Web 2.0 dominates. Everywhere and all the time. The new design trends are there, in front of you and me, on the blog you’ve come from and on the blog you are going to visit next. Every now and again we find new design elements which somehow manage to become essential for every hip, trendy, glossy, stylish web-site which will be developed in the era of its majesty Web 2.0.
With this article we start a series of articles about the latest design trends and patterns a web-developer should keep in mind, designing his new web-site.
Presenting services and end-products to potential customers, web-designers tend to stick to simplicity. The information provided by clients has to be explained in an understandable way. A web-developers should make sure the user understands instantly, what the company is offering, what are users’ adventages and what is actually required for using the service.
What is interesting is the fact that one can see the same familiar form of process visualization over and over again. You don’t see a huge list with requirements (in fact, usually you’ll find them on the bottom of the page, written in font size 7px or even smaller) or detailed .pdf-manuals on a front page. What you usually see are three-steps- and easy-to-go-badges in the center of the pages – they describe exactly what has to be done to use the service in few clicks. The use of graphics is essential and obligatory. Also Flash is often used to attract the attention of the users.
Badges and Flowers
Probably one of the most popular trends in the era of Web 2.0 are “Badges” with various round and square corners and modified flowers, we used to find on milk packages in the 90s.
Have you tried to find at least one released Web 2.0 service? Browsing through the swarm of Web 2.0-sites you are more likely to find a beta-version than a released one. Ironically, just like few years ago, new ideas are born every day. But today they are realized instantly – and presented to the public as a beta-version.
Of course, “Beta”-stage delivers many advantages for developers. Being “Beta” means being incomplete and therefore – being allowed to offer the functionality which will – and probably – should be improved in the near future – just the way user would like it to be. In this way it is easier to prevent complaints, gain the attention of curious users and win some time for further development.
The label “Beta” has become some kind of trademark for something new and exciting. Over the last year it has almost become a standard for new projects and is often presented in bright and eye-catching colours together with the logotype of the site – intentionally, of course.
Tag Clouds can simplify the navigation or confuse the visitors. Used effectively, they can provide help and emphasize the main topics and themes being tackled in a blog. However, sometimes they simply don’t fit and make both readability and usability more difficult: mainly, if web-typography isn’t used properly or basic rules are breached (i.e. line-height hasn’t been defined in em’s, but in px’s).
Large Input Fields
Not a single web-developer would dare to do it few years ago, especially because not every browser would present input fields properly. In the meanwhile, it isn’t a problem any more and web-developers make use of it. Web forms are changing, legends and fieldsets become more and more popular, and large input fields appear like mushrooms after a rainy day – here some examples of them.
Quite unusual design decision. Actually, it is an input field of a search engine seekum.com.
The presentation of headers has become an important style element of every web-page. Image headers tend to be replaced by text-based headers – CSS does its work perfectly. The time of mini-headers is over, the opposite becomes more and more apparent – and sometimes extremely exaggerated. Enormous fonts can be found not only in headers, but also in navigation menus and brief texts.
Actually, there is a reason why we love rounded corners. This elements simplifies the readability and makes the understanding of presented information easier. In fact, rounded corners are used by emerging web-sites and young projects. All page elements become more round – navigation menus, buttons, input fields, tables and text columns.
Rounded corners with sharp shadows: cluckoo.com
Rounded corners everywhere: zimbra.com