There’s no doubt the last year and a half has been revolutionary for the web industry. The multitude of developments that have happened recently are setting the tone for the future of the web. Let’s take a look at some current and upcoming design trends you can focus on now to ready your website for the future, why they are important, and how they can provide your users with an experience they will soon come to expect.
CSS3 & HTML5
In the past, Flash has been a major player on the web. It has also been abused- used for functionalities that would be best served (and simplified for the user), in other ways. Not to mention the compatibility issues we now face with mobile devices. It is now becoming a thing of the past, and the web is moving over to CSS3 and HTML5 quickly. They can bring many enhancements to your website- updated design elements, interactivity for users, faster loading times, mobile compatibility, etc. If you are unfamiliar with CSS3 and HTML5, check out this overview article. As you continue to update and upgrade your website, it will be important to start implementing these new features, as they will become commonplace. This is currently a big trend in web design, and will continue to be so, eventually becoming the standard.
Responsive Web Design and Mobile-Friendly Information
While the term “responsive” is debatable, it seems to be the most common for describing designs that make use of the new CSS3 media queries. Media queries allow you to tailor your site to different screen resolutions without changing your content, thus making your site compatible with desktop browsers and mobile devices alike, and eliminating the need for a separate mobile site (commonly done in the recent past). Frequently called “responsive web design,” this will no doubt be a trend in the near future. You will especially want to take note if you have been considering a mobile website or your users frequent your website via a mobile device. Not sure if they do? Check out your website’s analytics to see how it is being viewed. You can read more about responsive web design in our April blog post.
Making your website “responsive” isn’t the only way to make your website mobile-friendly. If you can’t undergo that change right now, you should still take time to reevaluate the way your key information is displayed on your site. It is important to make sure the information your mobile users are seeking is readily and easily available when visiting your website away from the desktop. A quick redesign of these key elements can give you an edge over your competition, if they don’t do so already, and will keep your users happy.
In the US, smartphones are now the majority of new cell purchases, and smartphones and tablets are estimated to outsell personal computers this year. Mobile compatibility should be acknowledged when considering how you will reach your real-world users.
Web Fonts and Typography
Typography in web design has been improving over the last few years with the use of plugins. There were a lot of snags that arose with these, like copyright issues, browser compatibility, fonts not displaying properly in various OS environments, and more. Thanks to CSS3, the use of free and subscription-based font libraries (see Google Fonts and Typekit), and the availability of web font licenses, the typography boom will definitely continue.
Why does typography matter to your website and business? In the past, the copy of a website was not considered part of the design. If you check out some older sites, chances are the copy is a standard, default font, without any typographic styling to help improve the design. This scene has dramatically changed. Web fonts are fairly simple to implement and can give your website a quick face lift. This isn’t to say you can slap some new font faces on your website and be done with it. However, choosing the correct font face to compliment your branding and adding some styling to your copy can help your website stay fresh and add to your company’s branded look. Web fonts and typography will become (even more) commonplace in the next years, and sites neglecting their copy will look outdated.
Other Trends to Note
1. Touch Screen Compatibility: This goes along with mobile compatibly. Users will no longer just be pointing, clicking, and scrolling on your website. They will be tapping, dragging, zooming, and even viewing your site in portrait and landscape modes. Updating your site to accommodate these new interactions will ensure your website will provide the best experience for mobile and tablet users.
2. 3D: Now, before you get excited, we don’t have 3D web sites… yet. However, 3D movies are becoming increasingly popular in the box office. It’s a safe bet to guess that we will see more depth perception on websites in the near future. Tastefully done, adding dimension to your site can help display important information, while toning down other required elements so they do not distract from the design and message.
3. Videos: We don’t need to get into how popular Youtube has become. But we can thank it and similar sites for the increase in popularity of video marketing. With the addition of HTML5 video, which allows video compatibility on mobile devices, the inclusion of quality marketing videos in sites’ designs will continue to grow.
4. QR Codes: Quick Response codes are one of the hottest trends in marketing right now. They allow a person to snap a picture of the code with their smartphone and the phone’s browser will open up the advertiser’s website. These unique, black and white patterned boxes can be found anywhere- from business cards, magazines, posters at bus stops… I even found one in the restroom of Tijuana Flats this past weekend. If your website is mobile compatible, or has a special feature specifically for mobile users, you can even include this code on your website to allow for quick mobile bookmarking. You can generate your own QR code here: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.
Information exchange around web design trends is popular among web professionals, but it is important for designers and business owners alike. Understanding current and upcoming web design trends can help you stay on top of the marketing game and ensure you are providing the best experience possible for your customers and users.
Enjoy other Content from our hand selected “Best of 2011″: