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Web design trends for 2015

It's that time again! The new year is just around the corner, making it the perfect time to reflect on the web design trends from this past year. This article will take a look at what web design trends we expect to carry into 2015.

Web design trends we'll see more of in 2015

Responsive design

More users are choosing to browse the web on a mobile device than ever before, making it even more crucial for businesses to maintain a mobile web presence. Responsive design has now become a standard for modern websites and continues to be a viable mobile solution.

How to choose the best font combination for your web design

Typography is an important part of any web design, and choosing the right combination of fonts can be tricky. The seemingly endless amount of options and overwhelming variety of styles can make it a daunting task. But don't worry! You can make the process easier with the following guidelines to help point you in the right direction.

The pros and cons of hero graphics

Designing a website that will make an impact on its viewers can be tricky. There are lots of ways to capture attention and engage your audience, and choosing the best method for your website can be a challenge. One increasingly popular attention-grabber is the hero graphic.

A hero graphic is an introductory-type area of a website that generally consists of a large banner image accompanied by a minimal amount of text and/or a call to action. This typically is the first thing a user encounters on the homepage of a website.

Four Examples of Great Interactive Annual Reports

Check out a newer version of this post! For more recent examples, head over to our latest online annual report showcase.

Business man pointing to an annual report
As more companies begin to go beyond print-only and compliment their annual reporting by presenting this information online, one of the first questions that may come up is "How do you make an interactive annual report?"

Many companies—from Facebook to Proctor & Gamble—host their annual reports online in straight-forward, archival pdf format. This direct strategy makes annual reports easy-to-download and simple to search; however, going with the pdf format limits what can be added with ease in the future and many times it doesn't taking advantage of the Web's interactive capabilities.

Practical uses of animated GIFs in web design

What comes to mind when you hear "animated GIF"? Do you think back to the days when animated clip art ruled on websites hosted on Geocities and MySpace? Do you associate the term with Tumblr or Buzzfeed, where animated GIFs pop up on a daily basis? (If all you're thinking is "what's a GIF?" then check out this short Animated GIF documentary.)

Regardless of your familiarity, what you may not realize is that animated GIFs can be valuable tools for anything from design mock-ups to email marketing pitches.

Type talk: Improving your typography

Capline, meanline, baseline, beardline. X-height, ascender, decender. Kerning, leading, font size, set width. When it comes to typography, there are a lot of technical terms to learn to become an expert, but you don't have to know every last detail to talk intelligently about type and make decisions about what type to use and how best to use it.
(Photography by Relly Annett-Baker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Refine your digital presence with web fonts

Web fonts are web-safe fonts that offer more flexibility for designers in terms of typography. Before web fonts, there were only a handful of fonts (like Arial and Verdana) that were rendered the same by almost all web browsers. With web fonts, designers now can creatively use just about any typeface online without having to embed fonts as graphics.

2013 Color Trends for the Web

2013 Color Trends for the Web
The web has fads that come and go, and color is one of these trends to keep in mind. The use of color on a website sets the mood and visually communicates the brand personality of a website. For 2013, we are seeing both the use of calmer, more subdued color palettes as well as palettes pairing bright neons with gray hues.

These trends are also influenced by Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013, which is emerald.

Technology Trend: Adobe Creative Cloud

For web designers and developers, using cloud-based software has become the norm. Our days are spent creating Google Docs, sifting through DropBox, screen-sharing for collaboration and Skyping on client calls. One of the design community’s longtime tools, Adobe Creative Suite, has ascended into the cloud with their new software, Adobe Creative Cloud. This is a trend among computer software companies, which allows them to reach their users in an entirely new way. Cloud-computing changes the way we interact with one another, collaborate, share documents, and communicate.

When is a one-page website a good option for a website?

When is a one-page website a good option for a website?
Single-page websites can be a great solution for small businesses and clients with modest budgets. These types of websites display content on a single page, giving users a unique experience by encouraging vertical scrolling rather than clicking through to interior pages.

Today, we'll explore the benefits and risks associated with developing a single-page website, as well as showcase examples—across various industries—using this web solution successfully.

Sketch your way to user experience success

The well-known adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" means a lot when it comes to planning a website. In his book Sketching User Experience, UX guru Bill Buxton wrote that sketching "does not represent a refined proposal, but rather simply suggests a tentative concept." It's the freedom, energy, and minimal detail of simple sketches that invites the flow of suggestions and refinements that lead to stronger, more refined concepts and ideas.

Sketches are an inexpensive and timely tool that help everyone involved with the creation of a new website (or those participating in a website redesign) to visually understand how users will interact with content. While words can help explain functionality, sketches that show everything from the location of navigation and placement of buttons takes concepts to the next level by adding concrete complexity. 

Web design: How do you decide on a typeface?

Bold typeface
There are a variety of font options available these days, but how do you choose the right one? When making type decisions for your website, it's important to consider readability, pairing, kerning, and more.

Readability

Avoid using a small font size for the main sections of website copy. Aim to keep your text between 12 to 14 pt to maximize readability. To help make scanning easier for your users, consider setting your headlines and subheads in a different typeface or style.

QR Codes: Fad or here to stay?

An example QR Code.

What is a QR Code?

QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) have been around since 1994, believe it or not. The Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave used QR Codes to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. During the past few years, they have become popular among advertisements and marketing campaigns.

Web & Graphic Design: Favorite "Go To" Books

I've always been one of those students that buys every book for every class. The only book renting I have done is for classes that don't really deal with design. Some books the professors pick are outdated and irrelevant in 6 months. My favorite books aren't necessarily timeless, but they will be helpful for many years to come.

Below I have listed my favorite books and why I keep going back to them time after time.

Change is coming to YouTube Channels

YouTube—the video-sharing giant that hosts everything from scholarly commentaries and "missing cat" commercials—is rolling out a new look and feel for its Channels. These updates are intended to make it easier for users to find and watch content.

Currently account owners can opt into the new Channels design. The new Channels format isn't mandatory. However, all Channels will automatically switch to the new design one month from today on March 7. If you own or operate a YouTube account, now is the perfect time to plan and make your transition to ensure it's as smooth as possible.

Among the changes are different sizes and placements of graphics on Channels. The most noticeable graphics-related change is that the new format no longer allows for a separate banner. When you adopt the new Channels format, you're allowed to select one of four templates to customize in a way that will help you best keep your viewers engaged and coming back.

The new Channels format also gives you many opportunities to optimize your YouTube account for better search engine results. This helpful blog post chronicles some of the things to look out for when you're updating your account. The tutorial includes step-by-step screen grabs with the instructions.


Web Design Trends for 2012: Large High Quality Photograph Backgrounds

We are doing a series of 2012 web design trends, and our fifth prediction for web design trends in 2012 is large high quality photograph backgrounds.

Large, high quality photograph backgrounds can add a lot to a company's website. It is important that they are high quality images. You do not want a large, pixelated background; it is not enjoyable for the user. Just a tip from graphic and web designers everywhere: never enlarge a photograph. Be sure to only size images down. If your picture is not large enough to use as a background for a webpage, then don't use it. Below are a few websites that use the large, high quality photograph technique for their backgrounds:

Smoking Takes Lives features a story of Mick Roberts (whose life was changed by smoking). This large photograph will help to grab the user and have them watch the video before accessing any other part of the website.

Smoking Takes Lives' homepage. Visit the site.

Simon & Comet's website features his motorsport photography. After translating the webpage to English, I noticed that he also is a web designer. He has a passion for motorsports. It is a great way to combine the two things he is passionate about.

Simon & Comet's homepage. Visit the site.

Poco People's homepage has a very nice "pop" of color. Your eyes are immediately drawn to Travis and Kelly (the owners) in the middle. Just a simple red scarf and red jacket are all they needed to attract the user.

Poco People's homepage. Visit the site.

Just remember, not every website will look great with a large photograph background. When in doubt, ask a web or graphic designer. A company that sells kitchen knives will probably lose customers if there is a very large butcher knife pictured on their homepage. What looks great to you might not look great to the user.

Web Design Trends for 2012: Typography

We are doing a series of 2012 web design trends, and our fourth prediction for web design trends in 2012 is typography.

Typography is probably my favorite trend in web design (if I had to choose just one). I could spend hours looking at beautiful typography on the Internet. There are several examples out there; Google gave me 31,200,000 results for "typography web design". I found it incredibly difficult to only pick three websites to showcase.

Web design graphics: Constructing an effective infographic

Web design graphics: Constructing an effective infographic
Infographics, or information graphics, have been all over the Internet lately. Infographics can be effective on your website to add appeal, uniqueness, professionalism and overall interest. What is an infographic, exactly? You've probably seen one before, but had no idea it was called an infographic.

Below is an example from Daily Infographic. This is a great example. They can be serious, or silly. Possibilities are endless, really. Be careful not to add too much information to the infographic. It is easy to make an infographic very cluttered and hard to read. Adding sources to your infographic is always a must. Users like to see where the statistics and information came from. The sources like to get credit for having their information on the infographic as well.

Brand identity & why it's important

Is your company in need of a branding makeover?

The business dictionary states that brand identity is “the visible elements of a brand (such as colors, design, logotype, name, symbol) that together identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers' mind.”
Let’s face it. The first thing customers are probably going to see is your logo. Your logo is the face of your company. You want it to look nice, and make sense . . . right? 

There are several different items that contribute to identity; logos are not the only thing your company needs.

To use stock or not to use stock

Should you use stock photography and illustration for web design projects when you're on a budget?

When your web design project has a tight budget, the line item associated with imagery can be the first one cut, or drastically trimmed. When chosen carefully, compelling illustration and photography paired with great copy are the key to successful content. If a man from Mars can't figure out what your website is about in five seconds, you're failing. Great, non-generic imagery can help you communicate your brand and goals faster, which is why it's important to invest in your website's imagery and choose it wisely.

Shannon shared tips before for how to enhance stock photography. It's a great guide if you've already made the decision to use stock imagery, but what if you aren't sure which way to go with your web design project? Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to use stock:

How long will it take you to find the perfect image?

"90% of the time I opt for a more expensive stockhouse over iStockphoto," says Chicago-area art director Sharlene King. "It's the sloppiness of keyword loading. Time equals money."

Because users submit their own tags, inexpensive stock photography websites are notoriously awful when it comes to tagging. If you're looking for a straight-forward image, like a red ball, you should find relatively accurate results; however, if you search for something even slightly subjective, get ready to spend some time digging through ridiculous results.

"Average woman"

Why does a search for an "average woman" display
a lady posing with a huge gun?
(Screengrab courtesy of Sharlene King)

"Vegetarian food"

Why does a search for "vegetarian food" include a photo
of meat fondue? (Screengrab courtesy of Sharlene King)

How long will it take you to make a not-quite-right image work?

Ask yourself: If you made the budgetary decision to save money by paying for an inexpensive stock image but ended up spending a few hours in Photoshop to make it work, was it really worth the initial savings?

How many other people might be using this image?

Is the stock image you're thinking about using popular? If it's been downloaded many times, does the risk that other websites—including your competition—make a difference to you?

Is this a prominent image or a tiny spot?

Is the stock image front and center as a key communicator of your brand? How important is authenticity in your project?

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