2009 Web Design Trends
It’s perfectly reasonable to talk predictions for the year ahead up to and including 31 January! The best article I’ve read on web design trends for this year comes from the ever smashing Smashing Magazine. I’ve picked the bits I see as most relevant to our market out of here, and have added to it following discussions with some of the key designers on the Brightspark panel. This list is not exhaustive, I’m looking mainly at the design trends that appeal to me for this year:
- Clean corporate
- Vintage, and
- Hand drawn (although it’ll be gone by year end)
Everyone’s in agreement that the Web 2.0 design hysteria will finally leave us this year, and I agree with Heidi Jermyn who believes that
the elements that constitute that style will remain. This is because they are tied in to the ideals of accessibility, usability and web standards – and they work!
Clean corporate is so broad and clearly defined that we’ve focused on the particular design features that will constitute the main elements of the ‘clean corporate look’ for 2009.
- Letterpress – has rarely been used to date, but is emerging across a number of different site types and for different content types. It refers to the printing of text onto a ‘raised’ surface.
- PNG Transparency – closely tied to the magazine style, this is where semi transparent images are superimposed onto backgrounds. Good method of making design stand out, but not recommended for all Irish businesses as it’s not IE6 compatible and until IE6 is dead and gone, you can’t be sure that your beautiful design will be viewed as it should. For example, most of Government departments are still using IE6. So check your stats first before going down the transparent png route. Why alienate part of your audience unnecessarily?
- Large typography – we’re seeing font sizes upwards of 36 pixels, and in many cases quite expensive typefaces. Typography is set to be the number 1 design element this year and rightly so, as large interesting fonts make for beautiful designs and clear messages. Ray Doyle of Intrigue says:
- Font replacement – with more of an emphasis on typography, some designers will choose to move away from the classics of Helvetica, Arial, Georgia and Verdana. Font replacement with SIFR can add great beauty, but in our experience SIFR can cause a nightmare during browser testing. We used it here in 2007 and for sites that still have high numbers of IE6 users, I’m not recommending its use again!
- Light boxes – the second generation of pop-up box, widely used and always triggered by a user action (eg. signing up). They always appear on top of the main content and usually appear semi transparent. Example.
- Video content – while strictly content, video blocks are also a design element used to convey lots of info within a relatively small space. Video content should be short and should always carry a different message to the text. Social entrepreneurs use it here.
- Carousels – image slideshows in which the content rotates vertically or horizontally (hence the name “carousel”). To rotate the navigation, users need to click on one of two toggle elements (usually a left/right or up/down arrow). Depending on the toggle element selected, the content is rotated in the desired direction. Definitely recommended for you if you’ve an abundance of striking imagery and video at your disposal, or if your story is really well told visually. Like we did here.
- Introduction blocks – the upper-left area of a website is the most important block on the page, because it grabs the most attention from visitors. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to place the most important message of the website right there and thus make sure that readers get the message as quickly as possible. We’ve been doing this forever, it’s best practice to state who/what/where/when/why in the top of your home page. See Internet Marketing Ireland specialists!
This will be a year for BOLD and energetic! Typography such as “DF Strand” by Rian Highes, “Geometric Soul” by Jason Walcott and “P22 Bifur A” by Richard Kegler. A geometric moderne with decorative variants, part Art Deco glamour, part Modernist architectural lettering and part latest fashion revival. Pop and glam with a heavy punch.
Examples of Clean Corporate Style
Vintage, old school patterns are timeless and look set to be very popular in this coming. In the bright shiny new medium of web, they haven’t been used much to date, but now we’re seeing them used on corporate sites, online shops, and blogs.
Successful vintage design features images and fonts that were popular in the time period they are meant to represent. Vintage recalls the time period between the 1950s and 1980s. Vintage can often be combined with the hand drawn style (see below).
Ray’s looking at:
A geometric moderne with decorative variants, part Deco glamour, part Modernist architectural lettering and part latest fashion revival. Pop and glam with a heavy punch.
Examples of Vintage Style Designs
Please note that the examples above of vintage are a little busy in my opinion and feature too much yellowing/brown colours. But I’ve included them for their images and motifs and for indicative purposes only. If you know any good examples of non yellowing looking ones, please let me know.
Hand Drawn Style
This is one I associate with Heidi, she was experimenting with this as far back as 2006. Matt’s Endless Bender is one she did at the end of last year. Hand drawn (or scrapbook) style features hand drawn elements, torn edges and the odd coffee stain and are usually highly personalised and a little whimsical. Not really suited to corporates, this style will be very popular for anyone marketing to the youth market, as well as personal blogs. They will die off later this year as they will come to be seen as ‘very 2008’.