Web application development is ever-changing. As technology evolves, so do the alternatives we have to enhance a user’s experience. There are a number of trends that you’ll see in the coming months. These five are among the most likely to maintain momentum over the coming year.
1. Different Types and Sizes of Fonts
In the past, developers were limited to web-safe fonts. With web-safe fonts, anyone looking at an application would see the lettering as the developers intended.
With the increasing popularity and ease of embedding fonts into the application itself, developers are now free to use a variety of fonts. Designers can be more creative and a website can communicate with attitude.
Until fairly recently, developers, probably influenced by non-web graphic designers, seemed to think that using a small font made a website more prestigious than in-your-face. What everyone is now realizing is that if a font is so small that it’s difficult to read, people will simply move on rather than straining their eyes. This is especially true of mobile device users.
2. Flat Web Design
Maybe it’s because we’re all becoming more comfortable with computer usage, but the look of web applications is changing. It used to be that people wanted text with shadows, 3-D effects and elaborate fonts and design elements.
The move to “flat” design is being led by Gmail, Facebook and Windows 8. The look is cleaner, the lines are bolder and the colors richer. The design is intended to help users scan a page and quickly find what they need without the interruption of design elements getting in the way.
3. Responsive Design
Responsive web design will eventually stop being a trend and become implied in web design. At some point, we’ll stop talking about it as a separate issue.
With increased use of mobile devices of all types, an application needs to restructure itself automatically to conform to the requirements of any device regardless of size. Responsive means the application won’t just appear smaller — it needs to be able to transform itself to actually make mobile use easy.
4. Blurred Content
Blurred content is becoming more prevalent because the resources used to create that effect are being reduced as the technology evolves.
Today, applications have more and more capability. The difficulty is making sure that the user can move between functions without becoming overwhelmed.
Blurring some layers of an application to focus attention on a related function is proving to be an effective way of providing a wide range of capability while keeping the hierarchy of functions obvious to the user.
5. Parallax Scrolling
Parallax scrolling can be useful in design at times when you want to tell a story or add depth and movement to images. It brings a definite “wow” factor to an application. And, it helps keep visitors on a web page longer because they’re curious and it’s a novelty.
One of the pitfalls you can encounter if you build a parallax site is that the interface can get too complicated for the user to comprehend. Page load times can be so long that a good number of visitors get frustrated and leave the page before they know what they’re waiting for. It’s also more of a challenge to use when designing for responsive applications.
For an example of an excellent application of parallax scrolling, visit this Google Doodle that was made to celebrate the 112th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s birth. When you click on each image representing one of Steinbeck’s books, you’ll be taken to quotes from the book. But you won’t lose continuity of the overall story because the next book will pop up when the previous book’s story has been told.