A Review of Top Design Trends for 2014

Here's my take on some of the trends going on right now. Some are good. Others, not so much.

And since nobody asked for my opinion, I'll be happy to give it.

Responsive Web Design

Like it or not, responsive web design is here to stay. Personally though, I can't think of a reason not to like it.

Responsive layouts solve most of the problems designers previously faced and brings the web to mobile devices.

There are also WordPress themes already available that are responsive-ready. And with 5-click hosting setups appearing, I'm not looking for this one to go away any time soon.

Minimalism

I've been a minimalist ever since running a web server on a 28.8 modem. That lean-and-mean mentality absolutely dominated my life for several years, so I'm glad to see this one making an appearance.

Minimalism won't do much to slow down those sites that are "busy" by nature though, but it will give my poor eyeballs a break for a while, at least.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Just don't go overboard here. People still need to be able to find your content. If it's hidden behind a garbage can or something, let somebody know.

I'll be clicking the Back button if I don't find what I'm looking for pretty quick, and so will everybody else.

Typography

With the advent of @font-face and Google fonts, typography has really taken off and I'm on board!

I love it that we're finally able to be aesthetic as well as informative. Call it the perfectionist in me.

My only gripe is that it involves two more round-trips to fetch those (usually largish) font files. So again, don't get carried away here. Stick to the bare minimum number of fonts you really need.

Flat UI

Everybody seems to be following the lead given by iOS7 on this one. Great!.. I think.

When we're talking about viewers on mobile devices, those 2 or 3 pixel-widths of screen real estate do add up. And it does take more processor power to render the effects.

So, in general, I think this one is a win-win for users and designers alike.

On the other hand, I'd hate to see every web site out there take this to the extreme and put us mere desktop users on the chopping block.

The jury's still out on this one.

One-Page

I'm mixed on this one. Part of my user experience is gained by being able to find what I'm looking for quickly. I'm not sure how stacking an entire site onto one page is going to further that quest.

Video

No question here. Video absolutely trumps text, or even still images, when it comes to conveying information.

What I do have a problem with though are sites that insist on putting their videos on a dropdown box on their home page.

About the time you get a sentence or two into their content - BAM - that beast drops down and starts blaring some hideous music.

Maybe they're going for the gee-whiz factor. (More like Holy Crap!) I don't know. The first time I experienced that, it was a little annoying.

Now it just grates on me knowing I have to go back to that site again. Really annoying.

Fixed, Compact, Slide Out, or No Sidebars

I'm mixed on this one too. I understand designers are reclaiming screen space doing this, and I understand they're doing it to cater to the mobile world and further the cause for responsiveness.

No problem. In general, I don't have a problem with the sideways popouts. Sort of cool, really.

It's those blasted top and bottom ones I hate. The ones you can click away are just a tad annoying. The fixed bars though, I really dislike. You can't get rid of them, and they screw up my scrolling experience.

I mean, when I get to the bottom of the screen and click the side scrollbar to move up a page, the next text I'm looking for should be at the top.

Well, it is really, but it's under the flipping menubar. Two more seconds of my life I'll never get back.

Focus on Mobile

No problem on this one. I like being able to get to stuff on my phone as much as the next guy. Just don't go overboard and forget about desktop users.

I can't swipe my monitor, so don't make me start using arrow keys or something equally stupid to navigate your site.

Accessible, Quality Content

This one sort of goes without saying. A solid headline sets the hook, and quality content reels 'em in.

Just don't forget the accessible part here. Hiding content behind some fartsy icon in the name of minimalism or responsiveness won't help your cause.

Hero Areas

The large hero areas, to borrow a term from the print world, are probably a good thing. They usually look pretty good (as long as they're not too bandwidth intensive), and at least they're killing off last years sliders.

And while I'm on that subject, if you aren't already using sliders, don't. Your site probably isn't so abuzz with news you need to keep flashing it in my face every 1.5 seconds.

Single Color

I like the one- and two-color schemes. Again, it appeals to the minimalist in me.

People are on your site for your content and for what you can do for them, so unless you're in the business of numbing their minds with all manner of flashing and blinking things, keep it simple.

Manipulated Images

This one goes hand in hand with the hero areas. Once you put that huge hero image up top, where do you put your site's name and tagline?

Well, right on top of that huge image, front and center, of course. It makes sense, and doing anything else would just ruin the whole effect.

So there you have it. My take on some of the best and worst things going on this year.

What's next year hold? We can only wait and see.