19 Web Design Trends for Now and the Future

It’s a well-known fact that the next hot trend in web development is only a click away. So, what will be the top website design trends for the second half of 2012?

An interesting mixture of pure graphic design and software innovations come together to make the Internet a “kinder, gentler” surfing experience. So, in no particular order, here are the latest advances that have already or will soon hit a website near you.

1. Embellished Hyperlinks

The importance of anchor links within a website cannot be overstated. In the past, links were links. The most artistic of them featured an informational mouse rollover.

Now, the most interesting sites feature strategically designed hyperlinks. This trend is a shift from taking for granted that some website elements were inconsequential to realizing that every move of the mouse must pique the interest of the surfer long enough to stay actively engaged with the site content.

2. Mobile Takes Over

Mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones will continue to enjoy a meteoric rise in sales. Statistics from Statcounter show that mobile surfing in places like India will exceed regular desktop PC browsing by the end of 2012. Because of this, a mobile friendly version of your site is turning into a must.

3. Responsive Cross-Platform Design

With the rise of the smart phone and tablet mobile computing is taking an ever increasing percentage of the computing/technology market.

Websites must be able to instantly adapt and respond to the myriad of operating systems powering this technology. Developing fluid websites that instantly adjust will be a major trend to watch in the coming months.

4. HTML5

This amazing website markup language is becoming more and more accepted as the industry standard. Its ability to provide the web surfer with truly interactive experiences instead of simple graphic designs is the future of web design.

5. Strategic Website Branding

While product branding has been around for decades, it is only recently that this marketing strategy has made its way to the internet.

Website recognition has become serious business and is even seeping into mainstream media. The reasoning behind this trend is the same: If a potential customer is familiar with a brand, or website, then when that consumer needs a product or service carried by that website, the well-known site will be the first visited. This works on the World Wide Web just as it does in the “brick and mortar” world.

6. Go To Lists

Lists of hyperlinks have long occupied many website sidebars. In the past they have been used to help site visitors find static content. Now the ante has been upped and sidebar lists have become crucial site elements that strategically lead visitors to dynamic content, such as special sale items or time-limited site content.

7. Native Plug-In Features

Plug-ins that performs special tasks available through the inventive capabilities of HTML 5 has begun a spectacular rise in popularity during the first half of 2012.

Look at any internet browser’s settings and tools menu to see the software’s new plug-in management hierarchy. Plug-ins are the specialty mini software add-ons that will support the HTML 5’s high level of user interaction.

8. Next Generation Fonts

As mentioned above, website branding is a critical element in building a successful website. The use of fonts has been seriously limited by the programing language used to develop sites.

Now, with special software website download and performance times are no longer hampered. This makes creative use of fonts easy and more importantly perhaps the most important new website design element.

9. Columns

In the past, columns within frames were simply impossible. This meant often wasting space and creating the need for excessive scrolling through a webpage. No more in 2012. Columns may now be easily inserted as a design element that saves scrolling and can be used to direct the viewer’s eyes to key areas of the site.

10. Blogs that Actually Look Good

Blogging has taken the place of the teenager’s diary and the adult’s journal. This is in part due to the plethora of blogging sites that not only provide a space for words, but also provide visually interesting and fun templates for users to customize to reflect their personality and blogging goals. Having a blog is an important part of SEO as it casts a wider net to searchers. The more you write, the more potential to capture people searching in your specific niche.

11. Continued Explosion in Social Networking

While some predicted a decline in the social networking fad, 2012 has shown that while networking sites may come and go, social networking is here to stay and will only continue to grow.

The possibilities of how people can communicate with each other and why they want to link-up with others will continue to expand. Talking about the robbery that took place an hour and a half ago; discussing unique issues faced by owners of German shepherd puppies…there is no end to the communication circles that can and will develop in the near future.

12. The Anywhere Office

While the concept of telecommuting is old news, the jobs that are able to be done without commuting to a brick and mortar site are constantly expanding.

Web business development is at an all-time high and more and more employees are converting corners of their living rooms or a booth at the coffee shop into their business office.

13. Online Magazines

While online formats have been added to magazine subscriptions, more and more magazines are being published solely online. The technology needed to create a professional looking publication is now easy to handle for even the most novice writer. This has opened the door for new writers passionate about a wide variety of topics.

14. Modal Pop-Up Boxes

These handy pop-up boxes usually allow the viewer to input needed information like a user name and password without having to load a completely new page. This allows for a much faster method of getting the consumer to the desired content.

15. Excellent Customer Service

While all the design innovations in the world can bring viewers and keep them there long enough to become a customer, websites must offer customer service that is not available at a “brick and mortar” business if they are to be successful.

Easy communication with real, live human beings who exceed customer expectations is the key to the success of a website; and therefore, website development and design.

16. Better Data Tracking

With free tools such as Google Analytics and Stat-counter, we are seeing more and more people use these tools to collect data points from customers to increase sales and provide a better user experience by analyzing entrance keywords and different entrance funnels.

With Google Analytics recently releasing an Android mobile version for Google Analytics, site owners now have the chance to constantly monitor traffic flow to their website even on the move.

17. More Tested Landing Pages

With SEO and PPC marketing heating up, a lot of companies now use SEO or PPC marketing as part of their online marketing strategy. With PPC, especially with Google, we will start to see a lot cleaner landing pages with clearer call to actions to help advertisers keep a good quality score in their campaigns.

Google Analytics makes it much easier now with its’ ‘experiments’ section to easily A/B split test different landing pages for PPC campaigns. Because of this, I believe more and more people will start testing different landing pages, which will result in a much better user experience for those looking for a new product or service offer.

18. Faster Loading Sties

With hosting services becoming cheaper, there is a lot more opportunity in terms of cheaper virtual private servers or dedicated servers. While shared hosting was a boom before, webmasters are now realizing that it doesn’t actually cost too much more to have a slice of a dedicated server in the form of a VPS.

With that change, site performance and speed should increase. Mix this in with cheaper content delivery networks, the array of different caching plugins available (free and paid), websites will definitely be trending more towards quicker loading times no matter where the person browsing may be.

19. SEO Optimized websites

Many website owners are now investing in SEO. This means that on-site factors such as title tags, having compelling copy in descriptions and possibly targeting a range of keywords is becoming more important. Having a CMS where someone can make changes easily as well as improving the site to increase visibility is something to be thought about from the outset of the site development.

In Summary

Why are these emerging website design trends important? They all focus upon maintaining the web surfer’s interest in order to prolong the visit to the website.

It is clear as we move towards 2013, that web development is as much about design and function as it is about content. While content makes the sale, it is design and function that keeps the consumer there long enough to find and appreciate the content.

What other trends do you see for the future of web design?

Author bio: Edwin is an avid marketer and writer currently working at 9th sphere – An award winning company specializing in online marketing and web design in Toronto. Edwin has a passion for great design and helping businesses succeed.

Featured image on home page is provided courtesy of tacker.

Filed in: Blogging, Design, Internet Marketing
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