I have always worked with the understanding that the internet and its technologies have moved at break neck speed and I remember writing an article on this a year or two ago. Revisiting the question and reading back on the article I now know that the technology is aggressive on three fronts, the application, design and influence which is determined by the BIG players such as Microsoft, Google and Twitter.
The developers in Web Design applications have to fit into the box and satisfy the predicted influences of the ‘what’s in’ technology and keep up with the latest web trends.
So what are the trends for 2014 that you should be aware of and more importantly what do you need to do to make sure your house is in order if you want to stay ahead?
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a technology that has come along in leaps and bounds of late. It creates a high standard viewing experience by presenting simplified navigation with auto resizing to any screen such as I-phone, I-pad, Tablet, in fact just about any mobile device or desktop screen. The increase in mobile technology and mobile ‘surfing’ of the internet is rapidly increasing and a web developer must take into account of the mobile audience and to ensure that his latest design includes consideration of the mobile device.
The RWD technology consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and intelligent use of CSS media queries which deliver the web page directly onto your mobile device with perfect layout.
Responsive Web Design is more powerful than resizing a website onto a mobile device screen, the bigger picture is that it is challenging developers to completely re-think differently about design. If your website is not ‘responsive’ then you could be missing out on a huge chunk of your focused audience!
Search has gone Social!
Quite a few times a year Google will announce that it has changed its Algorithms and everyone heads towards their Google Analytics to see if they have been affected in anyway. With the increase of interaction within social media Google has been busy incorporating a social media platform to its search engine results pages (SERPS). Recently Google announced that it was shelving its Google Places and replacing it with Google Plus, which is now known as Google Plus local.
In some ways it appears to be the same engine of Google places however there is a more focus on Social Media. The Google Plus platform encourages visitors to review the websites that participate on Google Plus and within the activity anyone can share the business listings amongst friends in the Google Plus social circles. So for the first time we have two very strong internet functions, SEARCH and SOCIAL sitting on the same platform. Google’s objective is to improve the SERPS to offer more relevant and trusted results for users on a more personal basis than ever before. If you haven’t claimed your Local listing yet – you had better get your skates on because this is going to be the biggest thing from Google that will affect any business whether small or large.
Full Width image backgrounds
Often displayed with text over them, full-width photo backgrounds can give your site a unique look without much work. Visual ‘arty’ people or people from the creative media background sector will really enjoy this trend. For a while now I have seen endless project websites displaying oversized photography in the background. It can be a very effective way to make your audience stand up straight if done properly and I am working on one now for a rehearsal Studio in Liverpool. With a focus on Responsive design, clever CSS and the arrival of the PNG file these visual images are here to stay and will influence change to how a designer would normally fill a screen with content. Minimalism is in!
Gone in a flash!
Social Media is here to stay! and the last few years has seen it grow from strength to strength with no slow down but an explosion of usage from everyone. Facebook has over 1 Billion users globally with Twitter closely on its tail. While sharing buttons at the end of articles is very old news, I see the use of deeper integration with social media networks on websites to explode in 2013/2014. Big Brands have been using Social Media platforms for a long time now and they have invested their research and money wisely – the dividends have paid off well. Now that Google has implemented its Google Plus platform I think we are now ready to see Social Media springboard to even greater heights.
Grid Style Layouts
Grid layouts are a great way of laying out information, they work well for photographers or for anyone trying to showcase photos/graphics. It keeps the attention to the right things and it also makes it a lot easier to make responsive.There are a variety of grid-based structures. A grid can be made of multiple columns and gutters of equal widths. Grids can also be created from columns of varying widths, a technique commonly used when outlining the body of a website that will include sidebars. (Often in this scenario, a separate grid exists within the website body to help create a sense of order.)
When using a vertical column-based grid, the lines are typically invisible and only known to the designer or developer. What these lines do though is create a plane for all the objects – text, images and even ads – so that everything lines up neatly. This will create a distinct organization and overall sense of harmony.