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Top 2012 web design trends – part one

Website design has come a long way since since the time of bulky monitors, all far deeper than their than screen size was wide. From the earliest iterations of the Internet, designers have been dreaming of the freedom to create visually compelling websites without the constraint of small screens, limited bandwidth, poor browser compatibility and clunky styling. As technology and programming languages have evolved, so, thankfully, has web design.

The year 2012 has seen the introduction of some interesting new styles and programming methods, as designers and developers eagerly experiment with the new capabilities of HTML 5. Here are some of the more popular web design trends of the past year:

1. Big stuff. Big pictures, big type, big spaces. As more people are browsing with high-resolution monitors and high-speed connections, the elements that make up websites have gotten bigger. Large images that fill the whole screen, big type that is a graphic in and of itself and larger fonts for body copy are all hallmarks of this trend. With bigger graphic elements has come an increased use of white space on a micro and macro level. Groups of content are separated and emphasized by large margins, and text itself has more space between individual lines of copy, headlines and lists. This gives websites a more open, clean feel, even if they contain a lot of information, making it easier for users to take it all in and navigate easily. Links to consider:

http://unionstationdenver.com/
http://www.ipolecat.com/
http://www.stantonlawllc.com/

2. Interesting typography. Print design has long been known for creative ways of displaying text, an option previously unavailable to web designers without the use of bulky graphics that slowed load time and harmed SEO. But web font foundries like Google Fonts and Typekit, among many others, have eliminated the need to keep to a limited number of “web-safe” fonts. With so many fonts available – from display, to handwritten to good-old sans serif – typography online has flourished. Fonts can be chosen with an eye for creating the perfect emotional impact and setting the right mood to appeal to visitors. Some examples of typography heavy sites:

http://nzopera.com/
http://www.hellobar.com/
http://www.yesnurse.co.uk/

3. Responsive design. Desktop screens keep getting bigger, and mobile devices continue to become more popular. With more and more people viewing a website on a variety of devices, it has become important that a site look good on a large display monitor, a small phone and everything in between. People are also beginning to use some mobile devices, like tablets, in a variety of situations and choosing to use them even when a laptop or desktop machine is readily available. Responsive websites will automatically resize and adjust their layouts to fit the width of the screen of whatever device a visitor is using. The goal of responsive design is to recognize what is being used and display the layout accordingly, helping a site to reach the widest possible audience. Take a look at these sites on multiple devices:

http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/

http://www.anderssonwise.com/
http://clearairchallenge.com/

Parallax scrolling. Parallax scrolling is the technique used to make different items on a page, usually background and foreground elements, move at different speeds. Sometimes you will notice that the background of a page does not move at all as you continue to scroll through information. On others, the navigation will begin to scroll but then stop and rest someplace on the page so that users can continue to have access to important links as they move down the page. And still other sites employ an effect where both the navigation and background move fluidly as the user scrolls – but not at the same speed. Parallax scrolling can be used to help simplify navigation by always keeping the most important action items accessible to visitors. Some parallax scrolling examples:

http://www.milliontrees.ca/

https://victoriabeckham.landrover.com/INT

http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/

These are four of the top seven trends we have identified for 2012. Stay tuned for part two.

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