With every new year, we see new design trends emerge, and old ones fade away. Now that 2011 is wrapping up, its time to look ahead into the ol’ web design crystal ball and see what 2012 has in store for us.
Web Fonts & Typography
In past years, little attention was ever paid to a site’s copy. It was an afterthought, and the only way to have anything close to resembling typography was to cheat it into an image. But now thanks to CSS3, and online font libraries such as Google fonts and Typekit, we can all embrace our inner typographers and create copy that is actually part of the design. You can now rethink almost everything, from line heights to shading.
Large Background Images
A full bleed background image can really make a connection with users. They can be beautiful landscapes, quirky people or product shots, photography or illustrations. Whatever the subject, the bigger the better.
With 3D movies and now even televisions being big business, could the web be far behind? And no, I’m not talking about actual 3D that you need glasses for, but rather the illusion of depth. We will be seeing a lot of this sort of thing, with clever use of shadows, layers, gradients and textures, but perhaps the coolest 3D effect is parallax scrolling. This is where different transparent layers on the background scroll at differing speeds, giving a subtle sense of depth. The effect is really awesome and engaging if done correctly. Parallax scrolling is usually accomplished through CSS and JQuery plugins.
A large focal graphic can be very engaging, and given the interactive nature of sliders, you can really put across a lot of information in a relatively small space. Many smaller companies and personal pages are now opting to use a slider on a one-page layout. This created a nice minimalist effect with a single page, and the slider guides you through the different sections. With all the JQuery plugins available to do this, its not only striking but incredibly easy to pull off.
Illustration is the new photography. Since illustration styles are virtually limitless, they can say a lot about the culture of a company. They can be whimsical, minimalist, detailed, dark or kitschy, and with so many places to buy stock illustrations, you really don’t even have to be an illustrator yourself to take advantage of this trend. But note, if you are going to go the stock route, do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper. Don’t get one that everyone else is using.
Going away are the sterile flat colors of past years. Many websites are going for a more tactile feel, using textures such as linen and paper for a richer experience. Textures can be incorporated into the background, in illustrations, and even in typography, and we are going to be seeing a lot more of it.