Web Design TrendsBefore I get into the trends that are shaping the Internet I want to explain why we should be concerned about trends. Talking about trends, one would think of “fads” that come and go. Web design trends should be about ways you can design and build a website that will help the user have a better experience. There are many trends, but I will be focusing on three of them: responsive layouts, fixed navigation, and minimalist design. I’ll discuss how your website/company can benefit from at least one of them or a combination of all three.
Responsive Web Design
“Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.” - Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It by Kayla Knight (http://coding.smashingmagazine.com/2011/01/12/guidelines-for-responsive-web-design/)
The statistics of mobile Internet usage have grown tremendously in the past 3 years. “Global mobile traffic now represents roughly 13% of Internet traffic.” - 5 Eye-Opening Stats That Show The World Is Going Mobile by Parmy Olsen
(http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/12/04/5-eye-opening-stats-that-show-the-world-is-going-mobile/) In 2009 it was only 1%. It isn’t enough to have a website that functions properly on a desktop computer. Now, to reach everyone your website should work on all devices. Responsive design is a way to reach multiple target audiences and present your company/product/service with the most efficiency. An example of how responsive design can be effective would be if a client/customer needed information on your company, but was away from his/her computer. A responsive website would allow this person to retrieve the information on your site quickly via a mobile device.
Fixed navigation isn’t a new trend, but it has become more popular recently. Fixed navigation (also known as “Sticky Navigation”) allows the user to scroll down the page without losing site of the navigation. Normally, the fixed navigation is positioned at the top of the screen. The benefit of having this type of navigation is that the user can access all the pages more quickly than having to scroll to the top of the page every time they need to go to a new page. There are also many other creative ways fixed positioning can be used. For example, if you want your customer to always see the “contact us” button to open a quick contact form it can remain sticky on the side of the page.
Minimal design is a complex trend in that it has been interpreted many ways. I see the importance of minimal design as helping the end user quickly find what he/she is looking for by clearing the design of unnecessary graphics, elements, colors and content. Minimal design, when executed well, can have a powerful effect on the user. Having fewer elements on your website allows you to place what is most important in the forefront. Putting as much information on the homepage as possible may have a negative impact on user experience. Minimal design can transform the user experience from overwhelmed to intrigued and wanting to know more by browsing the site.
The Internet is a rapidly evolving organism that is oversaturated with websites that scream to get you and your client or customer’s attention. To stand out from the crowd online you want to make sure that your target audience finds what they need easily and quickly while providing some level of interactivity to keep them interested enough to want to connect with you or buy your product or service.
Here are a few example websites that utilize responsive web design:
Here are some example websites using fixed navigation:
Here are some example websites using minimal design:
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