The design influence is merely a reflection of our culture and expectations for user interfaces. Ideally these trends represent favorable ideas in the web design community. However designers will always have their own opinions when it comes to design terms, so take these ideas with a grain of salt.
Responsive web design has been changing to ultimately come to a threshold where layouts are designed to match all forms of digital media. The idea is to support all devices from laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and anything released in the future.
Along with responsive support for website layouts I have also seen a dramatic rise in people building for retina devices. Apple first engineered this idea with the iPhone 4 and has since applied this screen display onto their other devices, including the iPad and some MacBooks.
Retina screens are basically twice as dense as any average LCD. So they are the same number of physical pixels, but digitally twice as many pixels can be fitted into the same physical space.
Fixed Header Bars
Using the CSS position: fixed; property is a great way to staple a header bar onto your website. As visitors scroll down your page this will offer constant support for navigation and a trip back to the home page. This trend has been around for a while but now we are seeing this in full force.
Fixed headers are so interesting because they can work on practically any website. This includes social networks, blogs, and even design studios or private companies. The design is very trendy and looks great paired with most layouts. But aside from the aesthetics, this bar also provides an exceptional user experience without needing to look very far to navigate the website.
Large Photo Backgrounds
Photographers or even fans of photography will definitely enjoy this design trend. I have seen countless showcases discussing the ideas of big oversized photography in the background. It’s an excellent way to capture your visitor’s attention and it can look great when done properly.
Minimalist Landing Pages
Anybody who has spent some time researching markets will understand that selling on the Internet is just plain smart. You have access to a large consumer base from anywhere in the world. Additionally you can sell products which are not even physical, such as videos or creative resources.
Creating a landing page online is all about capturing new leads for your product or service. New trends are following the idea of minimalism: keep everything simple and focus on your core product.
Digital QR Codes
The abundance of mobile smartphones has led to a surge of QR Code apps. This stands for Quick Response Code and has developed from the older UPC barcodes. You will find these tagged everywhere from restaurants to event venues and automobile sales lots.
Social Media Badges
Marketing is one of the ultimate determining factors in a website’s success or failure. Social media and viral marketing are exploding in many different websites. Digg used to reign popular in this domain but has since conceded to rivals like Reddit. But these are not the only two popular resources for sharing stories online.
Newer design trends are all about catching and holding one’s attention. I feel that illustrations perform this task brilliantly. The problem is finding a designer who can make such impeccable works of art, or even teaching yourself.
Illustrations can be used in many various ways to bring about different moods in your website. Look around the Internet, and you will find many different website galleries and showcases focusing on digital illustrations. You can see these artistic works eventually blend into its website branding almost perfectly. MailChimp is probably the most definitive example with its trademark chimp mail carrier.
Infinite scroll loading has been around for at least a few years. But this technique hadn’t really hit mainstream until this year and I’m sure it will continue into 2013.
Pinterest has adopted this loading technique for their layout and it works beautifully. You can search anything and the results page will continually load as you scroll down. Pagination is basically a non-issue and doesn’t even work as a detriment into the user experience. Talk about designing for simplicity!
Homepage Feature Tours
Sliding image presentations and demo videos are both very common with new products on the web. Landing pages and startups often try to entice potential users with these informational goodies. And they can often work very well, if you know how to construct something that looks good on a webpage.
Sliding Webpage Panels
Mobile Navigation Toggle
When speaking of responsive design one of the most difficult questions is how to build a solid navigation. You want to give your readers direct access to all your important links, without flooding the page making it unreadable. It is also a good idea to keep your responsive navigation hidden away until it’s needed.
Earlier I mentioned using big oversized photographs in the background of website layouts. This trend can be extended to focus on typography as well: designing your webpage text so it fills the entirety of the browser. Some users may find this annoying. But this is not often the case if the layout is fitted perfectly for super-large text.
Big text with unique font styles can stand out just as much as oversized photography. And I am sure this will see more design critiques moving into the new year.