Responsive, Multi-Format Friendly & Vertical: Web Design Trends for 2013

Web Design Trends in 2013 At the start of every year there’s a mountain of posts confidently predicting what the trends in web design will be over the coming 12 months. Example? Our post from November 2010, predicting the trends for 2011. It was, in fact, written by me so forgive me if I blow my own trumpet a bit.

I predicted the following:

1) The death of Flash – largely true and it is incredibly rare to see a site feature this outdated, unsupported format. Score one for me.

2) More mobile sites and smartphone apps – every site we do now has to have at least a mobile version (though things have moved on even further now – more later). Some prefer an actual smartphone app (like this one we did for American Soda). Score two for me.

3) Photography – I predicted more and better use of photography. On eCommerce sites this proved true as products appeared larger and more imaginatively shot, but overall, I don’t believe this really happened like I expected though. Score ½ point for me?

4) Minimalism and big, bold typography – I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen a boom in this sort of design over the last couple of years so I’ll claim another score for me.

5) HTML5 / CSS3 – still not a web standard but that hasn’t stopped a lot of web design agencies using it regardless. And to great effect too. Score four and a half to me. That’s not a bad score really is it?

Makes sense then, that with such foresight I should turn my attention to 2013. Where’s web design going in the next 12 months? Well, actually it’s pretty easy to see. In researching this article I came across two trends that were pretty universal in everyone else’s predictions.

Responsive Web Design

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The first is responsive web design, which will eventually replace true mobile websites. EVERYONE thinks 2013 will be the year of responsive web design and rightly so.

2012 saw a lot of it, but now we’re looking at browsing the web on desktop (as ever), smartphones (now commonplace), tablets (of course) and in the very near future internet ready widescreen TVs and even car dashboards.

Websites (and apps) not built for this imminent future will find themselves struggling against the competition. Living rooms and boardrooms will make increasingly greater use of internet TV and drivers the world over will eventually opt for cars with built in internet and app connectivity. Designers need to bear this in mind.

Designing For Performance

The second common theme was ‘leaner, meaner’ designs focused on performance. As beautiful and responsive as your designs may be, they need to be light on their feet, quick to render and work on any device, anywhere. On 3G, 4G or wireless, there should be no discernible difference in load times or performance. A lot of work needs to be done in this area to ensure this happens and designers and developers will no doubt be tearing their hair out as they work together to create the most beautiful, leanest sites they can.

The market demands it, so it will have to happen. No doubt for the foreseeable future that will mean compromises on both sides, but we’re not really that far off making this a reality, are we?

Less common predictions on design trends for 2013 include:

High resolution designs
The rise of the retina display will see designs featuring higher and higher resolution imagery, custom designed typography and more. How this will fit with ‘leaner, meaner’ websites is yet to be seen…

Design geared to content
As Google continues to force website owners and online businesses to create meaningful, useful content in order to rank, the rise of content marketing will see designs created to display that content in the best possible manner. No longer will it be shunted to “/blog/” and forgotten about. It’ll be front and centre in homepages across the web. Want to see an example of fantastic content-based design? Check out The Verge – awesome.

Vertical scrolling
No matter what device you’re viewing a site on, vertical scrolling is so ingrained in us now that, despite the ‘swipe’ proving popular on smartphones and tablets, we expect to be able to scroll down, all the time. This isn’t news of course – but designing a site where the key elements scroll with you, no matter the device, is going to be key in 2013. The menu, shopping basket and social share buttons need to be always accessible. Anyone failing to design like that is going to frustrate a lot of people!

Page Load Time Button
The touchscreen is here to stay and oh, how annoying is it to have to tap several times just to get where or what you want? Therefore, designers will be shifting to bigger, bolder, easier to hit buttons within their designs. Either that or the companies they work for will be losing business to companies who DO have big, massive buttons.

So there you have it. My pretty damn obvious predictions for web design in 2013 and beyond. What do you reckon? Do I have it spot on or am I a fool? Of course, we’re always interested in your opinions too, so feel free to add some predictions of your own.

Ben Greenwood
  • Written by on 25th January 2013 at 08:41
  • “Ben Greenwood is an SEO & social media consultant at Fluid Creativity. Ben can regularly be found blogging about all things digital and is a self-confessed Twitter addict.”
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