Now that the excitement for predictions and the mystery enveloping the beginning of a new year has faded, we can now see with more clarity the leading directions for web design for 2013.
In an industry that is changing with the blink of an eye, although everybody is trying to come up with innovative solutions and new technologies, there are actually some universally accepted trends guiding web designers’ steps.
Are you ready to master some cool new techniques and to gain new skills? Because we wandered the world wide web for insights on the most exciting and challenging trends emerging this year and found some pretty great directions.
While some of the trends blossoming in 2013 are only establishing their undeniable dominance once and for all, other make a first surprising appearance, challenging designers to flick their magic wands and embrace the novelty.
1. Responsive Web Design All Over Again
Indisputable one of the hottest topics regarding web design directions at the beginning of 2012, it seems like the year that passed was merely a starting point for this one, making designers come to a threshold where responsive layout is no longer a fashion statement, but a must.
Since everybody wants a website running smoothly on all environments, and new platforms pop up like corks these years, it is only a matter of time until designers will have to face the fact that it is futile to design a layout for each platform in part – so it’s time to make room for that one design to rule them all.
And it’s not about folding down the design to fit tablets and various handheld displays anymore, designers also have to think about scaling it to even larger displays – just imagine you need to fit your website to the upcoming Apple TV set… Challenging, right?
(image from The Next Web)
2. The Power of Typography
We know everybody said 2012 will be the big year for typography – and we dare to say it was – but that was just the beginning of an era… as web design is starting to make its way towards a rather minimalistic approach, typography becomes more than ever an irreplaceable design element.
Intensively focused on content, web design is now raising typography to more than just displaying information in a pleasant way: typography is now selling you a story. And since the fonts used on websites no longer depend on what’s installed on our local computers, typography has more personality and power than ever.
As the enthusiasm for typography becomes stronger, we will witness a lot of meaningful acquisitions and improvements among the already existing online font libraries – everyone is already really excited about Monotype – who’s taking over Typecast and Typekit – who’s negotiating a merger with Linotype.
3. The Retina Display Takes Over
Short after Apple introduced the latest generation of high-resolution displays – the already famous Retina Display – everybody fell in love with it and it almost instantly became the new standard on all devices, from handholds to tablets and laptops.
And it was all perfect and very exciting until web designers realized that while the images were beautifully displayed on all devices with Retina display, these high-resolution images were slowing down loading speed while offering no benefits at all on normal displays.
So one logical solution was to find a way to selectively serve these trouble-making high-resolution images only to devices with Retina display – but as we all know, none of the web browsers have such a built-in mechanism. And then retina.js came along.
4. Less Is More: The Minimalistic Design
The minimalistic approach on web design has been around for some time now, but it was only when Microsoft decided to adopt it for their Windows 8 release that everyone instantly turned their eyes towards it.
Ready to let sophisticated layouts and unexpected navigation go, web designers prepared to embrace this new direction, armed with vivid color schemes and beautiful basic elements, spreading the trend worldwide.
Perfectly combining simple shapes with highly contrasting icons and beautiful typography, minimalistic design is not only impressively relaxing and intuitive, but it is also offering a pleasant user experience for those loading these websites on smaller touch devices, where the elements have to be big and well defined to offer easy touch&tap browsing.
5. The Ubiquity Of Social Media Badges
In an era where social web is growing phenomenally – becoming the new religion, everybody wants to share everything, anytime and anywhere… So it’s easy to understand why social media badges are the next big thing, becoming an integral part of most of the websites.
While social media sharing buttons at the end of websites’ pages are so last season, these beautifully customized social media badges offer a deeper social media integration for websites, helping readers share photographs, cartoons or any interesting piece of article with a touch of a button.
And design possibilities for these social media badges are infinite.
6. Big Photography Is The New Big Thing
They say a beautiful image is worth a thousand words – but displaying it within 700 pixels usually doesn’t quite do it justice. So when you want to induce a certain feeling or emotion through photography, why not using it at its full dimensions?
And since many designers already manifested their interest and excitement for minimalistic design, what better place to display some inspiring photography than in the background itself, without the fear of over-charging the overall look of the website?
Used until now mostly for websites landing pages, full background photography earned its rightful place in web design, being a perfect solution for creating visually rich layouts for design portfolios and personal websites and offering a deeper connection with the users.
7. Twitter Bootstrap’s Rise
As responsive design becomes more and more popular among developers, creating beautiful responsive websites and applications might get a little tricky if you’re not a code writing geek… and even if you are, using Twitter’s Bootstrap will seriously make everything easier for you.
For those who haven’t already heard about it, Bootstrap is one of the most important web frameworks out there at the moment, which comes with a great amount of tools and features that are helping to improve and enhance the framework.
8. International Typographic Style
Now that generated content and social media are rapidly transforming the web, it became clear to everyone that blinking graphics and heavy animations are no longer of use… So let the era of simplicity and readability begins!
The International Typographic Style – or you might know it as the Swiss style – has been around since 1950s, but has shined in a whole new light once the software giant, Microsoft, decided to use it for its Windows 8 interface.
Fundamentally based on minimal graphics and featuring typography as its central design element, the Typographic International Style seems to gather all the leading design directions into one style.
Could it be that the renewed interest for exciting typography made this trend reborn after all these years, or is it the other way around? Whatever the answer might be, we will undoubtedly see this simplistic approach of the UI spreading all over the world wide web, now that Microsoft brought it into the attention.
9. UX Centered Design
The idea from which the user experience centered design (UX) started from was simple: if you can make the user happy, than you can make him connect with you – and ultimately, what’s most important, buy the services that you are offering.
Being one of the most powerful asset when it comes to product development, understanding customers’ patterns and expectations is the stepping stone for UX centered design… because if you manage to achieve a very good user experience you can then expect to have them positively react to your calls to action.
In the end…
As we eagerly wait for this year’s mysterious directions in web design to surprise us, one thing is certain: no matter what it brings, we’ll be more than happy to experiment and discover new techniques and possibilities, improving our skills in delivering the best design and the best user experience.