Web Design Trends in 2011

If there is one word that sums up web design in 2011, it’s flexibility. Browsing the web is not only about sitting at a desktop computer with a 17-inch screen anymore. People are visiting their favorite websites from smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and other web-enabled devices. Modern web designers have to anticipate these and any other devices when they create web designs. 2011 design is clean, sleek and thoroughly modern, with little touches that bring a little organic life and movement to even the simplest designs.

Although beauty and quality design are important for any web design, in 2011 it’s all about functionality. 2011 web browsers want sites that are easy to navigate and reflect real-world experiences. They want to connect to their favorite sites through social networking tools and real human interaction. Your web design can impress other designers, but if it doesn’t captivate and connect with the audience, it is not an effective design. Clever designs integrated with harmonious color schemes, intuitive layouts, and accessibility and functionality create web designs that will work well in 2011.

1. Simplicity. If your message is good, you don’t need competing bells and whistles to try to shout it to your audience. But simple doesn’t have to mean boring: a simple color scheme can mean shades of one color or two contrasting colors, not just html-style black on white. Working within one color family is much more pleasing to the eye than incorporating a rainbow of different colors into your design.

2.  Web designers are finally moving over to CSS3 and HTML5 en masse. Flash has been the dominant program in web design for several years, but new technologies like the iPad demand more sophisticated tools, and HTML5 is here to help. If you aren’t already familiar with these new tools, getting to know them can help you stay on the cutting edge.

3. Being mobile ready doesn’t mean just creating a streamlined version of your site that smartphone-using browsers can access easily on the go. For brand continuity, it’s important that your style and look from your original site be represented on your mobile site as well. New technologies allow you to design your entire site to be compatible with the user’s viewing device, and you can include an option to hop over to the original mobile-optimized site from the mobile-specific one if desired. Keep in mind smartphones are set to outsell personal computers this year. If you’re not designing for smartphones, you’re not designing for real-world users.

4.Touch screens, accelerometers and other tactile integrations mean that technology has begun to correspond to physical reality more than ever. That means users expect to approach your site in a more tangible way pointing and dragging, turning the screen to rotate a picture, and so on. Maximize this potential by designing your site to be touchscreen-friendly and totally intuitive.

5. With the success of magazine-friendly e-book readers like the Nook, the magazine style digital layout is seeing a surge in popularity. That means your site is laid out horizontally, with users flipping or sliding from page to page, as if they were reading a magazine. This creates an integrated, professional experience, and is great for showcasing gorgeous photos without too much distracting explanatory text. For example, if you were showing a slideshow of engagement rings, a magazine layout would allow the user a good view of each diamond, with more information on each ring available simply by clicking.

6. 3D movies are blowing up the box office, and 3D TV’s are even on the horizon, so it makes sense that the 3D effect has traveled into web design as well. Depth perception creates dimension, giving the sense that some parts of your design jump out of the screen, while others recede into the distance. This can highlight the important parts of your site, while making sure more boring details are present but don’t detract from the exciting elements of the design.

7. We all know the power of a single, perfect photo. Harness that memorable impact by using a large-scale photo backdrop—a single photo that serves as the backdrop to your entire site. Make sure it is content-appropriate and the right kind of photo to represent your brand, as it is sure to have a lasting impact on the user. Integrate text over the photo by using transparency and a coordinating color scheme.

8. At this point, most of the good domain names are taken. Instead of coming up with a ridiculous and non-memorable .com address, utilize one of the biggest web design trends of 2011 and opt for a creative domain like .me or .us. That will open up your possibilities and allow for a more straightforward web address as long as you act fast.

9. One of the hottest trends in web and advertising design in 2011 is the QR, or Quick Response, code. A square background with a unique pattern, a QR code allows a user to snap a photo of an ad they see on a bus stop or in a magazine, which directs their phone’s browser to your site. Using a QR code helps today’s connected customers remain in contact with your site no matter where they are.

10. Many sites include a blog-like section, with updated posts in a reverse-chronological format. In 2011, web designers are taking this one step further, with art-directed blogging blog posts that go beyond the usual text-and-photo layout with creative typography, layouts, graphics, pull quotes, and photo captions. These blog posts resemble magazine articles, and show the influence that old-fashioned print design standards are having on the web.