Web Design Trends for 2011
March 11, 2011 § 4 Comments
From time-to-time, clients will ask me what is on the horizon in the world of web design. With that in mind, I give you our design team’s collective thoughts on the web design trends for 2011. What would a blog be without a top 10 list? I haven’t done one yet so here goes…
- Mobile Sites
“If you’re site ain’t mobile, you ain’t goin’ global.” Yeah, I just made that up. Sorry about that. Seriously, your website being mobile ready is becoming more and more important as handheld devices take over. Smaller businesses need to keep mobile in mind when designing their main sites while larger businesses with bigger brands can do full-blown custom mobile sites. Check out the possibilities at Mobile Awesomeness.
- Fat Footers
I know, I know, fat footers in web design have been trending for a few years now. The reason it is on the list for 2011 is, when we do our free website assessments, 90% of the sites we look at don’t have them. Site visitors love them. Google loves them. I love them. For some ideas, check out this fat footer gallery.
- Huge Background Images
This trend is an interesting one and there seems to be two variations. The first is the large photographic background. Two sites we produced fairly recently, Games & Things and Patricia Nash Designs, use this technique well. The second approach is using a background that becomes a visually interesting anchor to the overall layout of a page. A solid example of that approach can be found on the following site we developed: Global Supply Chain.
- Fully Integrated Social Media
In the beginning, there were social media icons or “Chiclets,” as a friend of mine called them. Then came the innovative “Social Hub” we came up with a few years ago (along with a few hundred other designers at the exact same time). And then came Meebo. I was on the TMZ website the other day looking for a Charlie Sheen interview (WINNING!) and stumbled upon it. Meebo is a free third-party tool that adds a social bar at the bottom of your page and enables you to drag and drop selected text and content boxes onto your various social media channels. You can test drive it at AdWeek (try selecting some text and see what happens) and TMZ.com (hover over the video and drag it to see what happens).
- Less Flash Usage
Thank you, Steve Jobs. Because of you, we won’t be using Flash to do simple slideshows anymore. To find out more about this, read my prior article “No Flash on iPhones & iPads and what that means to your website.”
- More Rich Media Advertising
As bandwidth gets even more plentiful and computer processors get so fast it doesn’t even matter anymore, expect to see more innovative ads on consumer websites that will take over the page and engage you in some sort of diversion. Ads for movies seem to really push the envelope lately. For a gallery of some of the most innovative rich media ads, check out the Google’s DoubleClick gallery.
- HTML5 / CSS 3
For most of us, we don’t care about these acronyms. We just want cool content delivered to our web browsers and mobile phones. Well, HTML 5 and CSS 3 are going to do just that and will do so using new standards that will make creating layouts and embedding video easier than ever before. Considering Safari is the only browser that supports these new standards, we may have to wait a bit for the other browsers to catch up and, in turn, developers to develop their apps in them.
- QR Codes
QR, in this case stands for Quick Response. You know, those little bar code like boxes you see in Golf magazine? What are those little things? I thought you’d never ask! QR codes are two-dimensional boxes that enable you to deliver more content to your consumer by giving them the code, which they scan with their mobile phones so they can access a video, web page, or even receive a text message with a special offer. Expect to see a lot more of these things as you flip through People magazine and other mainstream rags. QR codes fully explained.
- Designing for Tablet Computers
iPad 2 came out today and I want one. I wanted the first edition but I figured I would wait. Now the wait is over. I’m sure there are many others out there like me who will get on the band wagon now. Not only is there the iPad but Google will be releasing one and so will Microsoft. Designing for tablets is a lot like designing for kiosks: there’s no mouse so you have to design for a touch screen. There is a whole different set of rules for designing for touch screens. Buttons need to be bigger with more space between them, for example.
- Internet Explorer 6 Support Discontinued
While this may be more wishful thinking on my part (and the part of web designers everywhere), please, please don’t use Internet Explorer 6 anymore. Designing for it is a nightmare of programming exceptions that makes it much more time consuming and expensive to support this 10-year old Netscape Navigator killer. But wait, there’s hope. Microsoft (yes, Microsoft) has created a site called IE6 Countdown and they PROMISE that once worldwide usage dips below 1% they will stop supporting it, which effectively would kill IE6. Or, DIE6, as we like to say.
Whew, those top ten lists take some time to write! I guess that’s why we only do them once a year. If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to contact me.