Friday, November 12, 2010

Web Design Trends for 2011

I read through this blog about 2010 trends in web design because I wanted to see how accurate it was for 2010. The blog was written in November 2009, a year ago from today! They listed 14 trends that would be featured in 2010 along with their main purpose.

After skimming through this article, I would say that everything was DEAD on. The only one I have to question is Interactive design through Flash. I still love Flash and feel that it could be implemented lightly in a site, but not as the WHOLE site. They did give an excellent example of a site that was built all in Flash, but the fact that people who do not have Flash cannot view it bothers me (e.g. iPad and mobile devices). AS another option, jQuery has jumped in and made a huge impact for people that still want to use animation.

After reading this article, I thought I would see what I could come up with for possible trends for 2011. I repeated a few of the 2010 trends, because they were good and will surely be used again in 2011. I used CSSElite and CSSDrive to sift through websites and check out the trends.

1. 3D Effect/Wrap around Boxes



I believe that this is becoming a trend because EVERYONE is talking about 3D. Video games are huge, the movie theater has 3D and now you can even buy a 3D tv for your home. So although we don't have a 3D computer screen, yet, we sure can design to make it SEEM 3D.

2. Hand Drawn Images/Cartoon Images



The website above is an example of the Cartoon Images. I've seen a lot of them in web design for 2010, and believe we will see more in 2011.

I did want to say one thing about this website sample above. I found this site on CSSDrive, I clicked on it believing that it was just a cartoon image website that looked pretty neat. As I went to the site, I realized that it is Flash. So although I don't think that entire websites should be made in Flash (because it's not accessible for everyone), this is one of the best Flash sites that I have seen AND the Flash wasn't made to make everything look fancy -- it's interactive. So I would say check this site out and have fun!


I feel that this trend is self explanatory. If you are an awesome artist or know someone who has artist talent, have them draw you something AWESOME to put on a website! This concept kind of puts a personal touch on a website, especially if it is a personal type of website because it shows the real you.

3. Black and White Icons/Buttons, On Hover become Color

Wooo, that was a mouthful, but with some examples it will become more clear.


This design trick adds an element of surprise for the user, which is always nice. I do believe it is becoming a trend. Even Blogger uses this trick with its social icons below each post.


4. Large Headers


Large, elaborate, exquisite headers. They're IN!

This is a trend used to capture the users interest. It takes the user on average 10 seconds (or less) to decide if they are going to stay on a website. This is where big headers come into place. They explain what that website is about, grabs the users attention, and it is the first thing that the user sees.

5. Typography


Typography is used to make a website more interesting. If used right (which is difficult if you don't know much about type), you can make a beautiful website. Using typography can also help a website look clean and neat. It hasn't been easy using different fonts for a websites actual font (I'm not talking about images that include font), but we now have Google Font Directory and websites like TypeKit. These sites allow web developers/designers to use new fonts on their website instead of the default fonts that have been around forever.

6. One Page Layout

I think that this goes two ways. In the blog for 2010, they gave an example of a website that had all of the information on it that was contained in the screens dimensions. I would say that this is definitely included in a trend, but I don't want to leave out the websites that have all of their content on one page, but still have a navigation that will take the user down to that certain content. To me, this is more of a trend than an actual one page layout.

I'll show the design from the other blog first and then the one that I picked to show the other type of one page layout.

and then....


If you click around on the navigation, the page moves from top to bottom showing you additional information. This is more of a trend to me then the first website I posted above.

7. Simple/Minimalism

Simple. Clean. Clear.

This trend is becoming more and more prominent because the user spends less and less time on a website. With a simple website, the user can read the first line on the page and know what the website is about. This is also useful for mobile phone, there isn't a lot of space to design so the trend has become white space, white space, white space, minimal design. This is effective when you have a small space and have to focus on just the main part of the website.

8. Big Footers

Big footers are still being used and to me are still considered a trend. Not only can you put additional information in them, but you can list all of your links. A site map that is on every page. Now the user doesn't have to find the site map link, they can just scroll to the bottom of each page. The big footer also leaves room for the designer to add a little interest to their page with some subtle design.

Those are the trends that I for see for 2011. Some trends have carried on through the years, but there are always new and exciting trends that pop up. I encourage readers to post any additional comments or trends that they think will show up in 2011.

~ Shannon

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dot Net Nuke Content Management System Reviewed (not to be confused with Duke Nukem)

DotNetNuke (DNN) is an open-source CMS using Microsoft .NET technology and MS SQL database that claims to offer no limits on design (called skins), great security, membership options which are all manageable through browser-based tools. In their Professional Edition, they have a view called layout where the customer can view the modules (content areas) on the page and move them to different areas of the page. We thought this was a really cool added bonus feature (very similar to what Blogger.com offers within their layout view as a blogging platform). They allow you to translate your site into any language, and they also have native support always available to help with any questions.


Best Features
  • Feature-Rich: customized through simple, browser-based tools (called modules)
  • Leading-Edge: technologies like ASP.NET, Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server, and IIS
  • Flexible: supports multiple web sites from a single application
  • Localized: Multi-language localization to easily translate
Additional Features
  • Easy to Install
  • Easy to Use
  • Recognized
Flaws
A few drawbacks others have noted:
  • It is rather intense to implement (interesting, considering they suggest one of its benefits as 'easy to install')
  • The application takes up a lot of server resources
  • Figuring it all out has a steep learning curve (typical for most CMS, but I wouldn't advise anyone to start on the web with DNN)
  • Documentation that hasn’t been updated for almost three years
Cost
DotNetNuke offers three editions: community, professional, and enterprise. The community edition is free, while the other two have special features that you do have to pay for. DotNetNuke asks you to contact them for more details and pricing. sales@dnncorp.com or (650) 288 - 3150. I did a little digging and contacted DotNetNuke, they did give me a price for the Professional Edition, which is $2,500 for one year. This package offers a commercial license, optimized for business-critical applications and online support from DotNetNuke Corp.

Duke Nukem NOT related to Dot Net Nuke
Sample Sites that use DotNetNuke
Summary
Overall, we think DotNetNuke is a good, open-source, Windows CMS. Here is an awesome blog from The Accidental Geek about getting started with DotNetNuke or take a tour (PDF).

On a separate note, I did contact DotNetNuke to ask if they had a live demo, like Umbraco and ExpressionEngine, that allowed the customer to see what the inside of system looks like and how it works. The response was that I could either install and set up a trail, or I could watch this webinar (which is over 50 minutes long). Although the video is not the greatest marketing piece or attractive sales pitch, I learned about some features that were not advertised on their site.
  • A Recycled Files folder, which contains pages and modules that have been deleted
  • Built in Google Analytics Feature
  • Workflow Management, example: content that needs to be approved before publishing
  • Mobile phone compatible, as far as they have seen
  • Controllable meta-data

I also asked them if they could answer a few questions for us, but they gave back vague answers which was disappointing.  I told them I was posting a blog about it, so I decided to show the exact questions and answers below.
  1. What specifically makes your system better than other CMS system available?
    DNN rep: It is very extensible, very widely deployed around the world and we have a large marketplace of third party extensions, snowcovered.com.
  2. How would you rate the learning curve for setting up and configuring a site with DotNetNuke?
    DNN rep: Not too bad, after DNN is installed, it is geared for the Non-Technical user.
    [ Some of the users linked above thought otherwise. ]
  3. What are the most common complaints that you receive about the software?
    DNN rep: Don't know.
  4. Can you provide some of the best or most well-known companies or websites using the software?
    DNN rep: I have attached a PowerPoint slide with some URLs.
    [ I listed a few of these above. ]
  5. What are your most well-received modules?
    DNN rep: They are all well received.
    [ With very little review, we identified one of their coolest features in our first statement above! Seems odd they couldn't brag about a few things... 'Everything is perfect and wonderful' is a very lame response. ]
I again or if anyone else could help to get more specific answers, especially on the "don't know" response, but received nothing more than a series of questions back to me about when I was going to purchase. In the end, if I were ready to purchase a new CMS, I would not go with them over Umbraco or Expression Engine simply based on these non-useful replies.

 

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