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5 Trends in Web Design for 2011

Published on January 25, 2011
Tags: Web Design London

As with any rapidly expanding industry that’s reliant on technology, the world of web design is fast-changing and constantly evolving. Whether you're a designer, developer, or responsible for the rebuild of your personal or company web site, we take a look at some of the key issues and changes that will be affecting web designs over the coming months and years.

Tablet Computers

Since the release of Apple’s iPad, the popularity and demand for the tablet computer is continuing to grow. As more people use these computers, they’ll also be using them to browse on the internet, posing a challenge for web designers. This is something of an urgent issue, considering the predictions from Forrester Research that tablet computers such as the iPad will occupy around a quarter of the market within five years. This growth is predicted to come largely at the expense of desktop PCs rather than portable devices, suggesting that web designers are going to have to act to create websites that work on an increasing range of portable items.

One issue to be considered is the versatility of portable devices. For example, the ability to use the tablet computer either horizontally or vertically not only gives consumers more options but also means that website designers may have to incorporate two different designs for websites so they can easily be viewed however consumers use their computers. This means there is a need for more versatile web design templates that can be utilised on a growing range of screen types, from tablet computers to new laptops, netbooks and smartphones.


Related to this is the massive growth of touchscreen devices. This means that new features have to be built into websites to be able to accommodate the different methods of operation. For example, while traditional website design has to be suitable for a mouse clicking links and moving around the screen, touchscreen technology means that allowances have to be made to make up for the fact it’s people’s fingers doing the pointing and clicking, rather than the mouse. The impact here is that links and buttons need to be bigger and more spaced out to accommodate for the larger finger over the traditional mouse cursor.

For a while, this has been an issue confined to smartphones, but with the growth of tablet computers and other touchscreen technology, it is an issue that’s becoming more mainstream. This in turn throws up questions for web designers relating to design and aesthetics; after all, it isn’t just a case of incorporating larger buttons - for websites to remain attractive as well as functional, there is going to have to be a shift in design so that none of their visual impact is lost.

Web TV

Relatively new on the block is WebTV (Internet via your TV set). Again, this introduces some interesting challenges as screens will typically be viewed from a distance (around 10ft) and need larger fonts and graphics on effectively a smaller screen resolution. Google has produced an excellent primer on web designing for WebTV.


There are also changes happening in the world of web fonts. One challenge that web designers have faced for a while now is the restriction over the different fonts they can use as they can’t always guarantee that they’ll be supported by different operating systems. This can often affect the viewing experience of web users or often prevent particular fonts from showing up at all. The reason for this is simple: the most widely used and accessible fonts are those that are saved or available on the greatest number of machines. If a designer uses a font that is somewhat obscure, the chances of it being supported are lower.

The growth of cloud computing and the emergence of CSS3, though, means that more fonts with attractive designs are becoming more commonly supported through web-based hosts such as Google. One recent development here is Google Web Fonts) which allows web designers to access Google’s massive database of fonts for free under an open agreement. This works through the Google Font API, which works on the vast majority of browsers and is easy to use, thus opening up the options available for internet typography. This presents web designers with more options and means they can be more creative in their designs and the fonts used in them.

Smart Phones

One final challenge for web designers is the growth of mobile internet and the need to develop websites that can be viewed on much smaller screens such as those featured on mobile smartphones. This is another phenomenon that needs urgent attention: Morgan Stanley recently released some research that suggests there will be 1 billion heavy mobile data users by 2013 and that smartphones are fast on their way to outselling PCs globally. While many companies are not yet focused on adapting their websites for mobile devices, it is a growing trend and we can expect to see web designers spending more time on this in the future. When you consider that 100million Facebook users currently access the site through their mobiles, it becomes clear that the growth of the mobile internet is not a trend that can be ignored.

Mobile internet has also opened up a whole new area of web design, not just through the need to develop sites to fit a range of (often small) screen sizes, but through the growth of apps. The iPhone is probably the best example of the growth of apps, but there is increasingly a market for BlackBerry, Android and other styles of app that have to be tailored to individual operating systems, creating a major challenge for web designers to adapt to a new style of design and programming that many will not be familiar with. And tied in closely with this is the small matter of the search engines, as creating a mobile version of a main site can cause duplicate content issues if not handled properly, though thankfully with a web developer or search engine optimisation on board that understands these issues, any problems can be negated.

This is just a sample of the emerging challenges for web designers in 2011 and beyond. If you’ve thought of others whilst reading this article, why not complete the comments box below, tell us about them and we’ll publish them here!

By Chelsey Evans

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Joseph Jones

Commented on March 16, 2011

Itís a great post, you really are a good writer! Iím so glad someone like you has the time, effort and dedication writing, for this kind of articleÖ Helpful, And Useful... Very nice post!

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