2012 Web Design Trends

February 8, 2012 | Design Trends

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As we move through 2012 it’s interesting to look at some of the current trends in web design. Some of these are good, others are annoyingly bad. But as we know, these are called trends because they don’t last forever.

1. The rise (and fall?) of the new pop up window

There was time, in the early days of web browsing, when pop-up windows would jump out at you as you paged through a web site. This was very annoying because it blocked your view of the web site you wanted and left your desktop littered with small browser windows. Then the browsers allowed us to check a settings box and block pop-up windows.

Unfortunately, there is a new type of pop-up graphic that is not blocked with this setting. I’m sure you’ve seen these slick boxes that pop-up, yet are not full browser windows. Sometimes they are referred to as modal boxes. They often are asking you to join an email list.

I find these annoying and even appalling. However, research shows they are extremely effective so I think we’re going to see these rise in popularity before they plummet. However, I’m predicting NOW that we will look at back at these with disdain. They will be viewed along with other web viewing hindrances such as flash intros or home screens that you must “enter.”

2. Simple, focused home page design

I think we’ll continue to see small businesses reduce the amount of content on their home pages and focus on their key messages. We started seeing this trend flourish with some many Saas (cloud based software) products over the past couple of years. They offered their online services in a clear and compelling way with a simple navigation to get more info.

Now businesses are realizing that this trend can be very effective for their web sites as well. It can be tempting to have all sorts of content, many times in the name of SEO, filling your home page. Try to get one clear message out there using straightforward language and simple, compelling graphics. The result will probably be a much more effective brand message and better results.

3. Longer, scrolling home pages

Am I contradicting myself? No.

Because of the limited viewing space of browser windows, the first view of a home page can be very simple. Yet, the viewer can scroll down to see more. It seems like after years of people thinking they hated scrolling. They realize it’s really not that difficult!

4. One page, jquery-based, scrolling web sites

This is a continuation of #3 above. If an organization does not need a web site with many pages, than a one-page scrolling site can be very effective. Using some jquery to make the anchor links scroll gracefully, a one page site becomes clean, compelling and able to make a strong statement without having to force the viewer to click around unnecessarily.

I’m seeing this technique with the most simple web site designs, as well as some that are very graphically rich.

5. Much more interesting typography

For most of the history of web site design, web designers were stuck with the handful of web safe fonts found on most computers. But recently, typography on the web has been revolutionized by the @font-face tag and a rapidly growing list of available web fonts. Read this post if you want to learn more about typography for the web.

Of all the web trends that we’re seeing, this is the one we’re most excited about. The ability to choose and work with a large number of fonts is key to the way designers think. It brings the finesse of print to the web. We’ve been starting to add at least one of these new web-safe fonts to every web site design we complete.

 

What web design trends are you seeing?

 

4 comments

  1. Christelle | February 14, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Nice post, it will be interesting to look back at it in a year or so to see what is still applicable 🙂
    It would have been a good idea to include some examples of websites for each of the categories you mentioned. Maybe I start with No 4 with a link to this Swiss Agency I like: http://www.netinfluence.com
    Actually they also cover No 2 and No 5.
    I am a also big fan of seeing interesting fonts on websites and I agree that it instanly makes the design much more interesting.

  2. Emily Brackett | February 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Christelle, thanks for your comment. You did sort of call me out, as I should’ve included some samples (either links or screenshots). I agree, your sample covers a lot of what I’m talking about with simplified, scrolling designs.

  3. Siobhan | November 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm

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