1. Responsive Web Design
The proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices have made responsive web design more prominent than ever, and that trend will continue and intensify in 2012. Different mediums require flexible layouts and flexible images, which is what responsive web design is all about. With this type of design, scalable websites and images are par for the course. By the end of the year, the majority of websites will probably feature this design to some degree.
2. Image Gallery Slideshows
There's no question that content is king, but bold, eye-catching images can work wonders when it comes to attracting and retaining a visitor's interest in the first place. Image gallery slideshows were once reserved for online portfolios, but that's quickly changing. Website designers have learned that people respond favorably to this feature, so you can expect to see a lot more of it over the next 12 months. Whether they are used to make a news story more informative or to expand upon the topic of a blog post, image gallery slideshows are worthwhile additions to just about any site.
3. Social Media Integration
The line between social networking sites and traditional sites will blur even more in 2012. In fact, rumors are afloat that Facebook could roll out a website template that would make it easy for users to create their own sites within the social networking universe. To stay ahead of the game, it's already critical for a site to integrate social media to some degree. That will become truer than ever in 2012, and you can expect to see a lot more integration this year.
4. Minimalist Designs
Clean, simple, streamlined designs are already the gold standard for today's most popular websites, but achieving this ideal isn't easy. That being said, this trend will continue to be wildly popular in 2012. Simple techniques for achieving minimalist website designs are making it easier for just about anyone to create crisp, sleek, stylish websites. As always, a focus on organization and user experience will continue to influence the designs of today's best websites.
5. Custom Fonts
When in doubt, it never hurts to use a tried-and-true font for a site. These days, however, creating a strong, unique brand is more critical than ever. As a result, many companies are turning to custom fonts. It's become quite easy to create gorgeous custom fonts in CSS styles, so this trend is really picking up steam in 2012. Custom fonts have been mainstays of many WordPress sites for some time, but you can expect to see them popping up across the Internet over the next year.
Infographics really came into their own in 2011, but they will become more integral parts of popular websites in 2012. More and more web designers are becoming savvy at creating these popular features, so you can expect to see them show up in a number of unexpected places. Graphical representations of information have been popular since the dawn of man, but pie charts and bar graphs are being pushed aside in favor of bright, boldly designed infographics. It's easy to see why they are so popular, and they will become even more refined in 2012.
7. Banners and Ribbons
If you think website banners went the way of the dodo at the turn of the millennium, think again. While banners and ribbons largely faded from prominence in recent years, they will experience a renaissance of sorts in 2012. Stylish ribbons are popping up in corners and being used as badges throughout the Internet. Unlike the banners and ribbons of yesteryear, these elements are sleek, streamlined and actually add value to a website's appearance. In some cases, they are interactive too.
8. Exaggerated Hyperlinks
For a while there, the trend was to keep hyperlinks and anchor text as low-key as possible. That is already starting to change, and it will become even less true in 2012. Subtle, streamlined hyperlinks will slowly be replaced with dramatically exaggerated ones. Through the use of things like custom fonts, rounded corners and drop shadows, website designers and developers will throw the spotlight on hyperlinks in a bold and exciting way. There is a balance that needs to be struck when using exaggerated hyperlinks, of course. They shouldn't be used at the expense of getting across a clear, straightforward message. Instead, they should be used to accentuate and enhance a message. This should happen a lot more frequently in 2012.
When you think of the future, sleek, rounded lines and gorgeous curves usually spring to mind. It's not surprising, then, that circles are enjoying a surge in popularity. In 2012, you can expect to see circles incorporated into the overall design of many websites. They can be used for everything from icons to links, and they can imbue standard graphics with flair. The boxy, neatly structured designs of many sites will be swapped for more fluid, rounded, circle-dominated designs in 2012. The possibilities are truly limitless, so it will be interesting to see what this circular trend will do.
10. Oversized Icons
Oversized icons are mainstays of the Mac OS X look. With the ever-increasing ubiquity of iPhones, iPods, iPads and other Apple products, it's only natural that these dramatic icons are crossing over to appear on sites across the Internet. When designed with care, these types of icons can add a lot of life and personality to a website. Of course, developers must take care to avoid blatantly ripping off existing designs. That shouldn't prove to be too difficult, though, and it will be interesting to see the ways in which oversized icons are used in 2012.
11. Fewer Animations
In the early days of the Internet, animations represented the cutting edge of website design. That couldn't be further from the truth today. Sites that feature dozens of animations are generally viewed with scorn. This dovetails nicely with the overall trending towards simple, minimalist website design that's been happening for some time. Animations had largely been eliminated in 2011, but you'll see even fewer of them in 2012. The ones you do see won't typically involve Flash. Instead, they will be rendered through HTML5, jQuery or CSS3.
12. A Focus on Content and Behavior
In order to be successful in 2012, web designers will have to be able to double as front-end developers too. That's because aesthetics are just one part of the big picture when it comes to website design in 2012. Content is critical, and that trend is going to become stronger than ever over the next 12 months. Furthermore, users must be able to interact with sites in easy and intuitive ways. This will all have to be taken into account when designing a successful website in 2012.
As you can see, many changes are afoot in the world of web design in 2012. As always, however, web design trends in 2012 will include everything from completely new features to the revamping and reintroduction of old techniques. At any rate, you'll never get bored when checking out new web design trends in 2012.