Web Design’s Leading Directions in 2012

One of the fascinations of the  New Year is that we all expect things to change, one way or another. And web design makes no exception… whether is the emergence of some exciting new trends or just the unexpected rise of older ones, we’re all eager to be a part of this feast of  innovative changes.

But no matter what the year will bring for this ever-changing industry, it became clear to us that 2012 will represent a tipping point for web development, and it seems like everyone’s ready to embrace the new technologies to establish their place in history and to please the public’s demanding.

So in order to spoil a little the mystery of this year’s revolutionary breakthroughs, we challenged our intuition and started speculating on the matter…

If on one hand, some changes are hard (if not impossible) to predict, we don’t need to own a crystal ball to know for sure that mobile traffic will continue to blossom unstoppably and mobile web-based applications will indisputably dominate this year’s leading directions. Everyone will want to see their websites shining on mobile devices, challenging designers to flick their magic wands and make the right adjustments.

As for Flash, its days of glory are slowly passing into history, making way for responsive design and device APIs, as designers start realizing the importance of everlasting compatibility with any mobile device imaginable.

So after carefully analyzing all the whispers and gossip around the world wide web, here are the most important predictions for 2012 webdesign’s emerging trends:

Custom typography


In the matters of web design, it became clear what we say is no longer sufficient, we have to say it in the right way, with the rightfully designed words… and it seems that handwritten fonts are the new religion of 2012, and font replacement technologies gained, this way, a well deserved central position.

So we shouldn’t underestimate the power of custom typography, since nowadays it is already considered by many great designers to be an important art form, one that in fact is very difficult to master.

And one of the most significant parts in the process of developing beautiful custom typography is to gain awareness of the importance of the fonts’ competent implementation, considering that designers are still experimenting and enthusiastically discovering new technologies, this trend being mostly popular among WordPress designers.

One way to discover impressive fonts and to give them a creative use in your beautifully designed websites is to search among the already existing online font libraries, like Fontdeck, Monotype, Typekit, or the one generously displayed by Adobe. This way, you’ll have access to a wonderland of impressing fonts awaiting to add substance to your meaningful content.

Responsive design

One of the freshest and most exciting concepts in web design is creating fluid layouts for websites – the so called responsive design.

In fact, this is far from being a new concept, but the universal feeling is that this trend is about to reach a turning point, finally finding a place in designers’ current vocabulary, continuing, in 2012 to shape up, until reaching its finest forms and becoming a leading direction for future design innovations.

So the most impressive efforts in web design are now concentrating on raising the user experience to a new level, focusing on improving it and on displaying relevant content in a fluid layout, compatible with ever-changing displays.

And since the world market is swarming with all kinds of mobile devices with widely various abilities, mobile browsing claimed its supremacy for some time now, transforming the concept of fluid layouts into one of the most significant challenges for 2012. This way, CSS3 media queries is no longer a luxury of those with spare time to experiment, becoming an imperative must, forcing designers to take a chance on it and start seeing  beyond fixed-width design.

And it’s not about fitting the website on different screens, it’s about adjusting the content to new dimensions in the most fluid way, keeping it unspoiled by different resolutions.

Native mobile applications

Another trend in web design is the increased interest in developing native mobile applications. Using the newest media technologies, developers have now more tools than ever  to experiment with for applications design and moreover, the possibilities of prototyping with CMS became very attractive.

The most common direction in this matter is to replace large libraries (widely used until now) with native JavaScript, developing advanced mobile applications.

With such a wide variety of mobile devices and considering the significant differences between their performance and sophistication levels, there’s a widespread trend of adopting mixed (native/HTML5) applications, offering mobile users the possibility of accessing content with cross-device technologies.

As for web designers, many of them are now supporting the idea of creating different versions of websites for mobile use purposes.

HTML 5 and other media queries

For some time now, Flash has fallen into disgrace among web designers. Considered once irreplaceable and exciting, now designers went looking for something else to design complex animated graphics with… something new and blossoming, like HTML5, CSS3 or jQuery technologies, these tools offering the high-performance experience and being, on top of it, considered to be the new web standards.

And as days go by, the rise of the mobile browsing experience and its supremacy over the traditional web browsing becomes irrefutable, making the new media queries technologies even harder to ignore, and even the most stubborn conservatives will have to give in and embrace the new progressive enhancement.

Bridging different platforms and APIs in the most elegant way, HTML5 became an incredibly appealing cross device option and designers’ favorite development technology, everyone following the “new cool trend”, many of them putting Flash into oblivion, forgetting, though, that Flash is still one of the most useful tools in the process of creating engaging experiences.

And since the support for HTML5 is no longer a barrier for web development, in 2012 we’ll be facing an extended excitement in its implementation on different platforms, uncovering its potential.

In the end…

And as we eagerly wait for this year’s mysterious directions in web design to surprise us, one thing is for 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.