Just a few years ago, the idea of accessing the Internet on a mobile device was laughable. Sure, the technologies were there, but they just did not perform like laptops and desktop PCs. This left mobile Internet browsing relegated to obtaining quick information or a last resort when other methods were unavailable. Fast forward to 2013 and you find devices capable of displaying complex content and bringing a true, enjoyable web browsing experience to the mobile market. Studies even suggest that mobile browsing could surpass traditional computer-based browsing in the coming years.
The past year saw many changes in the worlds of web design and web development. Mobile devices, HTML5, CSS3 and other technologies opened up new doors and changed existing standards in many ways. Trends for 2013 will continue to build upon but much of the groundwork was laid in 2012 as the Internet evolved from a platform designed for large screens and computers to a platform that is used with a variety of inputs, devices and interfaces. These six trends will likely shape the face of the Internet and how web design is approached for years to come.
1. Responsive Design
With the sheer difference in form and function between mobile devices and traditional computers, there are changes that must be made to websites and applications to make them easy to use and mobile-ready. Responsive design is the process of designing a site that dynamically adapts to various display sizes and input types to provide a cohesive user experience regardless of the device or platform being used. While typically considered mobile optimization, this will also provide increased benefit as resolutions and screen sizes for traditional computers continue to increase. Core pieces of responsive design include scalable layouts, dynamic content and simplified interfaces.
2. The Continued Rise of Minimalist Designs
The push for minimalist web designs is directly influenced by the demand for responsive and mobile designs. Complex interfaces, animations and effects can be harder to integrate into responsive designs with positive results. This shift is also due to change in the average browsing habits of web users. Web site visitors are busier than ever. If they have to sort through pages of menus, graphics, animations and other extras to get to the information or products for which they are searching, they are likely to jump to another site instead. Minimalist design requires careful consideration for navigation, branding and other parts of the user experience. However, when designed well, a minimalist page will make the content, products and information that it contains the star of the show.
3. Increased Interactivity
With the rise in mobile device adoption came the apps. When a user can simply tap their screen, access a dedicated app and perform virtually any task, from paying bills to making reservations at their favorite restaurant, website becomes somewhat archaic in comparison. To compete with web and mobile apps, web designers and developers are including additional features and interactivity in their site designs. From mobile HTML optimizations for maps or contact information to dynamic content and NFC-enabled page elements, these features will likely become a standard part of the web design toolkit for 2013.
4. Endless Pages
Taking a hint from Tumblr and Pinterest, many sites are beginning to integrate infinite scrolling into their page designs. By eliminating both horizontal scrolling and pagination, site users can access additional information by simply scrolling to the bottom of the website. This shows further influence from the mobile sector as tapping tiny buttons and waiting for the next section to load can dampen the user experience on small displays or slower mobile connections. Though this will not be a perfect fit for all sites, many web 2.0 designers and developers will likely be adding this trick to their arsenal in the coming year.
5. CSS3 and Integrated Media
HTML5 and CSS3 offer a wealth of media and user experience options for web designers without the need for embedding, plug-ins or additional resources. Since many of the elements are rendered with the page, it also helps to create a unified experience across multiple devices and platforms. As features mature, the majority of formatting and interface design will likely migrate directly into the code of the page and rendered on demand. This creates smaller pages, faster load times, cleaner code and more efficient management of web design projects. Though image editing software and other multimedia tools will always be a necessity for most web designers, these tools are making it possible to do more directly within the code.
6. UX over UI
With so many changes to the way the websites are designed and displayed, you might think that elaborate user interfaces are emerging as well. The truth is that interfaces are becoming simpler, increasingly streamlined and offering core features with little fluff. The emphasis for many sites is now in the user experience. Using colors, advanced typography, dynamic CSS3 buttons and responsive layouts web designers offer powerful ways to influence the user experience, grab the attention of readers, create action and guide the browsing session.
The way users view the Internet is evolving rapidly. Web design trends for 2013 serve to reflect this fact. As the Internet becomes a service available on more devices and used with increasing frequency, web designers will need to account for changes in how their sites are accessed, viewed and how users interact with them.
About the Author: When Lucy Wright isn’t writing about Icon ID sign solutions, she’s consulting small business owners. She has worked in marketing and advertising in Chicago for the last 5 years. Lucy has 2 daughters and loves to teaching them about the great big world around them.