The World Wide Web is a highly visual and interactive environment that is no stranger to the forces of aesthetic change. Trends in web development and design are not only influenced by technological shifts, they are also dictated in great part by what Internet users perceive as effective and delectable.

Take, for example, the heavy use of Flash animations of yore, or the antiquated hit counters at the bottom of the page, or the scripts that change the appearance of the cursor. Those elements have been dismissed as garish and antiquated by web surfers, but in their time they were considered trendy.

Web design trends develop fast, but the inclination of delivering a clean and stylish appearance has not fallen out of favor. The following eight elements of web design are not entirely trendy, in fact, some are destined to become the norm, just like the use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) replaced the use of frames years ago. Let these concepts serve as reminders of what the top designers are expected to incorporate into their work in 2012.

Minimalism

Minimalism web designKeeping website layouts clean and simple is part of a trend that has always presented a strong appeal in the visual arts. From advertising to architecture, visual designers have returned to simplicity whenever opposing trends threaten to topple the less-is-more aesthetic philosophy.

Web designers should learn to embrace the white space background and add color, typography, images and shapes sparingly. This simple approach to design must also extend to the website navigation.

Fonts and Typography

Google Web FontTypographers believe that the World Wide Web is an ideal playground where any message can be easily conveyed through the effective use of fonts.

Now that we are firmly in the second decade of the 21st century, typographers are rejoicing at the variety of custom web fonts cropping up on handsomely designed pages. If there is one thing that web designers should become acquainted with in 2012, it is typography.

A good place to start is Google Web Fonts, a central library of open source fonts that encourages budding typographers to upload their creations, and web designers to peruse the website, select a desired font, copy the code generated by Google, and include it into the font family properties of the website.

HTML5 and CSS3

HTML5 and CSS3Modern web browsers like Google Chrome and Opera began the HTML5 revolution, which is now poised to take over the World Wide Web.

The focus on clean animations and social media interaction make HTML5 an attractive proposition for web designers since it does away with the former constraints of Adobe Flash.

It is important to remember that HTML5 does not animate web pages on its own, it rather requires the use of CSS3 and JavaScript. For novice web developers, it is recommended to jump into the world of jQuery libraries rather than tackling JavaScript right off the bat. Web designers who adopt CSS3 should also include a contingency for compatibility with CSS and older browsers.

Responsive Web Design

The proliferation of smartphones, tablet computers and other Internet-connected devices are making responsive web design a standard.

It is not fair to call it a trend, since it is currently a necessity, and in the future it will be accepted as the norm for all websites. The principles of responsiveness observe and respect the fact that users expect fluid layouts that adjust to different screen sizes and display content accordingly.

Responsive web design calls for the use of different CSS and JavaScript strategies to smartly resize web pages. The principles of minimalistic web design are usually well-suited to responsive web design.

(Further reading: Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It)

5 – Column Navigation

Dropdown and sidebar menusWhenever web projects called for a lot of links in the past, dropdown and sidebar menus were the most sensible solution to avoid overcrowding of links on the page. A more reasonable and stylish solution for 2012 can be achieved with the use of multiple columns oriented at the top of the page.

One solution is to neatly arrange the navigation links into short columns on either side of the page logo. The use of sidebars and menus arranged across the bottom of the page is still valid, but keeping the essential navigation links at the top is preferred.

Fixed Position Navigation

Fixed Position NavigationThe explosion of content across the World Wide Web has resulted in a lot of downward scrolling. This is particularly noticeable on blogs that are constantly updated with fresh content.

Fixed navigation design calls for the effective use of elements such as floating menu bars that remain in place as visitors explore the website and content without having to scroll back up. Fixed position navigation is ideal for websites that have a few navigation links that can follow the visitor around, remaining visible but otherwise not intrusive.

Web designers can use JavaScript to stick navigation bars in place, but several CSS templates include code to achieve a static menu effect. It is interesting to note that Microsoft is employing a similar approach to fixed navigation through the use of Live Tiles on its Windows 8, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live platforms.

Distinct Geometric Shapes

Keeping with the above-mentioned example of Microsoft using Live Tiles in its new and future operating systems, a web design trend to watch in 2012 involves the use of squares and circles in lieu of the MS Windows and Apple OSX graphic user interface paradigm of the past.

In the Web 2.0 era, web designers sought to recreate the familiar look and feel of a desktop to make the visitor comfortable. The popularity of the Apple iOS and Google Android has moved some designers to create pages with small icons arranged like apps on a smartphone menu.

The contrarian trend of using circular shapes to present navigation and content is emerging in 2012, and it is likely to spread thanks to CSS3. Page elements suitable for circular shapes include small badges, logos, navigation links and pictures.

Scalable Vector Graphics

In keeping with the principles of responsive web design, scalable vector graphics (SVGs) are expected to keep computer graphic designers busy. The idea stems from the fact that original, well-designed SVGs look great in modern high-resolution monitors and portable screen.

SVGs create an excellent opportunity for branding since they can be adopted as logos and icons. A good SVG can become the face of a business, and it can be anthropomorphized for future transformations and animations.

Good examples of vector graphics and their effective utilization include the large red “O” letter used by Opera Software, the different treatments given to the Twitter bluebird mascot, and the different characters used by the Mozilla Foundation for their different open source software products.nah

10 thoughts on “8 Ways to Give Your Website that 2012 Look and Feel it Deserves”

  1. I’m not a web designer :) but as a general user, I like to visit a website which looks clean and nice… and have easy navigation options, and this blog has all these qualities.

  2. Thanks for the tips. There’s nothing worse than reading a blog that looks like its stuck in the 90s! I haven’t used HTML5 yet but it looks quite easy to use so I’ll have a go at it when I have the time.

  3. I have two websites and both are performing well and the reason behind that good designing and best content. I have read your article and truly speaking that it was really beneficial for newbies. I am impressed with your post keep it up and keep continue with your valuable thoughts.

  4. These are good trends. Simply minimalism and crisp fonts alone can make a world of difference on a site’s presentation and readability.

  5. Simply this means that you need to be updated on the World Wide Web not only for the contents but the components and elements of a website. I do agree that, it must be simple. Imagine a website with different colors on it, or different font styles, it’s unpleasant to read or to view. As what I have said, websites need to be updated also on the elements of the site like updated HTML to avoid conflicts on updated browsers.

  6. I think that layout depends on the website’s topic. My blog for example, that relates to wellness and health, must be clean and simple. I want my visitor to feel calm when he lands to my website and I let my content talk. So I keep the “less is more” as my quote. Thank you for sharing :)

  7. Making sure your fonts are clear to read and your website is easy to navigate around is key for anyone to return to it. I always make sure my websites are compatible with smart phones as they are growing increasingly and are only going to get bigger.

  8. Great tips here, I lveo the fact your blog is so easy to read and also really clean and tidy! I hate trying to read blogs that are all over the place!

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