever-expanding competition to keep users on a website is becoming more challenging. Visitors scan web pages to locate the information they want, but with each click required to delve deeper into the website, the interest level drop. This phenomenon has led to a growing desire to build single-page websites. For their part, designers must be competent enough to consolidate and summarize all of their content in a standalone user interface.
Print media has, of course, been around much longer than the web. As a result, print designers have a longer history to refer to as they master their art and develop their creativity. This could be one reason why many of the latest web design trends are inspired by print media concepts, whether innovative typography, aesthetic backgrounds, negative space or grid structures.
Large headings is another trend inspired by traditional print media (such as advertising brochures, magazines and newspapers) and used to grab the interest of the reader. Given the incredible amount of information online, the attention span of the online audience is far shorter than that of a print audience. Large headings are now a necessity and are almost certain to make an impression and attract users.
The use of infographics is only going to grow in 2011. Combining graphics and images, this feature highlights information in a way that makes for a more absorbing environment for the reader. It also allows the key message to be expressed with more clarity and concision. As the need to comprehend complex, diverse pieces of information increases, so will the demand for infographics.
Traditional websites were primarily built with Arial or Verdana font scripts; most designers shied away from serif fonts because of their poor readability on traditional browsers. Today, mobile applications are the most popular with online businesses, and the technology has responded accordingly. Now, more browsers and handset applications use high-resolution display screens, allowing for increased readability. In this regard, a cue may be taken from print designers and their use of serif fonts. The more defined edges of these fonts improve the reading experience, especially on high-resolution screens.
Google has taken the use of thumbnails in design to new heights. Its extensive use of them has afforded greater ease and comfort to the user. Now, users simply place their cursor over a headline and they’ll know exactly what to expect without committing to clicking into that website. This has undoubtedly saved the user time, eliminating the need to click and wait for pages to load as they surf. I’ve found this approach has gotten a mixed reception from designers, but I think it’s here to stay.
Another growing trend among designers is to present information in a way that is easy to scan and comprehend in a short amount of time. Presenting information clearly has become easier to accomplish through the use of multiple-column designs. For this reason, this trend will stay and continue to evolve.
This is another trend inspired by the effective use of images in print media. The web browser was not initially designed to load heavy image files quickly; now, with the advancements in display and loading technology, you can expect big lead images to become even more popular. In general, high-impact images are effective in creating a lasting impression on the user.
The integration of social media will continue to spread like wildfire throughout the web in the near future. This practice has allowed businesses to gain greater exposure and access to users than ever before. Online businesses, big and small, will focus squarely on this in 2011.
As we move into 2011, designers everywhere are preparing their next projects. I hope this review of the hottest upcoming trends has been useful. Take a moment to share other design trends not mentioned here; they’ll be greatly appreciated.
While writing this article, it’s always a possibility that we missed some other latest design trends. Feel free to share it with us.