The Biggest Web Design Trends of 2011

webdesign4Since we are over seven months into the year I decided it was time to give my take on what may happen in web design in 2011. (At least I thought I should probably write it before the year was over.)

So, over the past several weeks I have read a number of my favourite web design magazines, web design blogs and articles and viewed a number of cutting edge websites, particularly outside of North America, so that I could share some thoughts about what appears to be some of the major trends in website design for 2011. There is nothing scientific contained here, just some observations.

1. Less Use of Flash

It is not the fact that Flash is not a great technology…(when used appropriately it is)…but in the past year or so it has been over used, misused, abused to the point that it has developed a bad reputation. Certainly, the ongoing shenanigans between Adobe (creator of Flash) and Apple (iPhone and iPad) are not helping the situation. Today, websites need to have a clean, uncluttered design, fast loading and above all must be Search Engine friendly. This is a problem for Flash and now with the coming of the new web coding languages of HTML5 and CSS3, together with the explosive growth of web surfing on mobile devices perhaps it is the beginning of the end of Flash in web design.

2. Simpler and Cleaner Design

Simple. Minimal. Uncluttered. There’s nothing quite as “attention grabbing” as an honest, straightforward message on a quiet backdrop. Quiet can be interpreted several different ways. Forget black and white or shades of gray, although these are still very popular in certain industries. Think of green, yellow, red or even blue as your primary color. However, limit your palette to two or three colors. Work within the shades of each color for variety and depth. It can be truly remarkable what a few colors can do for effective messaging.

3. Mobile Ready Design

Smartphones, tablets, netbooks, the list goes on and on. There’s a dizzying amount of mobile products available to the consumer in 2011. This means your web design must be responsive to multiple devices. Creating a mobile ready website is not simply removing the bells and whistles from your existing design. One of the most important advances is that you can design a whole site and allow your coding to conform to the user’s viewing medium. It may be tempting to just create a dedicated mobile site, but that may no longer satisfy your audience. Increasingly, mobile sites include the option to visit the original site. If you do not offer this option or if your original site is not optimized to mobile standards, you are simply not ready for 2011. Forecasters predict that smartphones will outsell personal computers this year, and by 2013 more time will be spent surfing the internet on a mobile device than on a personal computer.

4. Large Photographic Backgrounds

Large scale backdrops will surge in 2011. These images will be high resolution, and covering the entire site. Large photos are an instant way to grab your audience. Massive images were once taboo for web designers, but thanks to better image optimization, faster internet connections, and smarter loading methods, designers can gain a lot in some sites by pushing image sizes to the maximum. Trends also
point to soft and slightly transparent imagery that does not overshadow your content, but harmonizes with it.

5. QR: Quick Response

You may have noticed those square barcodes (looks like lots of squiggly unrelated lines) popping up on business cards, magazines or elsewhere, so you may already know that they are a hot trend for 2011. These barcodes are called QR, short for Quick Response. And how exactly does QR translate into web design? Quite well, in fact. Simply take a photo of the unique barcode with your camera phone. Like magic, your phone will call up the website associated with that barcode. The beautiful thing about QR is the flexibility. Feature your QR on your website, in order for site visitors to have a shortcut to your mobile site. 2011 is all about mobility and it will be smart to take advantage of this new medium.

6. Thumbnail Design

Our good friends at Google have introduced the average internet user to thumbnail browsing. The days of clicking through to see the content of a website are now gone. Now, you just click on the magnifying glass and hover. And just like magic before your eyes is a glimpse of what waits on the other side of your click. This is another issue for Flash-based design that is definitely going to be a problem.
The preview will not display those elements of your design. As the average internet surfer becomes more internet-savvy in 2011, expect to see more people navigating by these means.

These are by no means a complete listing of all the trends. In fact, we could probably write an entire posting on the trends in the use of different fonts alone.

Drop me a line and let me know what trends you have noticed and what you think of them.

Steve Loates is an entrepreneur who has owned and operated his own retail business for over 25 years. He has been involved in web design and internet marketing for the past 10 years and is passionate about helping small business to grow and succeed by leveraging the full power of the web and internet marketing. If you are a small business owner with questions please contact us to learn more about website design and internet web marketing. http://www.aissolutions.ca

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  • Do you think there may be a trend forward for Flash because of all the new flash compatible boasting for anything other then an I-pad? Blackberry started running Flash as the main theme of a TV commercial that I just saw for the first time about 6 weeks ago. And slate, tablet, etc.. they all make a point of Flash now. Certainly its an easy pain point to use against Apple, so why not grow on it as a serious competitor?

  • Nice list of trends. I agree with all and i hope less flash 🙂 Also i would like to add that new trends will use bigger buttons and fonts. Variation of fonts makes websites looks very differently and much more use o vector images and 3d like elements

  • “Large Photographic Backgrounds” seem to be replacing Flash as the web design tarbaby for designers with no regard for load times or actual users.

    They implemented in on imdb.com and it’s a disaster, IMHO.

    Well, thank heaven the world has finally seen through those ridiculous Flash introductions. I’d say this is progress, since the Big Background Photos weigh less than Flash, except that, at least, Flash can (and more often than not, does) at least make an attractive web page.

    Background photos, at least the ones I have seen, are 100% hideous and completely ignore the principle of leading the eye to the content.

  • I totally agree on use of flash. It slows down the website and does not provide the necessarily crawl-able content for Google.

  • I haven’t seen websites that use large photographic backgrounds (except Bing), but it’s possible that I will soon. I’m interested in seeing how they are utilized without distracting the eyes away from the page content or affecting readability. While flash was cool, I’m happy to see it go. Plus it doesn’t help with getting your page indexed, because search engine spiders can’t read it.

  • Flash captivates our eyes, we sometimes designers abused the use of it but anyways thank you for sharing this one because it helps us in designing. For me, simplicity is the best.

  • More simpler website designs are definitely a trend, where else before there was so a trend of displaying everything on the home page, now giving it a more cleaner and simpler look is the way forward. Also the trend of having white background websites compared to colours.

  • Creating a SEO friendly site is important.

    Flashing images are nice but load slows and also not very SEO friendly.

    So beware on that. Good luck people!

  • Web Designing is process of develop a website by using php, asp.net, html, javascript, xml etc. This blog is very useful to me.

  • Great article, Thanks.
    I think you forget to mention responsive design.
    I think it will be very popular soon.
    Here is little article about Responsive design

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    […] The Biggest Website Design Trends of 2011 | SiteProNews: Webmaster … […]

  • Use of large image backgrounds started during 2011 too, which I believe is a great application in web industry.

    Earlier though this strategy was used on travel and portfolio related websites, using this technique to represent a brand was innovative. Moreover, Jquery started during this period too.


    • Thanks for the feedback, Ayesha. Things have certainly changed since 2011.
      Today there is much more focus on simplicity, speed and responsive design to help accommodate the incredible growth in smartphones and tablets.