Web Design for the Modern World

When the first message was sent across the Internet in 1969, a million of possibilities were instantly created. However, if the people of this time were to take out their crystal balls and look into the future, they probably would be surprised to see what their invention has become.

As quickly as the Internet does change, it is likely that we will no longer recognize it if we were to look into the future either. For this reason, it is important for those who depend on web design as a part of their business strategy to make some predictions about the future.

Changes in the way we Design

Even though we’ve just kicked off a new year, the future is definitely looking great in the world of web design. Plenty of changes and advancements are on the horizon that will prove to make everyone’s job a little easier.

Throughout the year, we will probably hear more and more about how less is ultimately more. This is probably the first thing you will want to focus on when looking at your website design. Over the past few years, this meant developing a flat design. However, this year, we can expect an entirely new concept, called material design.

Material design was born on the premise of flat design, but takes things one step further. With this design, it is the intent to create a living and breathing space for readers to enjoy. One they can utilize all of their senses for and that will challenge their imagination. This is definitely something we will begin to see more of in the coming months and years.

It’s Getting Real

Just from 2014 to 2015, the number of mobile-only internet users jumped by over 300 million users. This is a trend that isn’t expected to change any time soon. In fact, as easy as it is to be mobile in today’s world, we should probably expect this number to drastically increase over the coming years.

What does this mean for web designers? Quite a bit actually. For starters, it is critical to begin thinking on a smaller scale. Screen sizes are getting smaller because information is now being viewed on the small screens of smartphones. Because of this, information you put on your website needs to easily translate from a PC to a mobile phone and still be easy to read.

Because we are so mobile, we expect our data and information to be mobile as well. To help accommodate these types of things, developers have been quick to come up with ways to give readers access to up-to-the-second information. This has been successfully accomplished with the creation of apps that offer real-time news and sports information.

With these types of apps, web designers must rethink how they deliver some certain types of events and news stories. But, these types of changes could be very positive for businesses. For example, instead of allowing a news outlet to cover an event or business, the business itself would be able to offer real-time information to their followers. In the end, this is something that will help build trust among your fans.

These are just a few of the things we should expect to see in the way of changes to web design during 2016. However, only time will tell how many changes will actually occur this year and what trends we will be looking at in the years to come.

One thing is certain about web design; it is always evolving and changing along with the world around it. Web designers must always stay on their game if they want to ensure they are always on the winning end of the changes caused by trends related to the internet.

10 of the Best Banner Mockups for 2016

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Banners. They’re everywhere — hanging along street lamps, outside your nephew’s school, and broadcasting specials at your favorite falafel place. They’re a critical tool in the advertising world, and likely something you’ll run into at some point with a client.

Let’s take a look at some of the best banner mockups to make 2016 awesome!

  1. Free PSD Fully Editable Mall Banner Mockup PSD — Want a mockup that looks realistic, but doesn’t detract from your design? Nothing will beat this download! While the background is a mall setting that lets you and your client view your hard work in a realistic setting, the focus is entirely on the banner design, letting your hard work shine through, while still letting your client envision what their placement options are.
  2. Trade Show Booth Mockup PSD — This wildly sleek and contemporary mockup option gives you a multitude of viewing capabilities for your end product. The show booth genre is a great one to look at, as it’s going to fo us entirely on your design product and showing it off in the best possible light — and this mockup does just that!
  3. City Lamp Post Banners Mockups — Clients who want to view their banner products on a lampost for every driver and walking civilian to see will fawn over these mockups! This package offers a number of different angles, sizes, and positioning options for your design. A series of background images lets you choose the sky colors that will most complement your final design, letting you show off your work in the best possible light.
  4. Banner and Poster Mockup — A wildly versatile mockup that gives you a crazy amount of creative freedom. We love this mockup package because of how real it feels — your end result will look like something straight from a  professional photo shoot because that’s where these mockup images started. Put your designs in a busy urban setting populated with people, architecture, and bright cityscapes — any client will love these mockups!
  5. Free Street Banner and Booth Mockup For Advertisement — This sleek mockup lets you put your design right in the middle of a contemporary urban setting. Clients can easily view their end product in a street-side boxed-in banner on a dark and slick sidewalk, a great way to illuminate the design you’ve worked so hard on.
  6. Trade Exhibition Mockup — A great mockup for those who want to really blow up their design and show off what they’ve created to their clients. This mockup lets you alter both the banner image — which appears as a larger-than-life banner — as well as the background image, letting you place your design in any setting you desire.
  7. Outdoor Advertising Mockups — Sometimes, clients need to see their mockups in the most tangible, real-world setting possible. This is likely to be the best mockup set for that client! Offering you four different camera angles, this mockup set lets you put your design in a bus terminal, two sidewalk ads, and a billboard. What better way to let your design shine and show off to your client than a real-world application?
  8. Rollup with Stand Vector Mockup Template — Want to give your client a clean and simple vector image? This mockup is for you! Offering 6 different setups for your design, this option lets you lay out your banner on a stand or free-float it for your client’s viewing pleasure.
  9. Indoor Advertising Poster Mockup — A perfect mockup for those who want to put their design into a real-world setting! This mockup lets your client see your work and their product in a viewable mall area, giving them context for what they’re getting when they work with you.
  10. Rollup Mockup — Clean and simple, we love that this mockup gives you 9 different angles to put your banners on. A trio option lets you break your design into a stylish and chic tryptic, or combine three different designs that work together for your client.

Whether you chose to put together a more traditional looking banner mockup for your client or throw together something completely contemporary and unique, we know they’ll be impressed by any one of these stellar mockups!

Master Illustrator with the Best 10 Tutorials Out There

New Year, New Resolutions! We love to see when people decide to jump onto amazing design tools like Illustrator and Photoshop — but where to begin? Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, these are 10 of the best Illustrator tutorials on the web today.

Here’s how we like to look at them — if you’re already a seasoned Illustrator user, take each of these 10 tutorials as a challenge to reproduce them as best as possible (or to do better)! And if you’re new to the game? Go through each one step by step, and take in how to manipulate every tool, every stroke, and every feature that the incredibly powerful Illustrator has to offer you. We promise you won’t regret it!

  1. Create Detailed Spa Stones and Flowers in Adobe Illustrator — This tutorial is great for covering a few basic ideas on texture and color with natural objects. If you’re looking for a few good methods on creating vector stones, flowers, and leaves, then this tutorial will serve you well!

  2. How To Create a Colorful Vector Landscape Illustration — This is one of those great tutorials that takes something that looks more complicated than it actually is, then breaks it down into totally manageable steps. Gradients will soon become one of the design elements you find yourself putting in many of your finished products!

  3. Experiment With Color in Adobe Illustrator to Create an Abstract Rose Illustration — Don’t let the finished product intimidate you! While this may seem like a design project that is out of reach for beginners, it’s one that you should absolutely consider undertaking. This tour in texture, color, and shape is really a rudimentary exploration of how to best use Illustrator to master your brightest and most intense design productions.
  4. How To Create Geometric Stripy Line Art in Illustrator — More abstract and geometric designs will likely become a part of your design repertoire. Learning to create unique pieces that are aesthetically pleasing and which still manage to evoke an emotional response (all without text or obvious imagery) is a powerful design tool. Get your toes wet with this tutorial!
  5. Tips for Guilloche Pattern Vectors in Under an Hour  A Guilloche pattern or technique is most often seen in printed currency to help make counterfeiting efforts more difficult. It can also be seen in some kinds of pottery work, like ceramic or enamel. Needless to say, it’s a highly intricate pattern that takes a little skill and a lot of attention to master — get on it!
  6. How To Create Outstanding Modern Infographics — It doesn’t look like infographics are likely to go anywhere anytime soon. Companies are comfortable using them in annual reports that they send to consumers, small business owners are creating them to tell stories about their products, and designers everywhere are being faced with the challenge of coming up with unique ways of showing off those layers of information.
  7. How to Create an Identity Package in Illustrator — Whether you use an identity package to hone and present your own design identity, or to help a client visualize their upcoming design elements, this is a great way to do it. Illustrator isn’t often thought of as the strongest tool for the job, but their multiple art boards make it easy to see how each piece (letterhead, magnets, business cards) fit together and mesh — or clash.
  8. Learn to Create a Variety of Script Lettering — At some point, you’ll get bored with font options. You’ll want to make something new. Something different. Something that says ME! A script lettering is often the way that designers go, as it can fit fluidly into a formal or more contemporary informal design space. Get your teeth cut with this tutorial, and don’t look back.
  9. Create a Variety of 3D Lettering Effects for Poster Design — Clients are going to forever be asking for ways to make their designs “pop.” A 3D lettering effect is a powerful and amazingly simple way to do just that — with the bonus of working for just about any client, and any project, and any end-game.
  10. How To Create a Cubist Style Logo Design in Illustrator — This is a tutorial that you can really grow with. After mastering the few basic stylings and techniques for creating the cubist style, you can find all sort of new applications for this hot and chic texture.

Regardless of which tutorials you chose, you can rest assured that you’ll be mastering the foundations of Illustrator in no time. After a few of these great tutorial creations, you’ll be more than ready to venture into the world of freely designing your own stellar images. Happy drafting!

Tips for Web Development in 2016

Over the years, the way web development has changed drastically. Looking towards the future, we can expect for this trend to continue. For this reason, developing new tactics for the new year is the best way to ensure your website will be effective throughout the year and into the future.

Here are a few tips to get your started:

Tip 1: Focus on Mobile

The need for mobility has been on the rise for several years now. But, during 2016, this is expected to become even more important. When looking at your web development tools for the coming year, make sure you make sure your site is mobile ready and accessible. Spend time developing the mobile aspect of your website. Many sites are built with different options for their visitors so that everything is easily readable regardless of the device the site is being pulled up on.

Tip 2: Look at Search Engine Changes

 

One trend that is interesting is the fact that many search engines are developing ways to answer direct questions. When asked a question, the search engine will answer the question without actually pulling up a specific website. Instead, it will pull up the question among the results of the search, which helps searchers avoid the need to visit a specific website to search for the answer. What this means for web developers is that if you have a great amount of content on your site that is designated for answering questions, you may need to rethink your approach. Creating content that cannot be answered quickly is the best option to go with when you are creating your content.

Tip 3: Consider a Flat Design

Your visitors should enjoy staying on your site because it is easy to navigate and read. The content should be valuable and correlate with the products and services you have to offer. To help with this, make sure you are avoiding a lot of clutter on your pages. Instead, keep a simple design that won’t distract from what you are offering.

One item that has been shown to improve this issue is a flat design. This is something that is becoming more and more popular each day. While it was not created by Microsoft, it was definitely made more popular by the design of Windows 8, which is built around a flat design concept. With this idea, focus is placed on making the site easier to use. It has been shown that this design helps readers to find what they need faster than ever before.

Tip 4: Increased use of Video

The constant need to be on the move has decreased the amount of attention span that we have. Because of this, customers are looking for content that is easy and fast to digest. One way many web developers are creating this type of content is through the use of video. Video is something that helps put faces behind the services and products that are being offered, which can make the message even more powerful.

While developing your videos, keep in mind that there will also be some pretty significant changes to the screens that people are viewing them on. You should expect them to grow and shrink at the same time. This is because of the decreased prices of technology, which allows businesses and home-users to purchase bigger screens for their computers and for the increased popularity of smaller devices, like the Apple Watch. Producing quality videos that can easily be viewed, regardless of the device, is now more important than ever for these reasons.

These are some of the biggest trends you can expect to see surface during 2016. While some of them have already been on the rise, you can expect them all to become even more popular in the coming year. Putting these tips into action during 2016 is a great way to make sure your website stays strong and powerful now and in the future.

10 Best Web Design Concepts for Digital Users

If you’ve scrolled through apps, searched menus or swapped out colors on animated items before sending them to your shopping cart, then you’ve interacted with some of the ten best web design concepts experienced by early 21st century digital users. Here they are, in list form for your convenience:

1. Empty State

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This design concept has increased in importance and innovation. Most designers know that an app, or a site, should never dead-end. Users must be redirected or educated in an entertaining manner to either return to the main page or to learn how to utilize the app. Whether the empty state contains an image and a directive, or an explanation and an option, users must feel engaged and not abandoned.

For inspiration on designing your own empty space, emptystat.es is a great source.

2. Interactive

Folks over at The Next Web noted that interactive sites would see a rise in popularity throughout 2015. Their definition of interaction involved storytelling and narrative devices coupled with user interaction and graphics.

See Seattle’s Space Needle site for an example of merging a graphic journey with an informative story.

3. Minimalism

Also mentioned by The Next Web is the rise of minimalism.  Minimalist design has the practical function of speed but also a riveting aesthetic function. Click here for an example.

The site is spacious and incredibly functional. Users know exactly what they need from the site or app and exactly how to fulfill their needs. For a large portion of users, ease and accessibility are high priority.

4. Parallax Scrolling

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Users are becoming more sophisticated and their expectations are increasing. Parallax scrolling is familiar for anyone who has ever gamed. Incorporating this three-dimensional design into retail sites has become a way to capture user attention.

However, The Boat best showcases how dramatic this design can be for both sophisticated and non-sophisticated users.

5. Long Page

The Boat site also features single page long scrolling, another design trend that was in use throughout the past year. Technology has finally caught up with user preferences and mobile devices have become highly scrollable. This limits the need for short pages with lots of links.

Bounty Beverage proves how exciting a long scroll can be.

6. Customized Photography

High quality photos incorporated into the overall site design is a way to personalize the experience and connect with users. One site that received attention from Hubspot is Four Rivers Smokehouse. Warning: This will make you very hungry. Unless you are vegan, in which case maybe you shouldn’t look.

7. Animation

As you can see from several of the sites above, animation is also an essential design element. Why have a static customized photo when you can animate it?

This trend is everywhere, from the most utilitarian sites, like Paypal, to far more exciting web pages like this.

National Geographic’s Eat: The Story of Food won the 2015 Webby for web site animation and graphics. Not only does the site feature animation but it is also features a long-scrolling, narrative/journey based web design.

8. Responsive

When a website is interactive it invites the user to engage with it. When a website is responsive, the site responds to the user’s needs. This is most often seen in ecommerce and retail sites. A user/customer visits the site with a goal in mind. They want to purchase an item and need to quickly find the tools they need to make the purchase with as little frustration as possible.

Responsive design responds to the device the user is holding and optimizes that user’s experience. Menus fold out from margins making mobile purchases easy. Accordian menus cascade options for the user with limited screen space. These same design features are found on desktops. However, sometimes it can become a bit over done. Here’s an example.

9. Best of Everything Design

The site listed above combined pretty much everything: fold-out menus, animation, interaction, story-telling but it was missing minimalism.

More and more frequently designers are showing off all of their skills but this kind of overkill deadens the user experience. An example of minimal, nuanced design goes to Dropbox. If only those sketches had a bit of movement.

10. AMP HTML

Google’s latest open-source initiative is AMP HTML, a language used to create fast-responding mobile web pages. By eliminating bloat, AMP HTML provides mobile users with quick downloads and aims to include users with limited internet access.

Pinterest has begun employing AMP HTML and TechCrunch reports that the New York Times and other established sites will follow suit.