Web Design Trends 2011 and Beyond

Today’s Web design landscape is dominated by one principle — design goes far beyond its traditional definition.

No longer are Web designers simply charged with choosing colors and images and ensuring the website looks “slick” or that buttons take users to the proper Web page. The job of a designer now includes everything from SEO to e-commerce. The increased demands on designers to create full experiences — not just Web pages — are what drive trends; trends that soon become standards.

Video and HTML5
Any designer or any person in general who might seek information about HTML5 will quickly discover that most of the buzz is about video. In short, HTML5 provides a means to display video in any format, using any browsing method. So, where operating systems such as that for the iPhone and iPad will not support certain video, HTML5 ensures the video will be seen — whether on a small screen or a desktop browser.

Why is this such a big deal? It’s simple — video is quickly dominating the user experience and adding tremendous value to businesses of all types.

A concern many businesses have about video, however, is that of resources. Most businesses don’t have big creative agencies at their disposal. The chances of developing the next Old Spice Guy series or “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign are slim. But every business has opportunity with video simply because users are reading less and watching more.

JB Kellogg is Production Manager and Creative Director for MadWire Media, chosen as Big Commerce’s top design firm. He has seen the power of video. “We’ve lived it,” says Kellogg. After years without Web video on their site, MadWire finally incorporated a basic video that simply introduced viewers to the company and its services. “Our amount of leads from the traffic we were driving to our site increased by about 400 percent. Just that one video saved users the time of looking through our site. It gave the message to them in about a minute and a half; it was real quick, upbeat and cheery … that’s all they needed. They filled out the lead form right there and started moving forward with the Web design quote process.”

While the next great viral video hit might not be in your future, simple video — such as product demonstrations, company announcements or testimonials — can result in a big lift in sales, leads or readership. Accessible video — and therefore, HTML5 — is now a design imperative.

Typography and Fonts
Spending your valuable time concentrating on fonts, the actual appearance of words on a page, might sound trivial. But branding on the Web is a tricky business — because of the low barrier to entry, every industry is already competitive. Fonts, and a good designer, can be an important way to separate your brand from the rest.

The trouble with fonts in the past is that very few of them were “readable” by search spiders. In essence, if you wanted a coollooking design with fonts you had to sacrifice SEO. Not anymore.

“If you want to have a custom look, in the old days you had to use an image, which isn’t effective for search engine optimization,” explains Kellogg. “You still want that to be readable text by Google and Bing. Now, instead of using images to display a custom font, you can use a Web font — which search engines love.” Tools like Typekit allow designers to choose the fonts they want (even hand-written fonts) and Typekit will generate the search engine-readable text for your website.

Designing for Every Screen
One of big challenges facing designers now and for years to come is the complete lack of a standard screen size — smartphones, tablets, netbooks and desktop computers each have different screen sizes and often several variances within the same category. As such, it’s important to make sure designs are optimized for every visitor regardless of the device.

One of the hottest trends in website design is minimalism, using as few elements as possible while still achieving the goal. Varied screen sizes will continue that trend. From a user perspective, the less zooming, pinching or clicking on tiny page elements, the better. Another advantage of a minimalist design is the appearance of being user-friendly in previews, such as Google Instant Previews in search results. If a user hovers over a search result and the image looks cluttered with dozens of images and headlines and hordes of links, it’s an easy decision to move on to the next listing without ever visiting the website. However, be very deliberate when using minimal designs. It is crucial that the most important calls-to-action remain prominent.

Death of the Fold
“With so many different browsers and screen resolutions now … what is the fold?” asks Kellogg. “If [users] want to learn more about a product, rather than clicking something people are willing to scroll down.” Increasingly, “the fold” is disappearing from the design lexicon. Instead, the Web is seeing more single-page designs, often with slide anchor navigation or jQuery to automatically scroll down a page when the user clicks a navigation button. As with minimal design, it remains important to place important elements of a page — including calls-to-action and mission statements — as near the top of the page as possible.

Designing for Social
Social media has not only changed the way business is conducted on the Web, but design, too. It is rare to see a Web page that does not incorporate social sharing functions such as “tweet this” or “like this page on Facebook,” as well as widget that might display recent tweets or wall comments.

But social is not limited to content pages. Perhaps taking a page from the success of Groupon and other coupon sites, e-commerce websites are also getting more social. Kellogg gives an example of designing the “Thank You” page to increase sales by offering 10 percent off if consumers share the product page with their friends, even offering 10 percent of their purchases, too.

Trends come and go. But in the Web design industry trends drive transactions, impact SEO, dictate usability and generate profits. For these reasons it is important that a business’ Web designer is not only up on trends but is a partner in the planning stages of marketing campaigns and product development, and communication objectives so that every possible resource can achieve its maximum potential on the Web

Source of Information : Website Magazine for April 2011

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