We're not even a month into the new year, but already there is speculation as to what web design will bring. Identifying on-going experimentation may lead us to new and exciting design approaches.
So what new trends will 2009 most likely bring?
Rich User Interfaces
As websites become more user friendly and accessible, user interfaces have evolved resulting in rich and responsive interfaces that have tremendous similarities with classic desktop applications. With AJAX and Flash becoming more widely used, dynamic interactions are not just reserved for professionals.
In addition, sites are becoming more in-tuned with user behaviors, tailoring functionality to confirm and provide immediate feedback on the user’s interaction with the system.
Typography & Font Replacement
2009 is to typography as Helvetica was to 2007. A typographic revolution continues to unfold within web design. No longer limited to default fonts, websites are going big. Often going beyond 36 pixels, typefaces are being designed to shout marketing messages while their details, like leading and line height, convey beautiful elements of design.
Indeed, Smashing Magazine notes "designers are trying to blend beautiful typography and arresting visual design to improve the appearance of websites and improve the user experience."
Slideshows & Media Blocks
Carousels, lightboxes and other photo elements allow users to quickly peruse through photos, stories and more without vertical scrolling or unnecessary mouse movements. Not only does this save users time, it engages them with a site's content quite seamlessly.
In addition, more sites are capitalizing on greater bandwidth by presenting content in a more attractive and dynamic way, like media blocks which can display videos and screencasts.
The result allows content to be quickly and effectively communicated with users, while making it easier for user to consume information.
The way people read a web page is studied in an effort to best utilize the layout so that nothing is lost and usability is gained. Our own Gerry McGovern found that "people don't really scan an entire webpage. Rather, they break the page up into various sections or blocks and then scan within these areas."
A multi-column design can be helpful to visitors because they have a better overview of the available navigation options and can more quickly find the information they are looking for.
In an effort to keep visitors on a website as long as possible and to make it as easy as possible to find content, websites are experimenting with different layouts.
Smashing Magazine has identified dynamic tabs as "one of the most popular trends in interactive design." Having a tabbed area allows content to be changed dynamically. While the content of all the tabs is loaded when the page is loaded, only one part of the content is displayed at a time making it seem customized for each user.
While these are only a smattering of what you may see more of in the next year, other ideas abound. Successful websites combine the effortlessness of a content management system, the usefulness of a rich interface and the beauty of typography and visual design.