In the ever-changing virtual world, Web designers constantly need to be on the lookout for ways that they can improve their websites. When we look at how the average webpage looked only a few years ago, the distinctions that set modern websites apart look ever more obvious.
With HTML5 and CSS3 becoming more and more popular, Web designers have far more power at their fingertips to create unique, engaging and highly interactive websites. Those who choose to ignore the trends will end up being left behind in the highly competitive and changeable world of Web design. Whether you are designing a new website from scratch or retrofitting an old one, at least some of the following trends are likely to be worth paying attention to.
Getting Ready for Microsoft Windows 8
Throughout 2013, most Windows users around the world will be upgrading to Windows 8 and the vast majority of new computers will come with the operating system preinstalled. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first truly scalable operating system being designed to work on touchscreen devices such as tablet computers and even smaller mobile devices in addition to the standard desktop and notebook computers. The reason why Microsoft has gone down this route is simple. More and more people are surfing the Internet from devices other than their bulky desktops and notebooks. Touchscreens are rapidly becoming the norm.
Windows 8 comes with Internet Explorer 10 which provides an immersive full-screen browsing experience complete with greatly improved support for HTML5, CSS3 and hardware acceleration. Windows 8 also introduces an entirely new user interface dubbed “Metro.” This new interface presents the greatest change to the way the user interacts with the operating system since the launch of Windows 95 when it did away with the program manager and introduced the taskbar and start menu.
This concerns Web designers in a variety of ways. 2013 will see an emphasis on emulating the Metro design style. Web designers will need to pay attention to making their sites look good in the new operating system and on a wide variety of different computing devices. Larger touch-friendly buttons and menus and immersive content will reign supreme. As with the new Windows interface, websites will also need to move away from the traditional icon-based design styles and place more emphasis on typography. Web designers will also need to pay attention to the motion and scrolling aspects of their sites since many people visiting them will be using touchscreen devices.
Responsive Web Design
While many websites will benefit by being inspired by the new design styles of Windows 8, they will also need to pay attention to the evermore important aspect of responsive Web design and modular layouts. Responsive Web design refers to making a site which automatically scales to the screen resolution that it is being displayed on. This means that your website will automatically look good on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Many people will still prefer the big screen browsing experience, however, so it is important to design your site from the top down rather than degrading its quality so that it is optimized only for mobile devices and nothing more.
2011-2012 saw the rapid growth of responsive websites but there have also been problems and complications along the way. 2013 will introduce many new ways and design styles to more easily create responsive websites. The old-style websites which are designed at a specific resolution will no longer be adequate. After all, those using mobile browsers prefer not to be constantly scrolling left and right just to read a single line of text. Instead, it should fit automatically in accordance with the screen size or the size of the browser window on traditional computers.
Websites optimized for vertical scrolling are better for any viewers, particularly those using mobile devices to browse the Web. It provides a more user-friendly, efficient and interactive way of experiencing a website. Readers should be able to scroll down the page, either by using their mouse wheel or by touch, and be able to access the menus without having to return to the top of the page. This means that the menu bars and buttons should scroll automatically down the page so that they’re always immediately accessible to the reader. Likewise, page elements such as social media buttons, calls to action and shopping carts should also move as the viewer scrolls down.
Some websites take vertical scrolling considerably further, such as by introducing animations, messages and events as the reader scrolls down the site.