New year, new look, 2007 predictions 30 December, 2006 — Stuart Brown

Yet more design tweakery & speculation

Posted in Site-related, Design
Tagged with: , , ,

So, it happened again. I got bored with how Modern Life looked, so I thought a fresh new face was in order. I've ditched the two column layout in favour of a far simpler single column, and I've ditched all the gradients and Web 2.0 chrome in favour of a super-simple, delicious dichromatic design.

One cool feature is the use of a rotating stylesheet - 12 of them - so, in fact the colours of Modern Life will change every calendar month - from the January blues through springtime hues, hot summer colours to autumnal browns, and back to the drab plumage of winter. If nothing else, it should help keep the design fresher for longer.

I suppose it's traditional at this sort of time, after the recaps and retrospectives of last year, to look forward and have a stab at what might come to pass over the next 12 months. Here are my predictions for the year of 2007:

The Web 2.0 design backlash

Sure, everybody says it's a bubble - and they're probably right, but what about all the Web 2.0 shininess that's been ever so popular this year? You can expect a move away from glossy gradients, stupid names and 'beta' labels, if only on more progressive web sites. Simplicity should be the mantra for designers in 2007.

Fonts will continue to get larger as monitors do the same, and typography will be ever more important. Perhaps we'll see a satisfactory solution for embedding typefaces in web documents, better than the abortive Microsoft WEFT, and something more versatile (and CSS-based) in the stead of sIFR (which is an excellent hack, but still a hack).

In terms of new trends, it's hard to say what stylistic elements or design memes could be popular - perhaps the habit of having seasonal stylesheets will become more popular, if not that then perhaps regular design 'realignment' will come more to the fore.

My tips? Zesty, caustic colours Š la Web 2.0 are out - warmer, more balanced neutrals and stronger, darker colours - burgundies, blues, burnt oranges will be more popular. I'll also be backing one-column layouts, flexible widths, and horizontal stripes.

Old media steadily comes anew

Slowly but surely, the monolithic traditional media companies will latch onto newer media trends - editorial columns will gradually be dusted off and replaced with blogs, more and more magazines will go online, and RSS will inch its way further to popular recognition.

In particular, so-called 'online editions' of old media institutions will slowly realise that requiring registration (or even paid subscription!) to access articles on the web is a really good way of turning away potential readers.

YouTube et al get a business model, at last

It has to happen sooner or later. Hopefully 2007 will see YouTube, under the guidance of Google's online marketing expertise, start to forge more money-making relationships and find new and exciting ways of squeezing money out of illiterate teenagers and so-called 'vloggers' with bad haircuts and even worse webcams.

Blogging will get harder

Well, not harder per se - but as more and more people cotton onto this 'get blog, get famous, make money' mentality (old media included) hopefully we'll see greater competition and more rivalry for blogging recognition.

The existing blog networks will get stronger - perhaps the beginnings of early media monopolies - and as old media gets into blogging, the top end of the blogosphere will become more crowded. It's not blogging itself that will get harder - if nothing else it will get easier - but rather successful blogging that will become more difficult.

Web design will get easier

As more and more people ditch older browsers for more modern ones such as Firefox and Opera, and as the now-ancient Internet Explorer (V6) slowly lumbers to full adoption of its seventh version, life as a web designer will get considerably easier. With near complete support for fully transparent PNG files, CSS2, and all sorts of other new standards, perhaps at last we can ditch some of the hacks and workarounds that we've been borne with for ages?

We've yet to see what sort of impact IE7 will have on web design, but 2007 will see the beginnings of Microsoft's attempts to get back into the web browser game. If they listen to user's comments, stick closely to standards and keep the browser regularly updated they may be able to defend their dominant position. Hopefully we'll see IE8 in far less time than the 5 years it took to go from IE6 to 7.

The year of the giant killers?

Although I sincerely doubt any of the big sites will completely perish in the year to come, perhaps we'll see the signs of fresh new contenders to take on the established status quo? MySpace is a lumbering hulk which is home to all the cool kids, but could its size, (lack of) speed and the 2005 commercial buyout be the last nails in the coffin? Perhaps Bebo, the fastest rising search (according to Google's zeitgeist data) could take pole position, or perhaps a new startup could gain popularity?

There's been talk of the death of Digg from what seems to be the second that the site became popular - but can Digg maintain its meteoric rise in popularity and permeate popular society, or will a newcomer usurp its position?

And of course, the other giants in the web world: Will Google be shifted from search - or will interest YouTube fall in popularity against other popular video sharing sites (such as MetaCafe, Vimeo, or Revver). Will web-based RSS reader Bloglines maintain its leading share, or will a better approach to RSS rear its head?

Of course, in the above cases, nothing is certain - but we shall certainly see what the year ahead brings us. I suspect there will be a few surprises along the way.

Additionally: Hello 9rules!

Well, look what just popped up on Bloglines: Modern Life made the cut for inclusion in the 9rules network. Super cool. With a spot of luck 2007 should be a good year for posts, on Modern Life and in the Blogosphere in general.

Happy New Year all! Here's to a beautifully presented, well-written RSS-subscribable, and overall geek-friendly 2007!