By Alex Walker

Web Design 2005: Have crystal ball will travel

By Alex Walker

Well, as the year draws to a close it’s often a time of review, along with predictions of the coming years trends.

While this is sometimes akin to shaving your head, painting a red target on it and handing someone a rubber mallet it (people have uncanny memories when you’re wrong) it’s never less than a great conversation starter.

Forty Media have put together an impressive list of themes, looks, layouts, colors, typography, coding and content management influences for the year ahead.

Most tellingly (IMHO) they are using one the techniques they nominate as one of the big movers of 2005 — Scalable Inman Flash Replacement or sIFR .

Look at the heading and subheadings. Smooth, finely sanded edges and elegant but non-standard fonts. Understated but very classy (disable javascript to see what the text would look like for non-flash browsers).

Lightbulbs (accompanied by that lilting ‘ting!’ sound) will appear over the heads of designers over the coming months as they, as a group, realize that one of the holy tenets of web design – limited font choices – has been fractured, if not quite smashed.

I’m tipping a new wave of font torturing not witnessed since the glory days of David Carson.

Fun times ahead!

  • So, what were your major new influences in 04?
  • What are your predictions for 05?

Let me know your thoughts.

  • Vitor Leite

    Nice, but you should fix the FourtyMedia link (repeated http:// ) :)

  • toyer90

    I think most of that is right. It’ll be nice to see sIFR used more, I think it’s one of the biggest advances on the internet for years.

  • Sergej

    Why and how is sFIR better than the old javascript text-to-image replacement tools?

    Maybe it’s me being stupid, but I just don’t see it.

  • Sergej, it’s certainly not a bad question to ask, but there are a number of real advantages.

    (1) The key advantage is undoubtably it’s ability to be easily integrated into Content Management Systems. Although it’s feasible to use a server-side technology to generate a new image for each headline in your blog, it’s wasteful, technically demanding and usually badly aliased. sIFR happens entirely on the client machine, is a ‘set-and-forget’ solution and renders like silk.

    (2) The text is selectable. You can copy and paste it.

    (3) It degrades gracefully if Flash and/or Javascript are unavailable without appearing to be search engine spam or (to my knowledge) compromising the accessibility of the text.

  • Mike D.

    Thanks for the writeup Alex. It’s great to see people making good use of sIFR. In my opinion, it’s best used to render fonts which are strikingly unlike like browser fonts (see as an example).

    I have also seen it used, believe it or not, with standard typefaces like Georgia and Times merely to invoke anti-aliasing, but in my opinion it’s probably not worth it in these cases. Flex your type muscle! Use interesting fonts!

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