Web design must be centered around the web user – creating websites which give users the information they need in an easy and enjoyable way. With the constant advances in technology and web design software, the approach taken to achieve this is constantly changing.
Two of the most important aspects of web design are aesthetics and functionality. Given that web users spend – on average – only 10 seconds on each page, it’s important that the website is attractive and retains the user’s attention. But this shouldn’t come at the cost of functionality where too many graphics, animations and colours make the site confusing and difficult to navigate. The most successful trends are those that combine these two elements so that the aesthetics contribute towards functionality, rather than detracting from it. Here are the top 10 trends in 2012 which achieve this:
- Responsive web design: More web designers are catching onto the fact that users need to be able to interact easily with the website to access its information. Tools like drop down menus, side fly-out menus and pop-up boxes can achieve this goal.
- Fixed position navigation / multi-column menus: When a site has only a few links, it’s more appropriate to use a fixed position navigation bar which stays in the same position on the screen as the user scrolls up and down. For sites which have a large amount of links it’s better to use multi-column menus set in one place on the page.
- Large art / animations: Mozilla’s firefox and Mailchimp’s monkey are great examples of large cartoon art or animations associated with a brand. Everyone likes a loveable looking character and the graphic can fill the site’s aesthetics.
- Free give-aways: Everyone loves getting free stuff! So where web designers have freebies to give away, they make for a great tool of attracting people to the site.
- Pop-up boxes: When a site requires a user to input some information, it’s irritating for the user to have to navigate to another page. Pop-up boxes solve this problem.
- Oversized icons: Made popular by the Mac OS X icon designs, large icons are being seen more and more.
- Ribbons and banners: Used to highlight free downloads or featured content, ribbons and banners are becoming increasingly popular as designers’ capabilities increase.
- Unique fonts: Gone are the days of only using Arial and Georgia alone in designing a website. New and exciting fonts are being used in titles and to highlight premium content.
- Infographics: A picture can say a thousand words. Graphics which can communicate a simple message to even a small child are being used to target the average user.
- Image slideshows: this tool is great for sites selling different products or blogs which need to make use of lots of images.
While capturing the user’s attention is essential, it should be done in a way which doesn’t detract from the site’s focus, striking a balance between aesthetics and functionality in web design while accommodating technology and software improvements.
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