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Web 2.0 Design: Trends and Common Practices

Web 2.0. We hear the term thrown around everywhere, but what does it mean. The term Web 2.0 (popularized by O'Reilly Media) generally refers to a second generation of web sites or online services that allow users to interact collaborate and share information. Content tends to be community driven, both in contributions but in determining what is popular or relevant. The control of content is vested with the user base, rather than by the site publisher. Compared to the previous generation of web sites, Web 2.0 gives users an experience closer to a desktop application than the traditional static Web pages. Many, however, feel that Web 2.0 is simply an over used "buzz" word meaning anything new or trendy on the web.

What considerations are there for 2.0 Design?

Along with the new trend of web functionality, newer design methods have been prevalent with web 2.0 sites. A great deal of work has been done to simplify sites and increase accessibility so as to streamline the user experience.

Although not limited to, many common features in 2.0 site design include:

Clean, simple layouts including large amounts of white space

It's clear to see that simplicity is the general theme. In order to make the functionality and information of these new sites accessible, designers have been removing clutter and ensuring a logical layout and focus of content.

Clean, neutral backgrounds with punches of bold color

White, grey or beige backgrounds are most prominent, often with subtle fades or patterns. Injecting the content with bright color, the contrast tends to create an effective and striking means to focus attention.

Large, easily legible fonts

Font sizes overall seem to be increasing. This is most likely a response to accessibility for users with less than perfect vision, as well as the increase in popularity of higher resolution displays. The key, however, is finding the balance to ensure a comfortable user experience.

3D or "Gel" effects

It’s very common for headers, icons, buttons, menu and title bars to have gradients, highlights and shadows applied to increase contrast with the background and draw the eye on content. Done, with discretion, many very appealing effects can be achieved.


Clean, eye-catching icon use has been a popular method to communicate the value of function of information presented.

A Final Note...

Keep in mind these are only observations and by no means a guide of any kind. There is no official standard or formula for what makes something "Web 2.0".

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