Our Favorite Web Design Trends of 2011

Last year was yet another huge one on the Web as things continued to move forward at a breakneck pace. The explosive growth of traffic from mobile devices influenced everything and meant huge advances in both technology and new ideas. Here are some of our favorite trends of 2011:

Responsive Design Goes Big Time

boston-globe-responsiveboston-globe-responsiveA responsive website uses fluid layouts, flexible images, and media queries to deliver an experience adapted for whatever width browser or device is being used. With the increasing number of mobile and desktop resolutions that must be accounted for, true responsive design solutions use CSS and media queries to flex to handle any width and adjusted layouts for popular breakpoints.

Coined by Ethan Marcotte back in 2010, responsive web design went all the way from unproven concept to misused buzzword in 2011. When the responsively redesigned BostonGlobe.com launched in September it signified loud and clear that responsive design wasn’t just for designer portfolio sites anymore. Responsive concepts can and should be considered for any new site developed in 2012.

Learn more: Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It, Responsive Web Design: The Book

@font-face Brings Beautiful Type to the Web

typekittypekitWeb typography has been something designers have been forced to struggle with from the earliest days of the Web. As a developer, reminding the design team that they need to choose a web safe font and their options are still just “Arial or Verdana” always results in dropped heads. No more. The ability to embed nearly any font you want using @font-face puts all the power and creativity back into the designer’s hands. Add to it CSS3 properties such as text-shadow and tools such as Lettering.js and FitText, and suddenly the Web is a more beautiful place.

A technology that was around long before 2011, embedding web fonts using @font-face exploded last year and saw some major advances as more type foundries licensed their fonts for web embedding. With more quality fonts available (and many available for free), most projects that MarketNet works on now end up including embedded fonts for headings or navigation elements.

Also in 2011, Typekit, an innovator and leader in hosted web fonts, was acquired by Adobe. The acquisition signifies broad support for @font-face and should mean the inclusion of Typekit capabilities in future releases of Adobe’s Creative Suite tools.

Learn more: Modern Techniques for Web Typography, The Essential Guide to @font-face, @font-face face off

Constant (and Automatic) Browser Updates

firefox-updatefirefox-updateInternet Explorer 6 was released over 10 years ago and it’s lack of capabilities and bugs could still end up restricting a web project in 2011. Crazy, right? Fortunately a similar issue shouldn’t be able to occur again. Web browsers are finally updating as quickly as web technology and ideas are, and more importantly they’re doing it automatically without needing users to be savvy enough to know that they need to update their computers.

Google Chrome has been pushing out autoupdates for a while now (and still does it the best), but in 2011 the teams behind both Firefox and Internet Explorer announced they would be doing the same. Now on an aggressive six-week release cycle, Firefox went from version 4.0 to version 9.01 between April and the end of the year. In December, joyous noises were heard from developers across the globe as Microsoft joined the party with the news that Internet Explorer all the way back to Windows XP would now autoupgrade to the latest available version.

Learn more: Mozilla’s Right: Bring on the Browser Updates, IE to Start Automatic Upgrades across Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7

What Will Be the Trends of 2012?

What new tech will be out in 2012? Will Google TV or the rumored new Apple TV set make an impact? How will Android Ice Cream Sandwich influence mobile design? Mobile will continue to grow and will influence many companies to target mobile first when launching new projects.

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

It’s a new year and that means it’s time to reflect on 2011 and set resolutions for 2012.

Here at MarketNet, the resolutions we’re focused on for the new year are 1280×800, 1366×768, 1280×1024, 480×320, 320×480, and good old 1024×768. Oh and also 1440×900, 1920×1080, 1680×1050, 800×600, 2560×1440, and 480×360. And 320×240. Those are just some of the hundreds of different screen resolutions of visitors to this blog. In the top 10 alone the widths range from 320 to 2,560 pixels.

Still think your 995 pixel wide site is the best experience for every visitor? How well does your primary messaging come across when viewed zoomed all the way out on a mobile phone? And what kind of new experiences could you be delivering to people taking advantage of a beautiful 27″ high-res monitor?

Continue reading → 2012 New Year’s Resolutions

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Content Choreography – Content Strategy in a Responsive World

Trent Walton has written (and designed) a great (and beautiful) article on dealing with content in responsive web designs that adapt to the width of visitors’ browsers. Content Choreography is a good discussion of content organization, changing designs too much between various widths, and the workflow needed when creating responsive web sites. Definitely a must read for any designer or developer.

Screen Resolution != Browser Window

Something I’ve been preaching for years, but just because your web analytics say everyone visiting your site has as screen resolution of 4,000 pixels by 4,000 pixels doesn’t actually mean their browser is that size. Screen resolution size is not the same as browser window size. Most users, including myself, surf the web with their browser window at only a fraction of their screen resolution.

Jason Grigsby of CloudFour has posted an interesting (as always) article on the latest trends in mobile first responsive web design and the numbers show the majority of responsive designs provide very little, if any, file size savings for their mobile versions.