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The world of web design has seen many changes in last decade. How we design is determined by the times, the current trends and the latest fads in the age of blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Below are five factors currently affecting design.
- The Facebook interface
- Screen resolution defaults
- Font replacement
- Design for sale
Facebook is very proud of their 500 million+ active users who cumulatively spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. To avoid frustrating these Facebook literate users, web-designers are going to have to start following the User Interface conventions that Facebook has created: Vertical page navigation on the left; User navigation top right; Content centre; Ads and extras on the right. This is also the layout we are used to from the Google results page too.
For a long time web-designers have been telling their clients about the default monitor resolution of 1024 pixel x 768 pixels. If you subtract some space for browser scroll-bars and some general breathing space, you are left with 960 pixels of width to play with. The 960 Grid System by Nathan Smith has some very popular 12 and 16 column layouts, which designers have been using to create great structured web designs for 1024 x 768 screens.
Things are changing according to StatCounter. The stock standard 1024 x 768 resolution has lost more than 6% share in the last year, bringing it down to 24% of monitor resolutions. Larger width resolutions now account for more than 65% of audiences.
A great solution to the variety of screen resolutions out there is what is known as “responsive web-design”. As the screen resolution changes, the CSS forces a new layout on the site. Check out some great examples here.
One day we won’t remember the term “web-safe fonts” — the selection of fonts available on most computers, which has constrained web design for two decades. At the end of 2009 Furniture giant Ikea swopped their classic Futura for the web generic Verdana on all their materials. The motivation was to synchronise their web layouts with their printed layouts. A year later dynamic font replacement became standard practice.
Services like Cufón and Google fonts allow web-designers access to a much wider selection. Sadly @font-face recently bowed out of the hosted font arena after Google made its announcement to enter with Google Fonts.
How often have designers been given the site reference of Apple.com, a clean glossy website, to model their designs after? Apple also affects the lives of web designers by producing new devices with new resolutions and improving the resolutions of old devices too. The iPhone 4 displays at a resolution higher than most magazines at 326ppi.
iPads and iPhones also don’t display Adobe Flash files either, which means designers need to come up with alternatives for these pages.
Famous online stock photography sites like iStockphoto or theme sites like Themeforest and Woothemes and various Logo contests sites, mean that users can buy most of the design elements for their site and build with out much design help. This means that either designers should get a budget for buying web-design elements, or they need to work harder to stay ahead of the game.