Web Design Trends for 2009

istock_2009At the beginning of each year, I like to take a spin around the virtual world and see what other designers predict as hot trends for site design.

Spotting a trend that’s going to last a while isn’t always easy. At first glance, some trends might show promise but on closer inspection don’t have the power to last. Others seem like nothing special and end up taking the Internet by storm.

A Look Back at Last Year

My trend predictions for 2008 were pretty close to what actually happened – and here’s a look at what was hot this past year:

The Magazine Theme:Magazine style themes were pretty hot for 2008 – and now they’ve been so done that they’re nothing new.

Footer Navigation: Where there was once only a lonely copyright, there is now footer navigation. This trend got some traction in 2008, and it’s still alive and well in ’09.

Retro/Grunge: The Retro 70s graphic styling with solid geometric shapes and funky colors was popular last year, and so was the gritty look of Grunge. In my opinion, both became over-played.

3D Layers:Nothing is more challenging than creating optical illusions on web pages, and nothing is more fun. 2008 saw plenty of designers creating pages with 3D sticky notes, pens and the occasional coffee stain. Now leaving that trend behind are designers who choose to use rich textures, lighting and color to push the 3D experience further.

A Look Ahead at This Year

So what are the predictions for hot design trends for 2009? Let’s have a peek:

Slideshow/Galleries: Having a slider or rotating gallery on your main page is very hot right now. After magazine-style layouts gained popularity, slideshows started growing in numbers as well. With a slider such as the one in Brian Gardner’s Revolution Office theme, images are generated from a custom field for thumbnails that adds to the slider bar. You still get the benefits of showcasing archives or your most recent posts taking up screen real estate space in the process.

Transparent PNG Images: Before 1995, when PNG files were created, designers worked with GIF images. Although GIF was great for transparencies, the files only used 256 colors as opposed to the PNG file’s sharper compression and ability to use literally millions of colors, which makes for crisper images with better blending between gradients. Even better? PNG has gone transparent.

Wrap-Around Banners:Wrap-around banners come from the evolution of the 3D movement and give the illusion of a banner wrapped around a sidebar, content area or header. For those of you interested in banner wrapping, take a look at this tutorial.

Wood is Good: For backgrounds, that is. This trend got going in 2008 and I don’t see it slowing down for ’09 either. Other types of natural textures, like cloth, paper and stone, make for just as nice backgrounds as well.

All On One Page: Magazine themes were great, but many people didn’t like all the scrolling involved in viewing the full page. Some of those magazine themes can get pretty long. Recent trends have designers working on getting that main page down to a size that fits neatly into a browser window with no scrolling required at all. With the use of slideshows and tabbed (dynamic) navigation in the sidebar, achieving this single-page look is easier than ever.

There are so many good ideas out there the list could go on forever. Which upcoming trends have you spotted? If it isn’t listed here, add it to the comments and tell us what you think. Next year we’ll see which trends held up and which ones bit the dust.

Post by Agent X

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