It's an interesting and inspiring time to be a web designer considering that we're at the beginning of a technological boom. Technology is evolving at such a crazy pace that web designers may begin to feel overwhelmed or frustrated. Things aren't slowing down either. 2012 will continue to introduce significant change to websites, the Internet, and the devices that we use to access them. Today, I'm going to make your design life a little bit easier by going over the new web design trends of 2012. You'll also find that I have provided helpful tools and useful resources to help get you started.
1. Web Fonts Have Arrived
Web fonts, or web typography, simply refers to the use of fonts on the World Wide Web. In the past, typography implemented on websites has been generally limited to just a few standard font faces and styles. In 2011 we started noticing more and more the use of handwritten fonts in website design. 2012 is going to explode with the creative use of website fonts by utilizing web-based font replacement technology.
Adobe Typekit - The easiest way to use real fonts on your website.
Google Web Fonts - Hundreds of free, open-source fonts optimized for the web.
Fontdeck - The professional web font solution.
Fonts.com Web Fonts - Add great looking fonts to your website in a few easy steps.
Typecast - Design with web fonts, in the browser.
2. The Rise of Clould Technology
Cloud technology, or cloud computing, is Internet-based computing whereby shared resources are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. 2011 was an exciting year for the cloud in that it changed the way that web designers work and collaborate. With more designers starting to accept the idea of using web-based services instead of traditional services, the sky is the limit! 2012 will raise more awareness while catapulting cloud technology to the next level, especially with the launch of iCloud.
Apple iCloud - This is the cloud the way it should be: automatic and effortless.
Dropbox - Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily.
Microsoft Cloud - The most comprehensive solutions for the cloud. On earth.
JustCloud - Professional cloud storage from JustCloud is simple, fast and unlimited.
3. UX Design Jumps The Line
User experience (UX) design is simply the focus of designing a website to be user friendly by utilizing flexible design that's accessible on all devices. Without users, a website doesn't exist. That's why UX design has jumped to the front of the line in the web design community. In 2011, popular phrases such as mobile first, responsive design and adaptive design shook up the industry. All three of these practices, among others, are standard attributes of UX design. 2012 will continue to make leaps and bounds for user experience while making design more accessible than ever before. Experts may even go as far as stating that 2012 will be the year of UX design.
Axure - Axure RP gives you the wireframing, prototyping and specification tools needed to make informed design choices, persuade any skeptics, get your design built to spec... and maybe win a few fans along the way.
QuirkTools Screenfly - Test your website at different screen resolutions.
Adaptive Images - Adaptive Images detects your visitor's screen size and automatically creates, caches, and delivers device appropriate re-scaled versions of your web page's embeded HTML images.
Responsive Web Design Sketch Sheets - To help think through layouts for various devices.
ResponsivePX - Find that tricky breakpoint.
4. HTML5 & CSS3 Are Paving The Way
HTML and CSS are basic coding elements of a website or web application. Now that HTML5 and CSS3 have been unpackaged and utilized, further experimentation and innovation appears to be promising. Although coding isn't a primary responsibility, nor a job duty of a web designer, having the knowledge and understanding of both HTML and CSS is good to know. 2012 will prove that HTML5 and CSS3 are the future of the web and shouldn't be taken lightly.
HTML5 Doctor - Helping you implement HTML5 today.
The HTML5 Test - How well does your browser support HTML5?
Initializr - Initializr is an HTML5 templates generator.
CSS3 Generator - Border Radius, Box Shadow, Text Shadow , RGBA, @Font Face, Multiple Columns, Box Resize, Box Sizing, Outline, Transitions, Transform, Selectors and Gradients.
CSS Patterns Gallery - The patterns themselves should work on Firefox 3.6+, Chrome, Safari 5.1, Opera 11.10+ and IE10+.
PrefixMyCSS - Prefix your CSS3 code. Instantly!
5. Social Media is Just Getting Started
The Social Media industry displayed exceptional growth in 2011. We witnessed the exciting launch of Google+ and the redesigns of both Facebook and Twitter. The importance of Social Media for web designers doesn't need much explaining. Social sites provide designers with fast, simple access to the latest design news and technological developments. 2012 will continue to garner lots of attention towards Social Media while decreasing the gap between websites and social platforms.
Google+ - Real life sharing, rethought for the web.
TweetDeck - TweetDeck is an app that brings more flexibility and insight to power users.
HootSuite - The leading social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks.
More 2012 Web Design Predictions:
- Seasoned design professionals will migrate towards entrepreneurship and designer co-founded startups.
- Monthly subscriptions for both physical and web-based designer tools will blow up.
- Websites will become incredibly simpler, or minimalistic in nature to focus more on user experience.
- The overdue demise of Internet Explorer! Yes, I know that won't happen, but it's nice to dream!
Wrapping It Up
Everything changes. The Internet and technology as we know it today will be different tomorrow, that's just how things are. As we continue to move forward, web fonts, the cloud, UX design, coding and Social Media will become a part of every web designer's arsenal. The growing understanding that design can make or break a website or product will show that designers are an essential ingredient of a successful business module.