I just read this great round-up of design trends for web sites for 2009 on Smashing Magazine.
If it's at all spot on, I am thrilled to pieces. It's a reversal of so many of the things web designers tend to do that I just can't stand and have never understood..
Let me count the ways:
Before: Small, cramped and cluttered.
What's in: Big, clean and vibrant. Smashing Mag predicts a trend towards larger search boxes (yea! for us over-40 somethings), clean white backgrounds (hallelujah!) and a resurgence of retro artwork, pictures with texture and even a water color look.
What's in this year: Dynamic tabs, Navigation buttons that "speak" and my favorite: more icons to visually explain where you're going.
Before: Oh puh-leeze again!
What's in this year: Could 2009 be the year web designers figure out attribution and credibility go hand-in-hand. I hate going to a site and having to dig like a beagle to find out who authors and funds the site, along with archives of previous of content. Incoming this year: author icons with postings for starters. The other trend I find promising is that instead of having a "tag cloud" of search topics (which is a foofy way of describing the lazy mish mash of category words bunched up in the corner); more sites are shifting towards a "tag index". Simply put; alphabetizing those categories making it easier to find things. Somewhere in heaven my sixth grade librarian is smiling down on us all now.
Tips for all time:
1. Display copy in a "F" pattern going across the page. The farther you scroll down the more narrow the column. People read less across the page as they scroll (assuming they scroll, which most don't).
2. Avoid weird fonts. They are likely hard to read and everyone's browser sees them differently. Play it safe and stick to the nice, clean, universal fonts like Arial, Georgia, Times, etc.
3. Light fonts + dark or busy backgrounds = headache.
4. Date and time stamp please. It's a basic thing to make you look like you update the site at least once in awhile. Date your postings, as well.
5. Who are you? Who's authoring the content? Whose site is it? Who's your sponsor? Where are you located (at least a country - town, state, e-mail address and P.O. Box preferred).
6. No more than five or six navigation tabs.
7. When redesigning your site; think evolve and not overhaul. You want to hang on to enough of the old look that returning visitors can see that you're still the same company, blog, whatever you are. If you change out to a completely different site with all new colors, navigation, bells and whistles; people won't realize it's still you.