New technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3, ever-increasing Internet speeds and improving cross-platform compatibility have made the world of Web design a much more interesting (and complicated) place. The Internet is becoming more multimedia-orientated with high-quality graphics and more immersive interfaces.
That being said, the Internet is constantly changing and evolving. Certain Web design trends which seemed as though they would really take off a few years ago have all but disappeared while others have established themselves as the norm. When it comes to creating your business website, you need to take the time to follow the latest trends and ensure that your site meets the demands and requirements of the modern virtual world. Here are five design trends that have truly taken off in the past few years.
1 – Compatibility with Mobile Devices
Web designers simply cannot afford to ignore the rapid, exponential growth of the mobile Internet market. Accounting for more than twenty per cent of Internet traffic in many countries already, this trend is only set to continue. Having a website which automatically scales to the size of the screen and resolution that it is being displayed on is ideal. This is also good for traditional desktop browsers since it allows users to have two or more websites open at a time and displayed side-by-side. This trend is known as responsive Web design. Sites designed in such a way minimize the use of scrolling, panning and resizing on mobile devices. A website which looks great on any device has a far higher chance of being a successful one!
2 – Integrating Social Media Features
Social media is one of the most important elements of the modern Internet. A huge percentage of Internet users use social media services such as Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis. For some years now, Web designers have placed buttons at the footers of their webpages allowing readers to easily share content they like on their favourite social networking sites. However, Web designers keeping up with the latest trends are starting to find new and more innovative ways to integrate social networking features with their content. Having a small and insignificant-looking row of social media buttons at the bottom of a webpage is no longer ideal. Web designers are starting to seamlessly integrate their social media campaigns with the overall design styles of their websites instead of having an ugly row of bookmarking and sharing buttons which do not match the visual theme of the site.
3 – Parallax Scrolling
Parallax scrolling refers to two or more page objects moving at a different speed when the user scrolls down. For example, the background may remain stationary while the content of the page and the menus move separately. You can even take this further by having other page elements moving at a different speed to the left and/or to the right of the content that the visitor is reading. Parallax scrolling has the potential to bring a whole new level of immersion, greatly enhancing the user experience. However, it is also possible to overuse it. While parallax scrolling is becoming more widely supported, it is also quite resource-intensive. Find some examples here.
4 – Large, High-Quality Background Images
Having a large background image that scales with the size of the browser window or the screen resolution is a great way to create a more immersive user experience. The background image remains static in relation to the actual content of the webpage. While having large background images might be a vast improvement over having a plain white background like many websites, it is also important to ensure that the image is properly compressed so not to slow your site down too much.
5 – Modal Boxes
Modal boxes are unobtrusive and elegant design elements that replace the functionality of the hated (and mostly obsolete) popup window. Modal boxes are scripted effects which provide an overlay to the main webpage. The most common situations in which modal boxes are used are for error alerts, warnings, contact forms, confirmation prompts or simply to provide further information about whatever the user clicked on. You may also have heard of the lightbox. This is a type of modal box which displays an image without opening a new browser window or going to another page when a user clicks on a thumbnail. Find some examples here.