The "Web Design" category of general interest covers a fair share of the world. Informative articles on everything from UX to client management, to conversion psychology, and even A/B testing can be found with a simple search for "web design." In the first half of 2014 at least, we've seen a lot of the same tags popping up.
Responsive is a buzzword bandied about like no other. Everyone is obsessed with making their sites appear perfectly across a variety of viewports. At the same time, various scroll site iterations have seen a big uptrend in popularity, and don’t get me started on the proclivity of "Flat."
The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s a lively field. There’s a ton of discussion, but some topics see more light than others. Even so, it can be easy to miss some of the wittier back-and-forth banter if you aren’t constantly plugged into the best resources for topical web design headlines. Never fear and no worries, let this article be your guide to the hottest topics in web design so far in 2014.
This first one is so basic, that's why it's strange to take this long to reach to the centre stage. Typography is often criminally overlooked in terms of featured position within various web designs. The font face used within your designs determines readability, legibility, and from there: the relevance of content as a whole. You can convey mood, emotion, credibility, and creativity with the way your text appears. It’s therefore, pretty damn important to make sure your text conveys the correct message.
Here are just a few of the articles authored in 2014 that highlight typography:
2. Minimalism/Flat Design
The flat/minimalist revolution continues dominant presence in the minds of designers everywhere and little wonder it ties into two of three popular topics under discussion.
The flat design emphasizes typography and plays well with RWD. It’s the centrepiece in the holy trinity of 2014 web design topics. Giving the clean, white-space-filled veneer with which to showcase only the most important elements of a web page. Flat and minimalist elements far and away comprise the most requested, discussed, and imitated designs in the world today.
Skeuomorphism has taken a back seat for the foreseeable future, in favour of immaterial and more imaginative artistic sensibilities. Curves, shadows, and realism are no longer as sexy as 2-dimensional lines and shapes. To get an idea of the continually unfolding impact of flat, check out these articles:
If you haven't heard anything about how important RWD is this year, you weren't giving much attention. Ensuring perfect legibility, and attractive rendering regardless of screen size has been one of the biggest talking points of 2014. With typographic elements (like ems rather than pixels) being used to create responsive sites at ever more frequent intervals, the degree to which web content can be displayed without sacrificing much in the way of aesthetics is likewise rapidly increasing.
It’s even becoming en vogue to make images, animations, and other on-screen effects responsive in their own right. The major benefit of designing responsively is that you don’t have to create multiple versions of a website, not to spend extra marketing dollars convincing your audience to download a native app.
All that said, there’s still plenty of trouble accompanying RWD. Just because it’s right now, does not mean it’s easy to do. Although, since it’s so highly requested at the moment, many designers might not sing that tune if their clients ask for it to be included in their next project. Still, 2014 is the first year in which mobile browsing surpassed that of the desktop. That means RWD isn’t likely to disappear from common vernacular anytime soon. For a better understanding of RWD’s implications and origins, take a look at any of the following:
4. Browser compatibility
The right behind responsiveness is browser compatibility. These topics are so closely related, they’re often spoken to the same breath. Probably because part of being responsive, is making sure your designs display across not only devices but also across different technologies, which of course includes different browsers.
Everyone is concerned about being able to have their designs appear for the most ancient of browsers because many older users never update their browsers. Luckily, the number of IE7 users is dwindling to nothing, and some of the newer IE browsers are bordering on decent.
Even so, it won’t do to ignore the outliers, so testing your website's browser compatibility is still a hot topic in the world of web design.
5. Parallax Scrolling
Ah Parallax scrolling, my old friend. This topic has seen plenty of mileage this year. This interesting design technique and prevalent web trend saw a massive resurgence in 2011 and has since enjoyed regular rotation in many authoritative web design circles. Even three years later it’s still a hot topic of discussion.
Much of this discussion revolves around what it adds to a website, whether or not it’s a superfluous addition or an interesting and engaging animated effect that adds depth and intrigue to your website. I fall into the latter camp because I’m easily distracted by anything even slightly out of the ordinary. And quite frankly, I’m just a big fan of pretty things.
Parallax scrolling is undoubtedly a visually attractive element on any web page, but like most guilty pleasures it must be enjoyed in moderation. The differing speeds of on-page elements in the foreground and background combine to give the impression of movement, but too much movement makes for an uncomfortably bumpy ride. See what the authorities on the subject have to say:
6. Infinite Scrolling