All posts tagged “hottest”

net mag reveals 2015’s hottest design tools

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We’re welcoming in the new year in style with our rundown of the top new web design tools that look set to revolutionise your workflow in 2015.  UXPin for creating and sharing wireframes, Macaw for code-free design, ‘Photoshop killer’ Affinity Designer… there’s a tool to take the pain out of for every design niggle.

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The hottest illustrations at Pick Me Up 2014

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This weekend Computer Arts headed over to London’s Somerset House to catch the fourth year of graphic arts festival Pick Me Up.  Packed with exclusive artwork from some of the most exciting established and up-and-coming names in design and illustration, Pick Me Up 2014 is more than just an exhibition. 

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Why is Telegram the hottest messaging app in the world?

When WhatsApp went down for two hours this weekend, nearly 5 million people signed up for messaging service Telegram. The app skyrocketed to the top of the App Store charts, and is now the top free app in 46 countries from Germany to Ecuador. In the US and several other countries, the app is no. 1 in the social networking category, ahead of Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, and others.

It’s not immediately clear why Telegram emerged as the alternative of choice following WhatsApp’s downtime. Users could have switched to Kik, or Facebook Messenger, or LINE — all of which have hundreds of millions of users. There’s seemingly something different about Telegram. Its rise isn’t only due to WhatsApp’s acquisition and subsequent…

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Web Design: 20 Hottest Trends To Watch Out For In 2014

After spending hours online at different websites, you tend to pick up discernable trends in design. Over the years I have written about changing trends, particularly in the field of website layouts and webapps. Advancing W3C specifications coupled with modern web browsers have opened the door to a new era of digital design.

In this article I want to share 20 growing trends I hope to see blossom over the course of 2014. Many have already been set in motion while others are just beginning to dawn. New trends are fun to check out and see how long they stick around. When browsing websites in 2014 keep your eyes peeled for any of these UI/UX trends in action.

1. Grid-Style Layouts

My first mainstream recognition of the grid design was on Pinterest. Social news feeds have always been in a streamlined fashion such as Twitter or Tumblr. Nowadays even many Facebook pages scatter timeline updates to appear like a grid.

This isn’t something you can force into any old website. There needs to be a purpose, the user experience always comes first. In situations using thumbnail images or text updates the grid layout condenses everything into an easy-to-read format. Everything is skimmable yet still coherent and it doesn’t require much space on the page.

jquery masonry open source project homepage

Open source JS libraries such as Masonry can do a lot of the hard work for you. Not many websites utilize this feature but the ones that do are often quite pleasant on the eyes.

2. Crafty Image Captions

In the past we covered some unique CSS3 image caption effects. Many websites use image galleries to showcase portfolio items, photographs, article thumbnails, etc. Using a text caption helps the visitor connect more information to the image. And with CSS3 you can rely on natural browser resources without any JavaScript effects.

Each website should have its own design to provide benefit to the reader. Another tutorial I enjoy from Codrops is figure numbering with CSS3. You can build caption-style labels which automatically append to the images (or figures) on each page.

3. Extended Form Elements

Most frontend developers are familiar with the purpose of jQuery. It helps you write smoother JavaScript code with fewer lines and much less clutter. Free open source jQuery plugins have taken on their own market — and they’re currently in high demand.

unheap jquery input forms plugin gallery

There is a particular enthusiasm surrounding jQuery form plugins which enhance the user experience. These effects could include floating labels, input validation, guided tooltips, almost anything you might imagine. Take a peek at the Unheap form gallery which catalogs open source jQuery plugins that you can download and test in new projects.

4. Deeply-Focused Landing Pages

I remember when the iOS App Store was launched and developers were clamoring to release their next great idea. Fast-forward some years and we have millions of apps for Android + iOS devices. Many of these applications even have their own companion website.

wip messenger iphone app website landing page

Software developers often purchase a domain name and launch a website as a marketing tool. This idea has since expanded to encapsulate mobile games, open source scripts, smartphone apps, really any digital product you can imagine. These landing pages are basically essential to encourage prospective customers into learning more about a product before buying.

5. HTML5 Video Players

I remember back in 2004 teaching myself basic ActionScript to create a custom video player for my website. It took months of work and the best playback solution was an FLV video. Thankfully times are quickly changing with HTML5 media and emerging JavaScript libraries.

Flash still has a purpose when necessary, but most web developers would agree that the future of Internet video is HTML5. Two scripts I would highly recommend are Video.js and MediaElement.js. The first is much simpler but also limited with basic functionality.

media element js video audio html5 library

Media Element provides some default skins and greater documentation for building your own player designs. You can also try building a music/audio player out of the same codes. Both scripts provide documentation along with an API and they’re both fantastic libraries. Keep these in mind when you need self-hosted videos on any future projects.

6. 3D Transition Effects

I’ve been finding a number of creative 3D animations in more websites over this past year. These are often built into the page for animated image galleries, navigation menus, and elements. The 3D effects can be created using jQuery although CSS3 has been catching up.

Naturally the animations aren’t fully supported in all browsers, and designers should be wary of using too many animations on one page. But if you like to try new things I’d highly recommend scouring the web for 3D animated code examples to play around with.

7. Flat Design Elements

How could I discuss web design trends without mentioning the widespread use of flat UI elements. CSS3 allowed designers to create much flatter buttons using natural box shadows, text shadows, or rounded corners. This flat UI pattern transcended into form inputs and even navigation menus.

But I feel there is more we can expect in the near future. Flat icon sets and GUI kits have been released for free on dozens of websites. In my guide to flat web design you can find heaps of free downloadable PSD/AI graphics. Metro-style layouts have also grown in popularity from Microsoft’s Windows OS and the Windows Mobile Phone.

8. Personal Portraits

Simple portfolio websites are often my favorite. You want to convey a bit about yourself, where you’ve been, and showcase your work samples. But to keep people truly interested you need to form a human connection. One of the best ways to accomplish this would be including a sample photograph of yourself somewhere on the page.

self portrait portfolio website andrea mann

Andrea Mann uses a photo which encapsulates much of the homepage. This is also blended into the darker background and recolored to shades of B&W. It looks fantastic, although you don’t need to use large background portraits on your website. Even a small photograph in your homepage or about page offers visitors a glimpse into who you are.

9. SVG Images & Icons

Vector-based graphics aren’t built around pixels, but lines and coordinates. Individual shapes are organized by mathematical equations and this allows you to stretch vectors to any size. SVG images are like vectors in the sense they can be manipulated easily without much quality loss.

The biggest problem is support for these images within all web browsers. Many people are still using older versions of Internet Explorer and other legacy titles. It’s a huge trend that will be sweeping the Internet in years to come (if it hasn’t already).

If you really want to get started might I recommend Codepen, an open community-driven IDE for developers to share their work online. You’d be surprised at the quality. Snap.svg is a JavaScript library devoted to support in multiple browsers with natural SVG images. This is a somewhat detailed topic but if you’re curious, it is worth delving into.

10. Unique Web Copy

One of the coolest new features in web development is the @font-face declaration. You can import font files hosted locally or externally on another server. These fonts are defined within CSS and you can write them into font-family properties to style your webpage text.

This has grown to include font-based icons where flexible icons are rendered on the page as text. These icons aren’t as well-designed in comparison to real graphics, which can incorporate a multitude of different colors. Yet simply having the ability to customize any font on the page is a powerful technique to help your website stand apart from the crowd.

11. Lazy-Loading Animations

When browsing ThemeForest one day I came across many WordPress themes which had transition effects applied onto elements, but they only animate when you scroll them into view. These elements behave similar to lazy-loading images except they’re already loaded in the page and hidden from sight.

Using JavaScript it’s easy to detect when the element(s) are in view, and then use CSS3 transitions or JavaScript to animate.

chart js javascript open source project homepage

If you scroll down the page on Chart.js you will see blocks of content + images begin to slowly fade into view. This trend probably doesn’t save on bandwidth unless you purposefully wait to load the content. It’s more about page aesthetics and providing a sleek interface for your visitors.

12. Customized Image Galleries

The growing integration of JavaScript and CSS has allowed developers to produce exceptional new projects. Image galleries are one trend that have been around for decades. Going into 2014 we might expect to see even greater solutions to dynamic carousels and image lightboxes.

elastic photo stack gallery plugin tutorial

To provide a small example, take a look at this recent gallery tutorial on Codrops which uses an elastic dragging effect to switch between photos. This is somewhat experimental but you can see how developers are willing to push the boundaries and see what’s possible.

If you like this concept why not take a peek at some jQuery gallery plugins? This would be a quicker strategy to begin learning and over time you may even construct your own gallery plugin.

13. Mega-Navigation Menus

All kinds of new fancy navigations have been tested and adopted in recent years. The mobile responsive web is a big piece to this, along with the HTML5/CSS3 specifications. I have noticed a small yet growing trend of mega navigation menus which expand to hold large blocks of content and links.

mashable dropdown mega navigation screenshot preview

These are most common on websites that publish lots of unique content in high volumes. Online magazines or web forums immediately come to mind. It does take up a bit of space on the page, but it also gives readers a broader choice to navigate your site.

I stumbled onto a related article on Smashing Magazine talking all about navigation menus for mega-sites. The concepts are similar and the examples provided may be a good starting point for anyone interested in this trend.

14. Expanding Search Bars

Looking back I’m not completely sure when this concept picked up steam. But there is a growing popularity for building semi-hidden or expanding search bars into your layout. The user clicks a magnifying glass icon or clicks into the form itself, and then it expands wider to allow for more text input.

codrops tutorial expanding search bar input

Codrops wrote an outstanding tutorial about this topic and it’s a great read for any developer. Primarily the hidden search field is used to save room on the page. You might even hide the form at the very top and toggle it up/down like a navigation menu. This technique is prominent with responsive layouts, but even larger & more completed designs are incorporating these adaptable search fields.

15. Featured Detail Lists

Recently I put together a design showcase of featured detail lists to be found on website homepages. These are list-oriented details explaining information about a company or product. Oftentimes the details are coupled with some icons to help illustrate the points in a more concise manner.

I’ve noticed these detail lists have become a staple for many homepages. A collection of information about any product or service provides visitors a reason to stick around. It gives some insight towards what you provide to customers and how it all works. Icons are like the frosting to catch people’s attention when scrolling by quickly.

16. Mobile-First Design

A book called Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski gave me this idea some time ago. When browsing a website it’s not easily possible to differentiate how the design process worked out. But the idea is to first mock-up how your website should look as a responsive layout on mobile screens. Eliminate all the excess fluff and keep only the bare essentials.

From this standpoint it’s much easier to scale up your design to wider screens. Navigation menus become wider, content is lengthened along with a possible sidebar. Mobile-first design places a higher priority on the mobile experience which then becomes a baseline for the entire layout. I love the concept, and I hope designers will try implementing this to see how it can affect workflow and the final outcome.

17. HTML5 Canvas

There is a lot to be said about the canvas element and it’s quite a topic of study. Using JavaScript, it’s possible to create games or drawing applications right inside HTML5. I’ve even seen the canvas element used to collect signatures with the mouse.

canvas css3 glowing rotating loader animation

The example above is from a simple Codepen entry. Someone posted a glossy loading circle onto Dribbble and this pen is a replication using the canvas element. Another example is this small horizontal loading bar built on HTML5 canvas and JavaScript. The possibilities are growing rapidly and personally I’m excited to see what canvas will be like 2-3 years down the road.

18. Pixel Sprites & Browser Games

Much like classic video players, browser games used to be exclusively produced in Adobe Flash. But JavaScript has gotten a foothold into the community and many developers are happy to release open source codes for these types of projects.

pixel sprite html5 browser game keyboard codepen

A little while back I wrote an article detailing pixel-centric websites that could also use animation. These designs aren’t common but they do catch your attention. It takes a lot of design talent to create such exquisite pixel artwork. So building your own in-browser sprite game would be an even larger challenge.

One of the best resources for getting started can be found on HTML5 Game Engine. The site lists many free JavaScript libraries for creating your own browser games. There is a lot to learn about the process, but thankfully you can find hundreds of tutorials online within Google.

19. Quick User Registration

There are an increasing number of brand new startups and web applications that allow for user registration. In fact, many services require you to signup before you can start using the website. Long detailed registration forms are tremendously off-putting in this fast-paced world.

Try to keep all registration forms quick and to the point. Many newer webapps include the signup form right on their homepage to capture as many visitors as possible. This happens when a new visitor is curious about your product, sees the form only has 2-4 fields and decides to go for it. You may be shocked at how well this strategy works for capturing new users.

20. CSS3 Animated Keyframes

Since the early millenium JavaScript has been the primary choice for browser animation. Only recently has CSS3 become adopted into the mainstream where developers can build their own animation effects using @keyframe.

css3 keyframe animation codepen natural open source demo

There is another way to animate using the transition property, although this only has one state for animation whereas keyframes behave much like Adobe Flash. You setup a frame percentage value from 0% – 100% and define properties which change over time. The latest CSS3 spec provides enough tools for you to animate elements in practically any style you like.


Smaller interface concepts aren’t something we think about everyday. But it is these smaller accents that bring life into a clever website layout. I hope this article can shed light onto a handful of design trends we’ll prominently notice in future projects. Also if you have ideas for 2014 design trends I may have forgotten, feel free to share with us in the comments area below.

The 10 hottest web design trends of 2013

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Forget luxury clothes and designer couture: the real battle ground for fashion statements is on the web. Unlike high-end real-world goods, however, the web is democratised, allowing individual designers to seize on a trend and create their own interpretation.

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The hottest video production trends for 2014

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Video has quickly become the communications medium of choice. It’s easy to consume, and people love to share it on social media. For filmmakers and videographers, equipment and software are more advanced, less expensive, and easier to use. With all this interest, some cool trends are emerging in the way videos are shot and produced. Here are a few of our favorites to dominate in 2014.

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6 Hottest Portable Gaming Devices of 2013

Within a short time, the future of gaming has shifted from the arcade to the TV then straight into our hands. While devices keep coming from the big names in gaming, many indie developers and designers now have the opportunity to bring their ideas to fruition through crowdfunding.

Razer Switchblade

iPad games may be a hit with casual gamers young and old, however hardcore and professional gamers are spoilt for choice with a wider selection of smaller, lighter yet more powerful devices to play their favorite games on these days. We are going to look at 7 of the latest and greatest portable gaming devices and consoles that 2013 has to offer.


The NVIDIA SHIELD is a revolutionary product that redefines how games can be played. The technology enables you to stream games from your PC to the device, over Wi-Fi. Via cloud gaming, users can now play high-performance PC games even though they are not supported on portable devices (yet).

Nvidia Shield

The controller and built-in speakers on the NVIDIA SHIELD give gamers the full gaming experience, and you don’t have to be stuck in front of your PC to experience it. SHIELD also supports Android games as the 720p 5-inch touchscreen acts like a tablet, and just like a tablet, it has 16GB of storage, supports MicroSD cards and can be charged with a Micro USB port. [$ 299]

2. Razer Edge Pro

Gamers would know about Razer, a gaming peripheral company that has influenced the scene for a long time. They recently started making mobile devices, still keeping hardcore gamers as their target audience. The Razer Edge Pro is a 10.1-inch Windows 8 tablet that can support most of today’s high-performance PC games.

Razer Edge Pro

It is powered with an Intel i7 Processor, NVIDIA 640M Graphics, 8GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB Solid State Drive. Because of its crazy hardware however, it’s a bit heavy (over 900g or 2lbs), can get quite hot and will set you back about a grand. The gamepad pictured above is also sold separately. [$ 1299.99 + $ 249.99]

3. Razer Blade Pro

Not a fan of tablet gaming? Well, opt for the Razer Blade Pro gaming laptop instead. The unique selling point here is the Switchblade interface that replaces the traditional numpad. The Switchblade interface is a fully customizable LCD Track panel which can dislay game info, plus 10 buttons that can be programmed with the gamer’s favorite hotkeys.

Razer Blade Pro

The aluminium body laptop houses a lot of powerful hardware: i7 Quad Core Processor, NVIDIA 765M Graphics, 8GB RAM, 128/256/512GB Solid State Drive, front facing webcam, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth together with a backlit keyboard for gaming in the dark. [$ 2299 – $ 2799]

4. GameStick

Here is a successful Kickstarter project that can be plugged into the HDMI port of your TV for a gaming session. The games you’ll find in this USB flash-drive-like device are Android based. A single GameStick can support up to 4 controllers, connected via Bluetooth, giving you a multiplayer experience with your friends.


Games are stored in its built-in 8GB storage with the option of adding a 32GB Micro SD card for even more games. It’s also very portable as the HDMI-stick fits into the Bluetooth controller, so you can bring it wherever you go, with ease. [$ 79.99]

5. Wikipad

Although the Wikipad is a tablet, one thing sets it apart from other tablets. Out of the box, it comes with a controller dock where the 7-inch tablet sits in. Its NVIDIA Tegra 3 mobile processor delivers powerful performance and beautiful graphics.


It also comes with 16GB of storage, a front camera 1280×800 display and Android 4.1. It’s not very pricey for a decent tablet, but if you think about it, you’re really paying for a full-featured controller to play all your Android games on. [$ 249.99]

6. PISTON Console

It’s mind boggling how this 4-inch console can have a 3.2 GHz AMD Processor, Radeon 7000-series Graphics, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB Solid State Drive. To add to that, the PISTON console can also support up to 3 monitors.

Xi3 Piston

The idea of this box is that it works like a (very) mini-PC that supports operating systems like Windows, Linux and a few others. Its size makes it very portable, allowing you to plug it into a hotel TV for busy people who still want to game on the go. Expect a release at the end of 2013. Controllers not included. [$ 999]

Make This Happen!

This one is a concept design worth mentioning (because we really, really want to see it happen).

The Razer Switchblade is a hybrid of a laptop and handheld gaming device. Instead of using a traditional keyboard, the Razer Switchblade will have fully customizable buttons which can be programmed by the player. Each button can also show its own icon as it’s a small LCD.

Razer Switchblade

The idea is for gamers to be able to play any PC game without the need of a full-sized keyboard since the keyboard has too many buttons anyways. Here’s hoping that the developers are still working on getting this commercialized.

10 Hottest ‘Top-To-Toe’ Wearable Gadgets

The thing with electronic gadgets is that it is a display of your taste, your style and even your personality – from the decal you choose to put your Mac or iPad Mini, the favorite geeky T-shirt you wear to class or work, or even your choice of tablets. But now we can take this up a notch by putting on our favorite wearable gadgets that don’t just look good but works great as well.

Google Smartwatch

We’ve compiled a series of functional and fashionable items that have the appearance of everyday apparel camouflaging simple but powerful gadgetry. Some of them are already in the open market, while others are still in the concept stages, awaiting to make its debut to excited fans.

1. Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses

Similar to the notion first brought to the stage by Google Glasses, the Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses was recently featured in CES 2013. The glasses pairs with your Android smartphone via Bluetooth and comes packed with Android 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi and 4GB of storage.

Vuzix M100

Launch apps from your smartphone and watch everything displayed on the 800×400 pixel screen right before your very eyes (literally!). Enter the world of augmented reality with this cool wearable gadget.

2. Interactive T-Shirts

Geeky T-shirts aren’t exactly new, but put in some electronics, a few AA batteries, turn down the lights and you can actually have an equalizer dancing on your chest, reacting to the sounds around you.

Interactive Shirts

Another kind of interactive shirt is one that makes sound – the electronic drum kit shirt has 7 spots that generate sounds when you push down on them. T-shirts like these are cheap to come by as they do not need high tech wizardry, just an electronic board that you have to remove before handwashing these T-shirts.

3. Rusty’s Wired Series

Say goodbye to tangled earphones that take up space in your pocket. Rusty has come up with a hoody with earphones that double as the elastic strings of the hood. To plug your music device in, in one of the side pockets, where you can house your music device, there is a jack to plug in your tunes.

Rusty Wired Series

The earphones are machine washable (hence, waterproof – a very important feature for wearable gadgets) so you can skip the dreadful task of removing them and putting them back in. The Rusty clothing line has a lot of selections for men and women at various prices.

4. Swarovski USB Necklace

Of the many out-of-the-ordinary flash drives, this one gives off a positive, almost classy vibe. Part of a line of crystal-studded USB drives, this 4GB USB necklace by Swarovski is proof that tech can also be sophisticated and elegant at the same time.

USB Necklace

At a price tag of $ 75.00, the necklace is also available in Violet and Light Rose. This two-part heart-shaped necklace is the perfect Valentine’s day gift for the tech girl in your life.

5. USB Cufflinks

Similar to the USB necklace, these cufflinks give a professional look to an already clean and formal look. Each cufflink carries 2 GB worth of storage, and is also available in gold and gunmetal.

USB Cufflinks

To personalize this even further, there is an engraving service where you can put a monogram of up to 8 characters (pick from a range of fonts) on your cufflinks for only $ 8.00. Finally, a flash drive you can put your name on, at $ 100.00 a pair.

6. Nike+ FuelBand

The Nike+ FuelBand tracks your daily exercise and the calories burnt while doing those activities. For every activity, the LED will light up and let you know your progress. You can set these goals, view detailed progress, and unlock achievements to stay motivated, or share it with your social networks via its iPhone app.

Nike Fuelband

The Nike+ FuelBand was also featured in our geeky gifts for him last Christmas together with the Jawbone UP which has similar features shown in our geeky gifts for her. If one of your new year resolutions is to maintain a healthly lifestyle, a health monitoring wristband like can really help.

7. I’m Watch

The I’m Watch is a smartwatch that has its own market of apps. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and once connected, it does what your smartphone does. You can receive notifications, read emails or messages, and make or receive calls.

I'm Watch

The watch is touchscreen and can act as a hands-free device with its built-in microphone. It also has an app store, and programmers are able to build new apps for its unique ecosystem. Available in seven colors, it is on the market at $ 400 a pop.

8. Pebble Watch For Smartphones

Not a fan of smart glasses? Then, go for a smart watch instead. The Pebble is a watch that is paired with your iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth. You can then receive push notifications such as Facebook messages and alerts for calls, messages and email. The magic behind the Pebble is that it is highly customizable and is great for use in the outdoors.

Pebble Smarthwatch

The E-paper technology ensures that you don’t have to fuss with the brightness of the display, and while you jog with it, you can toggle your music, track your distance and running time, and still receive alerts. To use it, you need to download the Pebble app into your smartphone but if you are feeling adventurous, there is an SDK for this watch, available at their blog.

9. iWallet

Whether it is because you don’t like having to change wallets once they are worn down, or if you don’t like the feel of leather on your skin, iWallet is a game-changer you’d want to take a look at. With a strong, hard casing, biometric access, and bluetooth technology to act as a deterrent against thieves, the iWallet is out to prove that it takes your security very seriously.


If the iWallet or your phone is too far apart from one another (more than 10-15 ft), your phone will sound, warning you of a pickpocket’s foiled attempt or if you have misplaced either of these important personal effects. Prices are in the $ 459 to $ 599 range and the wallets are available in carbon fibre and aluminium shell.

10. Nike Hyperdunk+

Athletes always want to improve themselves, and with this pair of Nike Hyperdunk+, basketball players can monitor their speed, jump height and their overall game performance. There are sensors on the shoe that transmit information to your smartphone via bluetooth.

Nike Hyperdunk

You can even record videos of the play, then watch the videos with the matching display on screen. The videos and your stats can be shared on social media, or can be used to monitor your progress.

Bonus: 2 More Conceptual Gadgets

Because we live in an era with many creative and innovative people, concepts can sometimes come to life in a very short time. Here are 2 bonus conceptual wearable gadgets that we could probably see in the near future.

1. Bluetooth Gloves

The problem with wearing gloves while riding a superbike or skiing is that it’s impossible to reach for your smartphone with the thick outerwear. BEARTek was a Kickstarter campaign that had a great idea: a glove that communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth. It has 6 touch points, that you can use to answer phone calls, and even basic music controls.

Bluetooth Gloves

2. Google Smartwatch

Google has it all, the operating system, the browser, the digital wallet and now, maybe, a SmartWatch. Here’s a concept by Adrian Maciburko of the rumored Google Smartwatch which features a touchscreen interface that allows y ou to swipe between time, calendar, weather info and your Google+. With Google behind this, the possibilities are endless and only time will tell what Google could pack into this futuristic timepiece.

Google Smartwatch

Interview: Tom Peters and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: We talk inspiration, heritage and hate mail with the designer of the hottest new American sports car

Interview: Tom Peters and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Chevrolet announced the all new 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray to grand applause and a few raised eyebrows at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Just the seventh iteration since the iconic car’s inception in 1953, the redesign is all about moving the model, and the company, forward. Rather than playing…

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Cool Hunting

Web Design: 20 Hottest Trends To Watch Out For in 2013

All throughout 2012 there has been an enormous surge in new web design trends. Some of you may remember my earlier post on web design trends going into 2012. Now we can see many of these ideas have come to fruition, and even adopted further increasing levels of novelty. In this article I would like to delve into 20 more design trends for the new 2013 year.

The design influence is merely a reflection of our culture and expectations for user interfaces. Ideally these trends represent favorable ideas in the web design community. However designers will always have their own opinions when it comes to design terms, so take these ideas with a grain of salt.

If you are interested, keep your eyes peeled for examples of these trends and techniques.

1. Responsive Layouts

This topic was my first point in the 2012 trend article, however I feel that responsive web design has been changing to ultimately come to a threshold where layouts are designed to match all forms of digital media. The idea is to support all devices from laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and anything released in the future.

(Image Source: Chris Jennings)

You could think of this trend more like a uniform web design where the goal is to have a single set of codes which run perfectly on all environments. Responsive websites are often thought to cater towards mobile browsers, but that isn’t the sole purpose.

You can have a responsive website which also adds brilliant illustrations and graphics into the layout when the browser window is larger.

The big idea here is to think about website design as a single canvas which is dynamic and fluid by nature. CSS3 media queries allow developers to customize layouts based on limited or expanded screen real estate. Use this to your advantage and see how other designers are using it as well!

2. Retina Support

Along with responsive support for website layouts I have also seen a dramatic rise in people building for retina devices. Apple first engineered this idea with the iPhone 4 and has since applied this screen display onto their other devices, including the iPad and some MacBooks.

Retina.js JavaScript library open source

Retina screens are basically twice as dense as any average LCD. So they are the same number of physical pixels, but digitally twice as many pixels can be fitted into the same physical space.

This means pixel-perfect web designers supporting retina devices will need to create two sets of First you need to sample your image at double the resolution, then save a “standard” version at half the size. The larger image will be scaled down to the standard resolution and will look very crisp on retina screens.

One of my favorite tools for responsive web design is retina.js. This is a JavaScript library for automatically displaying @2x retina copies of whenever your user is browsing on a retina device.

Although this won’t detect CSS background, it is still the most handy resource as opposed to coding everything in media queries.

3. Fixed Header Bars

Using the CSS position: fixed; property is a great way to staple a header bar onto your website. As visitors scroll down your page this will offer constant support for navigation and a trip back to the home page. This trend has been around for a while but now we are seeing this in full force.

Trilulilu fixed top navigation bar website social network

Fixed headers are so interesting because they can work on practically any website. This includes social networks, blogs, and even design studios or private companies. The design is very trendy and looks great paired with most layouts. But aside from the aesthetics, this bar also provides an exceptional user experience without needing to look very far to navigate the website.

4. Large Photo Backgrounds

Photographers or even fans of photography will definitely enjoy this design trend. I have seen countless showcases discussing the ideas of big oversized photography in the background. It’s an excellent way to capture your visitor’s attention and it can look great when done properly.

(Image Source:

I am often fond of big photographs since they can be pleasing on the eyes. When blended into your layout, this design technique can give your website a major edge in marketing. On this topic I always consider the ever popular design portfolio of Kerem Suer. This unique background photo behaves as custom branding for everybody who lands on his website.

Kerem Suer freelance design portfolio oversized photo background

5. CSS Transparency

The new CSS3 properties have allowed for opacity edits on any webpage element. This means you have control to generate transparency in any modern web browser – no Photoshop required! This trend of web design transparency was recently discussed on Codrops with some very enlivening talking points.

Squarespace transparent website layout css design

One excellent example is on the Squarespace Blog where the central wrapper is given a background: transparent property. Typically this can be used to generate some other background from repeating, or to setup the background using internal elements.

Another interesting design technique for manipulating transparency is through rgba() color syntax. When designing in CSS you have the option of specifying colors using Red, Green, Blue, and Alpha-Transparency values. So using the syntax rgba(255,255,255,0.6) would generate the color white at only 60% opacity. This is certainly a design trend we can expect continuing into 2013 and beyond.

6. Minimalist Landing Pages

Anybody who has spent some time researching markets will understand that selling on the Internet is just plain smart. You have access to a large consumer base from anywhere in the world. Additionally you can sell products which are not even physical, such as videos or creative resources.

PictoPro website icons buy set vectors

Creating a landing page online is all about capturing new leads for your product or service. New trends are following the idea of minimalism: keep everything simple and focus on your core product.

This is exemplified on the PictoPro webpage which offers a beautiful resource for cheap icons. The page is fairly crafty using vector icons as a background effect. But all the text is easy to read and it’s basically a one-click checkout process. You cannot get much simpler than that.

7. Digital QR Codes

The abundance of mobile smartphones has led to a surge of QR Code apps. This stands for Quick Response Code and has developed from the older UPC barcodes. You will find these tagged everywhere from restaurants to event venues and automobile sales lots.

Keith Cakes Bakery contact QR code snapshot

But very recently I have found a couple of websites with these codes built right into the design. This isn’t something you would normally consider since they are often found in print. But QR codes could become trendy as data transmission becomes quicker over time. You can see a brilliant example of this technique on Keith Cakes contact page.

8. Social Media Badges

Marketing is one of the ultimate determining factors in a website’s success or failure. Social media and viral marketing are exploding in many different websites. Digg used to reign popular in this domain but has since conceded to rivals like Reddit. But these are not the only two popular resources for sharing stories online.

(Image Source: WebTreatsETC)

You can check practically any social community for sharing badges and will likely find a great solution. You can position these badges pinned to blog posts and articles anywhere in your layout. These are still used actively by readers and fans who want to share content quickly on places like Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn.

Below I have put together a small list of social media badges you can try in your own website layouts.

9. Detailed Illustrations

Newer design trends are all about catching and holding one’s attention. I feel that illustrations perform this task brilliantly. The problem is finding a designer who can make such impeccable works of art, or even teaching yourself.

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Illustrations can be used in many various ways to bring about different moods in your website. Look around the Internet, and you will find many different website galleries and showcases focusing on digital illustrations. You can see these artistic works eventually blend into its website branding almost perfectly. MailChimp is probably the most definitive example with its trademark chimp mail carrier.

10. Infinite Scrolling

Infinite scroll loading has been around for at least a few years. But this technique hadn’t really hit mainstream until this year and I’m sure it will continue into 2013.

Pinterest infinite scrolling pins homepage

Pinterest has adopted this loading technique for their layout and it works beautifully. You can search anything and the results page will continually load as you scroll down. Pagination is basically a non-issue and doesn’t even work as a detriment into the user experience. Talk about designing for simplicity!

But another great example and possibly my favorite example is on Tumblr. You can blog and reblog photos from other people you follow which all appear on your Dashboard. So after logging into your account all the most recent posts will scroll infinitely down the page.

This is an excellent technique which does not work on every layout, but for the right websites this can look and behave phenomenally.

11. Homepage Feature Tours

Sliding image presentations and demo videos are both very common with new products on the web. Landing pages and startups often try to entice potential users with these informational goodies. And they can often work very well, if you know how to construct something that looks good on a webpage.

MediaFire direct download files tour webpage layout

Looking back over 2012 I would say my favorite example of this trend is on MediaFire’s homepage. The entire top portion of the page rotates between a series of slides. They each explain what you can do on MediaFire and how their features compare with other websites.

What helps this demonstration stand out is also their use of big graphics and icons. This is another trend which will not work on all websites, only for certain products you can draw in loads of attention.

12. Sliding Webpage Panels

Dynamic websites used to be very popular when Flash and ActionScript were all the rage. Now, dynamic effects have moved into the realm of JavaScript/jQuery, and this has in turn affected the way designers build websites. Sliding panels is just one technique I happen to really enjoy and would expect to see more in 2013.

Captain Dash website layout sliding panels webpage

Right off the bat you may not think CaptainDash is any special website. But as you click through the navigation you will learn that each page is loaded in succession pushing from left-to-right. Dynamic effects such as these do not always bode well for mobile users.

But if you can handle them with responsive design techniques or an alternate mobile site then this is a really cool effect worth trying out.

13. Mobile Navigation Toggle

When speaking of responsive design one of the most difficult questions is how to build a solid navigation. You want to give your readers direct access to all your important links, without flooding the page making it unreadable. It is also a good idea to keep your responsive navigation hidden away until it’s needed.

Treehouse Blog responsive mobile navigation menu links

Enter this beautiful design trend of mobile navigation toggle menus. The Treehouse Blog is merely one example of this technique which looks brilliant on your smartphone. And even in your web browser! But there are dozens of websites and design studios who have adopted this trend for their own responsive layouts.

What I like most about the toggled navigation is that you can design menus in so many various forms. You can have links drop down from the top, or slide down, or push content over from the left or right side. Designers have so many options to play with and there is plenty of time for UI experiments.

14. Fullscreen Typography

Earlier I mentioned using big oversized photographs in the background of website layouts. This trend can be extended to focus on typography as well: designing your webpage text so it fills the entirety of the browser. Some users may find this annoying. But this is not often the case if the layout is fitted perfectly for super-large text.

Alex Pierce website typography oversized text

Alex Pierce has a great website layout which does focus deeply on typography. You can see this includes rich text effects using CSS3 properties. Additionally the website is very easy to navigate, and many of the other page elements appear oversized as well.

Big text with unique font styles can stand out just as much as oversized photography. And I am sure this will see more design critiques moving into the new year.

15. APIs and Open Source

Open source software has been around for decades and has been changing the web since its inception. But over the course of 2012 I have noticed more open source software pertaining to webpage widgets, layouts, and dynamic effects. Typically we could also be talking about free website templates, layouts, or CMS software such as WordPress.

social networking open source programming code development

Open APIs and resources like Github allow designers to not only prototype layouts, but also animations and effects on the page. jQuery has a practically uncountable number of plugins for free download to be found all over the Web.

And I am honestly not expecting the amount of open source projects to slow down anytime soon. This truly is the greatest era to be getting started and advancing your knowledge in the field of creating websites.

16. Deep Box Shadows

I discussed CSS3 box shadows in our previous post written for 2012, and this trend has proven to be very accurate. In fact, I now almost always expect to see box shadows infused with elements in modern web designs. The effects look amazing and they rarely detract from the aesthetics except when overused.

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I believe the problems that designers had to face years ago stemmed from box shadows being too difficult to implement. Back a few years, this effect would require some type of JavaScript or direct background created in Photoshop. Now box shadows can be generated with a few lines in CSS.

I would look out for new box shadow techniques all throughout 2013. I think the trend is already deeply ingrained into the design community, now it is more about who can be the most creative!

17. CSS3 Animations

The CSS3 transition property and all the related browser prefixes offers CSS dynamic effects just like JavaScript. Designers can now animate effects on the page based on different CSS properties. I have seen a lot of nice hover effects and form input fields using these transitions the right way.

Codrops tutorial css3 animation transition effects

Another excellent and very inspiring example comes from a CSS alerts tutorial on Codrops. Notice how you can setup various times and settings for the animations.

This is definitely a trend which offers some promise in the coming months and years with lots of room to advance. I am confident that newer web designers will give rise to booming animations all created without the use of scripting.

18. Vertical Navigation

I was not a big fan of this layout style when I first started noticing different websites adopting this trend. However over this past year I have seen more designers creating elegant solutions with the vertical rhythm still intact. And when done properly, vertical website layouts can be affluent with content and design taste.

Riot Industries vertical navigation menu links website layout

The portfolio on Riot Industries is a great example for newer web designers. Check out how the navigation links work and how the portfolio entries are dynamic on hover effects. Also the border textures really show a dividing line between the left and right columns.

This textured effect is apparent in other vertical layouts as well, such as the CSS gallery Design Bombs.

DesignBombs css website layout gallery vertical links

19. Single-Page Web Design

Single page design is a big topic and covered under many different categories. Obviously there have been single-page websites since the creation of the World Wide Web. But over the recent years we have seen this trend evolve to sport a more natural user experience.

Cage App website single page layout design

I think the website design for Cage App is possibly one great example of many trends listed in this article. They are utilizing a single-page layout brilliantly with content split up by horizontal containers. But you will also notice the very top of the page features a blurred background photo effect.

Plus as you scroll down the page, the navigation bar actually stays fixed at the top of your window. Incorporating other popular design trends into a single-page layout is one solution for drawing attention from visitors and making one captivating website design.

20. Circular Design Elements

The trend of circles within website layouts is something newer and has been given a lot of attention recently. Designers like circles because they are clean, neat, and generally fit into any layout block. You can build patterns and even fix your page elements into circular designs (eg. user avatars, share buttons, post dates, etc).

Lucia Soto freelance design portfolio circular website designs

The portfolio of Lucia Soto is basically one terrific example of circular web design. The website is built dynamically so you are panning horizontally to different segments in the page. You will notice some cute vector artwork dotted along the sidelines as well. Web designers crave these extra tidbits in page layouts because they ooze uniqueness.

You can find a similar example on the homepage for Site Optimizer which uses circular page elements as informative selling points for their services.

Final Thoughts

User interface design is one of the most complex topics when building digital products. This rings especially true for website layouts, trying to match navigations and content styles for a successful user experience. These design trends aim to point designers in the right direction.

I hope you may consider some of these ideas and think about how they do affect modern day websites. You can find examples of these emerging trends, in smaller businesses to global companies and all other websites in-between. If you are thinking ahead of the curve and want to share some insight on design trends in 2013, just drop a comment in our post discussion area.