Twelve Web design trends to look for in 2012
1. Responsive Design
What if online content responded to the way the user chooses to experience it (desktop, tablet, smartphone), instead of the user being forced to adapt to the way the content is rigidly presented? That’s the idea behind Responsive Design, and it’s more than just the biggest thing in web design for 2012: it’s quite simply the way forward.
2. Magazine-Style Layouts
Large, glossy images, smartly organized content, and an emphasis on art direction are all part of the DNA of magazine design. Instead of completely “reinventing the wheel,” designers quickly discovered that the lessons learned from magazine design translate quite nicely into the tablet form factor.
3. Rich Typography
Advances in browser technology have expanded the typographic tools in the Web designer’s toolbox. With dynamic font replacement, designs can safely utilize fonts outside of the standard Arial, Verdana, Georgia, or other “web safe” fonts. The era of art directed online content has arrived.
4. Greater Emphasis on Art Direction
Advances in browser technology, rich typography, and responsive design are all key developments that allow designers to craft a true online experience in ways that previously weren’t possible. Art direction is more than just text and images presented on a screen; it is the thought that goes into the artistic and design elements of a project, and how that project is ultimately executed. This is a key development in the continuing maturation of the Web design industry.
Because of a greater emphasis on art direction in Web design, the presentation of information and data in a visual way will continue to be a growing design trend this year.
6. App-Inspired Design
Are apps the future of consuming online content, or will the Web continue to be the channel of choice? While the answer to this question is still up for debate, there is a trend toward designing sites that take UI elements from app design, and translate them for use on the Web.
7. An Explosion of Mobile Devices
From smartphones to tablets, mobile devices are a ubiquitous and ever-expending part of our daily lives. Expect to hear much more about “content shifting,” i.e., the idea of saving articles, videos and podcasts for later viewing on the device of your choice. Designers can no longer expect for their content to be viewed on a specific device of a specific resolution.
With all of the emphasis on technological advancement, there’s a noticeable increase in the number of sites that utilize illustrations to add whimsy, warmth and personality to the user experience.
9. Large photos as background images
10. Fixed Navigation
Keeping the navigation links and/or logo locked in position while the content scrolls is a great way to enhance the user experience, and to eliminate any confusion when web content is viewed on different devices at different resolutions.
11. Breaking the Grid
Grid-based layouts are the foundation of successful web designs, both fixed-width and responsive. However, designers are continuing to experiment with ways to add unexpected design elements that don’t fit neatly into the grid/column structure. In the hands of a skillful designer, “breaking the grid” can elevate a passive design into an active, vibrant one.
12. Vertical Scrolling Effects
In my previous article, “The Myth of the Page Fold,” I recommended rewarding users for doing what comes naturally: scrolling. Continuing on an increasingly popular trend, 2012 will see a rise in websites that depend on scrolling actions to activate amazing visual effects and create beautifully immersive online experiences.
*BONUS* HTML5/CSS3 Standards