Modern Trends in Web Design
With the progression of web building techniques and evolution of people’s perception of the web environment and its purpose, web design has made a significant transition from simple and static HTML pages to dynamic, multi-media rich websites, capable of interacting with visitors in a sophisticated way. It goes without saying that web design has never been a static or permanent code of rules or approaches to web content storing and presentation. It is an ever-changing phenomenon, which is highly sensitive to all the expectations and requirements of a modern web user.
The notion of web design is too broad and versatile; hence, it is not an easy task to define some common features or trends, which are the most favored ones at a particular time by both web developers and users. However, we will try to summarize the cumulative experience of web designers and line out some of the most distinct web design ideas, which can be treated as the trends of modern web design.
Simple, centered layout
Though modern computer displays tend to become larger with higher resolution, website layouts tend to become simpler in order to provide more comfort for reading and navigating the site. Two or even one column layout seems to be very popular these days. Furthermore, modern web designers prefer to use centered orientation over the previously popular left-site orientation. Perhaps, widely popular content management systems, like WordPress, Joomla and others contribute to the popularization of simpler web site layouts, equally suitable for all kinds of websites from personal blogs to corporate sites.
Horizontal navigation menu
Of course, the choice of a web site layout depends much on the particular type of a web site. A search engine and an online store would still require absolutely different approaches to layout design. However, today it looks like more and more designers prefer using upper horizontal menu and navigation strings instead of their vertical counterparts. Obviously, this can be explained by the fact that it is easier for people to read text lines left to right (however, this rule won’t work for the languages with right to left or top to bottom direction of the text). At the same time, separate boxes are commonly used to introduce different sections or categories of the site. Such boxes are effective when it is necessary to grab the attention of visitors and arrange the content.
Scroll-down is fine
When you need to present a lot of information on a single page, there are only two ways to do that: either you use the entire width offered by a display or you just make use of vertical scrolling. There were many debates about what approach is better, and obviously there are many reasonable pros for every option. However, in terms of usability it looks like scrolling down a narrow but longer page is more convenient than having the full width page stuffed with text and multiple buttons, sections, categories, and navigation links.
Flash, but do not over flash
Flash technology for animated graphic content opened a whole new stage of internet evolution. It is highly efficient when it is necessary to quickly draw the attention of visitors. Besides, Flash allows building a web site of an absolutely different nature – supplied with dynamic content, enriched with visual and sound effects, etc. However, for the time being the problem of search engine friendliness to Flash still remains partially unsolved. That is why it is necessary to use Flash very accurately without overdoing it.
Larger fonts, bigger buttons
Again, we are returning to the idea of usability of web sites. All the content on a modern web site should be easily readable, clearly understandable, and quickly accessible. Hence, larger fonts and bigger buttons seem to be nice and proper options to achieve that goal. Today, with the existing options of font-embedding, it is easier for designers to make use of all the power of efficient typography. The era of limited number of web-safe fonts seems to decline today, giving way to a large number of versatile and unique fonts. With the evolution of CSS and growing capabilities of web browsers, a designer can now turn a web page into a masterpiece of graphical art, mimicking printed magazine-style layouts and experimenting with rich fonts without compromising the legibility of text.
Colors contrasting, but not aggressive
The choice of colors for backgrounds and text of a website is very important today. Generally speaking, there is a tendency towards paper-style websites, when the content is placed on a clean soft-colored background. Bright contrasting colors are used for logos or buttons, such as “Download”, “Demo”, etc. Sufficient amount of white space is important for visitors to be able to easily find what they came for.
Another mark of today’s web design is wide popularization of mobile devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Android and Bada powered smart phones. This armada of portable devices with web browsing functionality requests web designers to adopt web sites for mobile platforms as well. That is why development of both – traditional and mobile versions of a web site is common today.
Web is no longer about text and images only. Streaming audio and video content is common today. The so-called “media blocks” on web sites are used for a variety of purposes – from adding a personal touch to communication through a website to demonstrating innovative principles of a particular company or project. Furthermore, media content makes web more natural and functional – if you are visiting a website of your favorite radio station or music band, it is definitely an advantage if you are offered an option to listen to the music or watch the video online.
3D effects and transparency
No matter what you think of social networking at sites like Facebook or Twitter, today this seems to be the most popular trend on the Internet. So, if you want to interact with your visitors even more effectively, place the links to your Facebook, Twitter account, or blog and let people choose how to connect with you.
To tell the truth, trying to define current trends in such rapidly developing sphere as web design may be rather ungrateful experience. Every time we recognize some trend setters from the industry of website design, something new appears out there, opening a whole new way to design a web site. However, this is, actually, good, because progress is what we are all interested in. With further popularization of touch screen devices, such as iPad, soon web developers will have to move web design to the next level of its evolution, optimizing web sites for finger touch browsing experience, – thus developing and setting new trends and de-facto standards in web design.