In this short series, we highlight the trends that are likely to impact on your marketing during 2014, beginning here with what's new on the web.
In a rare example of both Microsoft and Apple being completely on board with what the other company was doing, both technology juggernauts adopted flat designs in their latest operating system releases. Those tiles in Windows 8 are becoming more influential than you might have first thought, with flat design cropping up all over the place, as brands look to simplify their imagery. There'll be lots more of this coming in throughout the year as designers continue to move away from reflections, shadows and transparencies.
One page/long page sites and sticky headers
As the world goes more mobile, one page or long page sites are becoming more popular. The reason for this is that users love scrolling through them on tablets, rather than clicking to load individual pages. Where previously it might have made sense to put 'About' and 'Products' on a separate page, now users find it easier to scroll through a firm's entire story on a single page. Where this isn't the case, longer pages of related content will also feature. Because users will get further and further away from a page's header, more sites will employ 'sticky' headers, which stay at the top of the page no matter where the user scrolls to.
Typography goes wild
Typography-led design isn't only growing because more web fonts are now supported, it's also growing as a design choice, with typography becoming an integral part of how websites look and how brands express themselves. From a practical point of view, typography can reduce a reliance on images; either custom or stock, which can by turns either be expensive or look cheap. Plenty of small-to-medium sites now use typography-based design and it will only take one of the real big boys to make the same move to see this spread wider.
Lots of pixels
Increasing global internet speeds and the increasing prevalence of large, hi-resolution monitors and screens - including Apple's retina displays - mean that the use of hi-pixel images is on the increase. There's now no excuse for a suspect low resolution shot!
Lots of content blocks
Social sites like Pinterest and Google+ have a design that's seeping out into other areas of the web; lots of 'blocks' of content, arranged in a manner that facilitates easy and casual browsing. It's a trend again also influenced by the Windows 8 design and our relatively new found love of apps.
Parrallax scrolling is when different items on a web page scroll by at different speeds, giving the effect that some are in the background. It's often used to overlay content on top of a background image, or on 'story'-based sites, to aid users browsing through. More and more sites will use this, some of them needlessly.
The more of these we see, the better they seem to get, though this Google one, detailing the history of search, is still one of our favourites. Unlike regular infographics, which were designed as a graphical way of relaying data, these are often used to tell a story (such as Google's), or even a mixture of a story and some data (such as... erm... Google's). These will increase as word on them spreads and more demand for them is created.
Content Management Systems will continue to get better and more varied as the web does and users will continue to demand them as they seek to take control of their own sites. Wordpress, upon which most of our sites are built, is at the head of this at the moment but there are others out there and they will all continue to improve.