Web Design in 2010-2011 – Analysis

As we’re coming to the middle of this year, everyone is trying to analyze the recent trends in web designing and web development. However, in this article, we’ll see what web designers and developers are trying to utilize with the new features to create impressive designs. We will also try to look into the factors that are driving this change.

1. The days of static design visuals are dead
With the online technology that is available today, web designers are coding websites more creatively than using simple images and html/css. Clients have come to expect a higher level of functionality and interactivity as they visit more and more websites that utilize things like Ajax, and JavaScript. Whilst CSS3/HTML5 has started to step on the toes of JavaScript, JavaScript itself has started to inch into the territory of Flash. JavaScript has just finished a major revision of its specifications for the language. Once browser companies adopt these standards, web developers will be provided with more tools to improve their capabilities in creating web applications.

2. Grid-based designs, Mobile Designs, Retro Designs are gaining popularity as well.
But Grid based is used mostly in portfolios, product pages and big blogs; they almost never appear on corporate websites or in online shops. With the huge amount of data present, classifying information based on context rather than content will be paramount for companies which handle large amount of data (financial, social, etc).

3. Print Design influence
Traditional techniques from print design are increasingly being applied to the Web, be they layout techniques or rich versatile typography. Web Designers are taking layout and design inspiration from print. This includes lots of whitespace, large type,use of a grid and clear hierarchy of elements. The layouts of these websites often resemble those of print magazines or posters, with striking headlines, multi-column text, highlighted quotations, indented text, supporting imagery, side notes and footnotes.

4. Faster and better Web browsers
Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera has offered more choices to web users. But, well, it is part of a web designer’s job to make sure that texts are easy and nice to read on all major browsers and platforms. With browser wars is in full force, Techniques for progressive enhancement are more commonplace than before, giving users of modern web browsers a better web experience than those who will not or cannot use them. This has surely drive competition in web designing.

5. Growth of community-oriented Platforms
In many ways, the growth of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has led the web to be much more community-oriented. Along with these changes will come increased focus in getting information in real-time. Twitter is one of the examples that give immediate and breaking information on the sites. With more and more growth of such social media platforms and more people participating in the creation of information on the web, the way in which we obtain information has shift from being from a singular source, into a more community-created source.

6. Interactive Designs
Web designers of Web applications are paying significantly more attention to the way in which functionality is presented and are trying to improve the user experience with more interactive and responsive solutions. There’s a lot more emphasis now on site usability and creating sites that are minimalist in design and easy to navigate (perfect use of CSS and a grid based layout). Horizontal scroll bars have been out there for a decade, but today it feels that they are gaining a new context. The move to horizontal scroll bars is probably an attempt among some designers to provide a more distinct user experience. One way to make websites more responsive is through “keypress navigation,” which hasn’t been widely adopted so far. But lately we’ve observed more designs implementing this effectively. Web designers of Web applications are paying significantly more attention to the way in which functionality is presented and are trying to improve the user experience with more interactive and responsive solutions.

7. Slab Typefaces
These are relatively new as in the past logos and headers were smaller and more understated by web designers. However, combined with the trend toward larger headers, slab typefaces demand the reader to take notice.

8. Rich and strong Typography
It has played a major role in Web design for years now. Bold, strong, heavy headlines can effectively convey the purpose of an e-commerce website or portfolio, while subtler headings help structure content and improve legibility. Obviously, the big change we’re seeing today is richer, more versatile typography. Oversized logos on an equally oversized header and Footer. We’ve further noticed that Web designers are extending their font stacks, adding increasingly more fall-back fonts in case a specified font is not available.

9. Recent trends
like embossing, PNG transparency, rich user Interfaces, Font replacement, Huge Images, Modal boxes(A modal box is like the pop-up’s more sophisticated They serve as a user-friendly alternative to classic JavaScript windows), Media blocks, The magazine look, Carousels (slideshow navigations, in which the content rotates vertically or horizontally), Introduction blocks(place the most important message of the website right there and thus make sure that readers get the message as quickly as possible.) will continue to grow in this year.

10. More Personalization
As web designers look for more ways of attracting users and prospects to their websites and generating business online, personalization is emerging as an important component of managing the web experience for site visitors – and delivering business value. Be simple, invisible complexity, big and bold, art and creativity, bigger picture. Web Typography is going to reach some new heights in 2010-2011. JQuery, Mootools as well as CSS3 are evolving and reaching new levels of quality and ‘interactivity’. Everything seems to be moving forward to larger elements which focus the attention.

If you haven’t checked out CSS3 and HTML5 websites yet ( like http://www.12thi.com ), you should really look into it because they will change the way you design and code. You can take advantage of the new features to create cleaner and more efficient layout.

It is possible that we have missed some other great trends and factors. Why don’t you contribute some interesting information here? Please don’t hesitate to share it with us in comments.

Choosing a Web Designer

Many small business owners struggle with deciding on how to make the right choice for designing their website. They search the web for help with their website and find that the choice is harder than they thought. Currently there are (literally) millions of websites who claim to be professional web designers. However, one must be careful in choosing the right person or people in which to trust their company image. In this article, I will attempt to categorize web designers into manageable groups, and teach the reader the difference between the types.

Web designers fall into four general categories: freelance amateur, freelance professional, Web Design Company, Web Development Firm.

Freelance Amateur

The majority of web designers you will come across, especially searching the Internet, are freelancers. That is, individuals who do web design but are not employed by a web design company. Some are self-employed professionals but most of these freelancers are amateur-hobbyist types. They find a copy of FrontPage™ came with their MS Office™ Suite. They discovered how fun it could be to make web pages so they started telling their friends that they could “design” web pages.

The “pros” of using an amateur is that they are very cheap. The “cons” are too numerous to mention, but I’ll point out a few. They have no training; they have little knowledge of what makes a good website work; they do not understand HTML code or CSS but only FrontPage point and click; they do not understand general design and layout concepts and they have little real experience. The biggest reason they should be avoided for the serious businessperson, is that their work looks amateurish, which makes your company look amateurish. Who wants that?

Freelance Professional

A professional is often defined by simply being paid. People think that if you are paid for something, then you are professional. Maybe that’s true in the Olympics, but for the business services world, you are not a professional until you are established and respected as one by your clients and peers. Freelancer professional web designers are a giant leap from the amateur in that they have established a portfolio of respectable work. They have some sort of qualified training and experience and they have credentials that can be verified by contacting references. They have a good reputation with their clients and other professionals. In general, a good freelance professional web designer can be good person to have doing your site. But they are hard to distinguish from the amateur when you are just searching the web.

The upside is, if you find a good one they are significantly cheaper than a web design company. But that is usually the only upside. If the budget limits you, then a freelancer will do for a small project. But anything seriously important should be left to a professional company.

Some downsides to using a freelance pro are that they are usually part-time, meaning they are limited in how much time they can devote to your project. They are also limited in what they can do for you. Most freelancers are specialists in one area and generalists in everything else. Some have no skills in anything except their one specialty and often you will have to find others to fill roles. In addition, freelancers are not always cheap although many of them are aspiring to create their own company; some are highly sought after and charge $100 per hour or more for their work. My advice here is, if you have that much to spend, go with a company that has a team of professionals to get the job done in a timelier manner.

Web Design Company

This is the next step beyond a freelance professional. The web design company offers the “whole show”. They provide real project management and have pulled together a team of web experts to get a wider range of jobs done. A company can provide a much higher level of expertise in web design, programming, content development and more.

Such a company is usually very small, yet large enough to handle larger scale projects. Compared to the most highly qualified freelancer, a company has a diversity of talent and collaboration working for them. The end-result is usually a much higher quality product.

The only real drawbacks are on the one hand, the web design company is more expensive than a freelancer because there are many more people on the job. However, you get what you pay for rings true. On the other hand, for very large projects or long term development, web design companies may be too small and usually do not have the human recourses to accommodate that $500,000 contract. In the end, for serious business people looking for quality and professionalism and who can’t afford the big firm, this is the way to go.

Web Development Firm

As the title implies, a web development firm is like any traditional company. They have a staff of office workers, they have owners and officers, and they have a team of talented professionals who are paid a good salary for their work. They often have a sales force that do inside and outside sales. The quality of their work goes without saying, as you could not be so well-established by doing shoddy work. These firms offer teams of very talented professionals who work on your project and get the job done in a timely and extremely efficient manner. Additionally, they usually cover all aspects of website development including marketing and advertising. They may have teams of specialists that they can deploy to your location and work in-house under a temporary contract. The possibilities are endless.

If price is not an issue and the highest quality work is necessary, then this is who you want to do the job. For smaller budget businesses, a quote from an established web development firm might knock you off your chair, but know that companies who have project requirements that reach hundreds of thousands of dollars know the score. Thus, the only real drawback for a web development firm is that they are usually very expensive. Then again, cost is relative and bigger companies like to work with bigger companies.

In summary, the choice is yours. I would recommend for the serious businessperson, that you budget a decent amount of dollars to properly design and execute a professional website. I would avoid the amateur and outsource to an individual or company with good experience and reasonable rates to create my web presence. If money were no object, then I would only deal with established firms and pay the big bucks to get the job done right and done well.

Web Design and Development Information

Web design usually involves many varied disciplines and skills in the maintenance and production of websites. The different parts that encompasses web designing include interface design, graphic design, authoring which includes proprietary software and standardized code, search engine optimization and user experience design. Although some designers may specialize in all the aspects of web design, most designers usually work in groups each individual tackling a different aspect of the process.

The term web design is mostly used to refer to the design process involving the front-end design of a site that includes writing mark up too. In the wider scope of website development, Web design is partially complex more than web engineering. This is because web designers are expected to have the technical Know-How in usability and to be at par with the current website accessibility guidelines if their work involves creating mark up too.

HTML and CSS in Web design

HyperText Markup Language commonly known as HTML, plays a big role in web design since it gives the content in the website, it’s meaning and structure by defining what the content is, for instance, paragraphs, images, headings and so on. Cascading Style Sheets or what is commonly referred to as CSS, is a display language used to enhance the appearance of the content in the site for example use of colors and fonts.

Both the languages CSS and HTML are used independently of each other and that should be maintained when dealing with web design. For instance in all your web related activities such as “Web Design and development, appearance, website, homepage, HTML” HTML should not be written in a CSS document vice versa. The general rule is that HTML should always be representing content while CSS should always represent how that content appears. For those who are the beginners of HTML, in some cases you might encounter strange and often-new terms but with time you are likely to become more conversant with all of them. However, the commonly used terms in HTML you should begin with include attributes, tags and elements.

New standards in HTML and CSS

To enhance “Web Design and development, appearance, website, homepage, HTML” the W3C recently released new standards of CSS the CSS3 and HTML the HTML5. Additionally the W3C released new JavaScript API’s. Although they are all new but they are all individual standards. While the new term HTML 5 solely refers to the latest version of the HTML and a number of the JavaScript API’s it is common to hear most people use it to refer to the whole lot of the new standard both the CSS3,the HTML 5 and JavaScript.

Technologies and Tools used in web design

Depending on the step of the production process, web designers use a wide range of varied tools in their work. Though the principles behind them remain the same, the tools and technologies are updated with time by the current software and standards. To create design prototypes or and images that are formatted on the web, web designers use raster and vector graphics. The main technology used in creating websites is the standardized mark up, which can be generated or handcooked using the WYSIWYG editing software. Furthermore, there is proprietary software that uses plug-ins to bypass the user’s browser versions. They are mostly WYSIWYG but with the choice of using the scripting language of the software. Search engine optimization strategies may also be applied to check the ranking at the search engine and suggest ways of improving it. Other tools used are the mark up validators and other tools used for testing accessibility and usability. This is to make sure that the website meets the website accessibity guideline.

Homepage design

Most Usability professionals and experts such as Kyle Soucy and Jakob Nielsen have on a number of times insisted on homepage design for any website success since the homepage is the most essential part of a website. However, in the early 2000’s it was discovered that a surging number of web traffic was inconsiderate to the homepage and was directly going to the contents of the pages via e-newsletters, RSS feeds and search engines.

Due to this, it is evident that homepages play a lesser important role in the success of any website. In the years 2012 and 2013 rotating banners and sliders, also known as carousels became a very popular component of web design on homepages. The carousels are used to display recent content in a specific space. However, while undertaking “Web Design and development, appearance, website, homepage, HTML” it should be noted that carousels often damage site’s usability and search engine optimization.

Web development

The term web development is used to refer to the work involved in coming up with a website for the World Wide Web. Development usually ranges from coming with simple single page sites using plain text to the complex web applications, social network services and electronic businesses. Tasks in web development include web design, client liaison and e-commerce development.

Web site appearance

The feel and look of your site is more essential than just displaying the information you want, but doing it in a way that it appeals and creates attention from your target audience information. Multiple factors should be taken into account when scaling out the appearance of your website. One of the major considerations is your intended audience. Look at their nationality, gender, age bracket, animations, colors, animations and graphics.

In summary, the idea here is to assist you develop a site that appeals and gets attention from the largest possible audience in all your work including web design and development.

Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer for Your Business Web Site

How to Choose a Web Design Firm

Simple. You do your homework on them. Then, you start asking questions and taking notes. There are plenty of web designers available. You want to go with the best because, in fact, your web designer is in essence your partner. You want to choose a designer that takes YOUR business seriously.

What questions do you ask?

There are several important questions to ask when choosing a web designer for your business web site.

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design firm for your business web site is a very important decision. And if your company is like most small businesses, you probably do not have web design experience. Building your web site will take time and work. And working with a web designer is no easy task. So choose the right web design company from the start and avoid do-over’s, which can be costly and time consuming.

1. What kind of web experience do you have?

For starters, find out what kind of design experience your potential design firm has. Do they have experience with content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal, do they have experience working with “raw” HTML? Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience with ecommerce hosting?

2. Do you have a portfolio that I can review?

An experienced web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you?

3. Do you have any references?

In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn’t they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

4. What are your prices?

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front.

Ask them a bit about how they manage payments. If they respond in a very business-like and professional manner, this is a good sign. If they throw out answers like – “Don’t worry, we’ll manage” or “Whatever you are comfortable with”, don’t be fooled. This is trouble waiting to happen. Get the price in writing before you begin the project.

5. Do you have experience with search engine optimization?

Most small business owners do not have it in their budget to hire a separate marketing firm to work on search engine optimization (SEO), so it imperative that your web designer have experience in SEO. A good designer will know that design and SEO go hand-in-hand. Designing a web site for search engines with “clean” code that utilizes cascading style sheets is essential to getting your content indexed in the leading search engines, such as Google and Bing.

6. Do you have experience with social media marketing?

Many marketing firms do know the first thing about social media marketing. These firms are stuck in the past and are not as effective as they pretend to be. Be sure that you work with a designer that knows how to setup a Facebook fan page for your business and design a customized Twitter profile. This is important because you will want your social media properties to mesh with the design of your web site. The web site and social media pages should complement one-another.

7. What is your process for designing or building a web site?

Make sure you ask your potential web design company about the process that they use? Do they design a web site or do they build a web site? An experienced Internet professional should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don’t, they’re probably not as experienced as they claim to be. Building a web site is a highly technical process, while designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. At the same time, many firms design web sites, yet out-source the creative portion of the project. Find out from the beginning what the process if for the firm that you are considering.

8. How long will it take?

Perfectionism can be a huge stumbling block in the fast paced world of the Internet. Some designers are unable to compromise between quality and time to market needs. Test: See how long it takes until you receive a proposal.

9. What type of support is offered after web site launch?

If your design firm does not offer web site maintenance, you might want to continue looking. Most reputable design firms will offer “post-launch” maintenance for companies that do not have an in-house webmaster.

10. Which web hosting providers do you work with?

If your design firm does not know the first-names of the contact at their favorite web design firm, then this should raise a red flag. Most reputable web designers know not to choose a web host simply because they are the most popular or because they offer the cheapest web hosting. A reputable web design firm should know who to call and how to get results! Does your web designer work with a green hosting company? Environmentally-friendly web hosting is becoming more and more popular for business web sites looking to implement an eco-policy.

Getting a little recognition on the W3 is hard, even in a niche market (especially in a niche market). You have less than 10 seconds to convince a site visitor to stick around long enough to learn about the quality of your services, your products or your message. Web surfers are jagged out on information overload. If they don’t see what they want to see on your home page or a landing page, they bounce. So, making a statement about your corporate culture and your business’ core values has to happen in the blink of an eye. Visitors will never even see the “About Us” page if you don’t create a good impression – in 10 seconds. So, go green! An emblem or banner proclaiming that you employ green hosting makes an immediate statement about your on-line business. It says you care about the environment.

Do your homework when choosing a web design firm.

Good designers are creative people that need to think out of the box. Finding a good web designer is getting harder and harder. The good designers are being snatched by agencies and large projects. They are overloaded with work and often, you won’t know about them because they don’t have time (or need) to market themselves. Doing your homework and asking the right questions is important to decide if they are right for the job.