As we play taps for 2012, let’s take a look at what developers and designers got into over the past 12 months, aesthetically speaking.
Web (and tablet and smartphone) design this year was more than ever characterized by relatively new technological capabilities. Advances on the dev side made tricks and conventions on the design side simpler, faster, or just plain possible.
Also, in many ways, mobile design, and especially tablet design, had a huge influence over web design. We started seeing more touch interface-friendly navigation, even in situations where touch navigation was unlikely. Which, as you’ll see, drove us freakin’ bonkers.
But hey, at least Comic Sans and Flash sites are on their way out, right?
Most of these trends got their start in years past, but we feel they came into their own in 2012. We’ve organized them into a few groups on a love-to-hate scale. If you disagree with our admittedly subjective analyses, go right ahead and tell us what you think in the comments section. And come on, this is web design; if you don’t disagree with some of it, you might be dead.
We see this as a subtrend of the magazine aesthetic (see below), but boy, do we ever love how huge images are getting these days. They look great as page backgrounds, in lightboxes, or as full-page masterpieces in a tablet app. If you’re letting pictures go way outside the envelope, we appreciate what you’re doing and hope you’ll keep up the good work.
The Metro grid
Microsofties can call it whatever they want, but we know a Metro mosaic when we see one. For the longest time, we were mimicking Apple and iPhone design. Now it’s Windows’ turn to shine. The flat tiles in vibrant colors, the mosaic of constantly refreshing content, and the slick sans serifs were all the rage this year, whether seen on a Windows phone or on a designery knock-off page.
The print-mag aesthetic
More than ever, the web is starting to feel a lot like the glossy magazines of (what is quickly becoming) another era. Swipe-friendly navigation lets readers flip languidly or rapidly through content. Full-bleed photos take over the page, and elegant serif web font families let running text remain readable.
And speaking of web fonts, with more than 600 specimens in Google’s directory, headlines content have seen a massive upgrade as well. With sexy Didones, aggressive slabs, and retro scripts, typography is finally entering its online heyday. (Want more proof? Check out our list of the best mobile and web fonts of 2012, now with 900 percent more out-of-the-box web compatibility!)