A Prelude to Modern Web Design Styles
A Comprehensive Analysis & Showcase:
What is a ‘Modern Web Design style’?
How many design styles are there?
How should they be classified?
It seems that we have got an extensive subject on our hands. The above questions, and a few more, are the topic of our discussion in this introductory article. The detailed descriptions of different web styles that I have identified, together with the respective showcases, will be unveiled in the next articles on this page.
The advancement of technology in the IT industry -- particularly the web -- in the last decade has resulted in important changes in web design area. A website which was created in the beginning of the new millennium appears somehow lackluster today, thanks to the new techniques and concepts which have emerged recently. Today, the term web design conveys much more than just a visual aspect. Modern web design includes other features as well; such as usability, navigation logic, dynamism, and putting the content first. To put it short, it is simple, user friendly, functional and effective. The detailed characteristics are:
- Simplicity: Modern websites, regardless of the style applied, are basically intended to be simple and clear. The classic example is Minimalist web style.
- Content- & Data-oriented: To effectively address the desired target users, modern websites -- especially business sites -- have become more informative. They utilize for example graphs and other relevant comparative data instead of subjective information for presentation of the company.
- Print Inspired: Through taking inspiration from the media design elements, today’s websites takes good advantage of the printing industry to give a layout more content-oriented look. This is accomplished by using, among others, multiple column texts, headlines and quotations.
- Customized Typography: The use of so-called none standard fonts with the help of the tools like Typekit and Google Web Fonts has resulted in amazing typographical effects which either did not exist before or were not browser compatible.
- New Design Tools: The availability of gorgeous effects has offered new design alternatives, thanks to the emergence of tools like CSS3, HTML5 and other web-kit properties.
- Subdued colors: Modern web design relies on applying subtle and flat colors instead of saturated and flashy colors.
- Full-screen Imagery: Using big background images, while keeping the overall layout still simple, is another feature that belongs to modern time.
- Parallax Effect: Although Parallax technique is not a new one and can be traced back to old school video games, its emergence in web design has happened recently, to be exact around 2010. This design style is a scrolling technique which creates an illusion of depth and movement.
- Subtle Flash: I have added an adjective in front of this element in order to emphasize the descent use of this technique. I am against an extensive use of Flash which ultimately makes a site like an animated movie; without any clean content, navigation or textual information. Since its introduction in 1996, Flash (originally known as Future Splash Animator) has developed a lot. When applied correctly in a subtle way, Flash can be a great member of modern web design family. Otherwise, I find it difficult to regard it as a true web design style. I have discussed in more detail about this topic in a separate article.
- Responsive Design: Last but not least, is the emergence of responsive technique in modern web era. It is an answer (call it a response) to the development of the new devices such as tablets and smartphones. The new interfaces demand a solution regarding usability and adapting the layout to the viewing environment.
Consequently, we have got today a few more web styles than what we had some years ago. But how many web styles are there?
If we apply a criterion based on just the main elements of web design -- such as typography, image, color, background -- we can count them on the fingers of two hands. However, as we know, there are indeed a lot more design styles out there. Taking into account all the actual variations, combinations and the sub-categories which exist in contemporary web design, I have come up with 28 web style categories. This classification is not consistent with what other online sources have stated. I have reached this conclusion thanks to my observations attained through studying a lot of sources on the web while I was preparing writing these articles. Other sources have classified web design trends, at most, into 10 – 15 categories. So my analysis is in a sense unique! You may find some of the websites presented in my articles under another design category on other resources. In order to give a true picture of all existing web design styles, their similarities and differences, I have tried to look at the subject in a broader spectrum. I have sorted the current website designs into more specific style groups. These 28 categories, to the best of my knowledge, cover all the recognized styles used in today’s web design. I have discussed each design category in a separate article. Then, in a concluding article, I have summarized our discussions, and have in addition analysed the modern web’s future orientation.
For me, it has been a long journey, and I have really enjoyed every bit of it. I have visited thousands of sites to select my preferred web designs for showcases which come under each category as the representative websites. In doing so, I have tried to particularly select those websites which are most unique and representative for each respective style category. However, bear in mind that we can seldom find a web design layout that can be attributed to only one style trend. Almost all of websites, while having a dominant orientation toward a style, are actually a combination of two or more styles. I am going to regularly update the articles and showcases based on my further observations and studies, and hopefully your feedback. Above of all, I will ensure to substitute the dead links in the showcases. If you find out a dead link, that we are not yet aware of, we really appreciate to be informed. As we know, some websites may totally change their design style over a period of time. When we discover these changes, the required adjustments will be made. Enjoy reading these collections. There are interesting materials and amazing website designs out there in each article.