What Will Web Design Look Like In 2006?
The Continuation of “Big”
While some people are hoping the Fisher Price look of websites will be going out the window, designers like Garrett Dimon tend to disagree. Garrett defines Big as:
- Big fonts.
- Big logos
- Big form fields
- Big buttons
In 2005, several websites sported the Big look. One of those sites was Flock. Before their public launch of their Mozilla-based Flock browser, they displayed gigantic fonts and input fields. Although I liked the novelty of it, it was mostly obnoxious.
My prediction is that Big is probably here to stay — at least for a while. Big will end up taking usable forms, and not so usable forms. A usable form of Big would focus on highlighting page elements like article titles, and enlarging a simple input form. An obnoxious form would focus on nothing — it would be a design that is big for the sake of being big. You’ll know it when you see it, and you will surely run away from it.
I like content Tags about as much as I like skin tags, but they’re coming and I can’t stop them. Tags can have multiple purposes — it all depends on how they’re implemented. For example, delicious uses Tags mainly for bookmarking and calculating popularity, while Flickr uses them as a way for people to categorize and find images.
I have no doubt that Tags will be one of the buzz words for 2006. They will make it into the mainstream, and many websites will start adding them haphazardly in an effort to stay current. Although I like the Tag implementation on del.icio.us and Flickr, I predict that most implementations will be lame and will only add clutter to websites.
Push For Semantics
Web designers and users are all but over fancy Flash-based websites. Flash-based websites are not only the antithesis to usability, accessibility and standards, they’re also traffic killers (because search engines can’t or won’t index the content of swf files). Even in the midst of broadband, the new web (sometimes referred to as Web 2.0) will be thin, usable, standards-based, and semantically structured.
The biggest push for semantics will come indirectly from Google. Google has made public their webmaster guidelines for optimizing websites for their search engine. Following their guidelines will result in semantically structured websites that allow Google to better understand web pages, and will result in better SERPs. Web designers who continue to ignore these standards will only be hurting their clients and themselves.
AJAX and AJAX-like features will grow exponentially this year. Many libraries, like script.aculo.us will mature with more features, better stability and improved browser compatibility. Similar to Tags, they will end up being used for the sake of using them, instead of using them only where needed.
Digg offers a good example of the proper use of AJAX. They use it sparingly for key features that can really benefit from AJAX. AJAX and AJAX-like features are also something Sitening will be using a lot more of in 2006. Our first major use of AJAX-like features in 2005 was for our cre824 24 Hour Web Design Contest entry. Our entry, Your Planet, included interactive features that allowed users to drag and drop objects, and slide a lever to display different content.
Each year brings interesting new technologies, and new ways to use old technologies. I’m particularly excited about seeing more websites that will be semantically structured, and use Big and AJAX features sparingly and wisely. As always, there will be a few big hits, and many bombs. 2006 should be a fun year for web design.