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The 10 Hottest Web Design Trends to Watch for in 2013

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Trends are unavoidable and, often times, unexplainable. Nevertheless, many popular innovations represent a genuine need and have endured for many, many years, like cell phones, bendable plastic straws, and pants.

However, because of the far and wide reach of the internet, trends fly around unchecked, causing good ideas and trends to die or fade into obscurity (netbooks, MySpace), and truly awful trends (MIDI files on web pages, the term “swag,” various Kardashians) to go on indefinitely.

In the interest of encouraging good trends to flourish and warning you of questionable trends that should be squashed, we compiled a list of design trends that we think will become big news for 2013.

1. The Infinite Scroll

Traditionally, most web pages feature a display list of a finite number of items (articles, videos, items for retail) with the option of clicking on a “next page” icon. The infinite scroll (or autopagerize, as it’s sometimes called) allows the visitor to remain on the same page indefinitely while the site continuously feeds information to the page. Facebook began using it in early 2012 and voila! Google, YouTube, Netflix, Pinterest, Tumblr; the list goes on. Everybody’s doin’ it!

The infinite scroll has its champions and violent haters. Champions think it looks cooler, allows the user to browse without disengaging from the website and is excellent for mobile users. Haters find it irritating because if you must click away, you can’t return to where you left off; you have to scroll down, down, down and further down to get to the information you need. It can also look choppy, and it isn’t ideal for all applications.

2. Spherical Design

For some, there’s nothing cuter than a page with little round bubbles. Circles add an interesting aesthetic element to web sites, and they easily fit into a layout.

But the appropriateness of spherical design elements depends upon the nature of the brand (it’s hard to take a site with little bubbles seriously). Little circles of text probably won’t suit, say, the United States Marine Corps web page, but brands that want to speak to a young demographic in a hip, relaxed voice might appreciate it.

3. Illustrations

Websites that feature seriously detailed, cartoony illustrations integrated into site features are going to explode in 2013. They’re snappy; they hold your attention and kids love ‘em. Period.

4. CSS Transparency

Transparency is a beautiful web design feature when it’s applied with a light hand; it can give the look of a well laid-out brochure when it’s done tastefully. Now that it can be supported by most web browsers, we’ll probably be seeing it a great deal more in future, especially combined with the next trend:

5. Big Ol’ Photographs

When a photograph is well composed, light and beautiful, it can make a stunning background. Get an expert photographer for this one, though. Using a smartphone picture you took of yourself in your bathroom mirror just looks ridiculous.

6. Stable Heading Bars

Why the hell was this trend so slow to catch on? It offers consistent navigation support and reminds the user of exactly what site he or she is visiting at all times. Moreover, it looks great! Optimum user experience combined with beauty. ‘Nuff said.

7. Uniform Layouts

Provides consistent web design, no matter how the site is accessed, whether it is via smartphone, tablet or desktop computers. Gone are the days we visit a site on our phones only to see the layout fail, forcing us to hurl the phone across the room in frustration. Which leads to:

8. Vertical Layout

Typically, web designs relied on horizontal layouts; bands at the top of the screen that delineate the various page features. Today, with so many people accessing the web on their phones, vertical layout has become more practical, since moving the page from left to right on a small phone screen can be irritating.

9. Full Screen Typography

A bold design choice that lets the user know IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS what the website is about and WHAT THE BRAND HAS TO OFFER by hitting you over the head with HUGE TEXT. This trend is especially good for people with SEVERE MYOPIA.

10. Sliding Panels

Sliding panels are a clean and easy-to-read option for pages that use a lot of thumbnail images. Once clicked, larger images slide onto the screen below from right to left, in much the same way Tom Cruise slid into the frame in his socks in Risky Business (if you’re old enough to get that reference).

There you have it; trends, trends, trends galore – and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Some are great; others not so much, but we strive to stay on top of them all. We’re swag like that.