Trends in web design: food for the creative brain

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theEword designer Stephen Dixon looks at some prevalent trends from 2009 and discusses what they mean for the creative process...

Trends stimulate designers' brains and drive the field forwardDesign trends represent powerful forces of creative nature, capable of driving designers to push the envelope further and further. Thanks to this, we have the wonderful, expansive nature of web 2.0 – a facilitation of design and functionality that puts users at its core.

It's always great to experiment with the latest trends because new methods of design, development and graphical approach will often lead you to fresh ideas, which in turn can spark the evolution of trends that others will follow, incorporate and expand upon.

Keeping the client in mind

While keeping up with the latest commercial web design trends may be enjoyable, it's vital that we keep in mind that not all trends are useful and relevant. You may have a fantastic idea for a website design that completely contrasts against what the client wants, which, to all intents and purposes, makes it useless. It's up to designers to follow the lead set out by the brief and create a relevant, beautiful and functional design that works well for the client and looks great on your agency's portfolio.

While this process may seem to limit the evolution of design, it actually does the complete opposite. It produces better, user-centric designs which will then be echoed through the industry and become useful contributions. These can be expanded upon, causing a new wave of interesting and relevant trends.

A snippet of the trends of 2009

Commercial website design in 2009

This year's trends are bountiful - from the use of glossy icons, buttons, backgrounds and a whole slew of other design aspects right through to the more matte, pastel and gradient-themed designs.

The growing use of CSS3

There's been a big push on the use of CSS3 in front-end web development which makes a lot of web trends possible and less time-consuming when in the build process despite the fact that CSS3 isn't fully supported by all browsers.

Big typography and focal introductory paragraphs

Large font is becoming commonplace on many websites. This trend not only looks nice, but it benefits both the user (especially those with a visual impairment) and those that run the website by clearly displaying their corporate message.

With the top-left of a website's home page being the most important section, an introductory paragraph is the best way to quickly transmit the most important message you wish to give to your visitors. Understandably for a company at the forefront of design in what has been dubbed 'SEO Manchester', theEword's website incorporates these two trends.

With three months left until the year's end it'll be interesting to look back and see how the web has evolved in the past 12 months and how we can improve in the next year – restarting the cycle and further contributing to the endless pool of creativity.