It’s weird. Practically overnight, several major blogs rolled out similar redesigns that follow this emerging trend that Usability Post has documented. Suddenly, Mashable, The Next Web and ReadWriteWeb all have new designs that feature prominent top bars (which are primarily statically positioned), responsive designs that fill the viewport, flat colors, big image, and annoying columns that scroll independently from the rest of the page.
In my opinion, The Next Web’s is the best, pairing polished visuals with a sense of restraint when it comes to the aforementioned sticky columns. And Mashable’s redesign is certainly an improvement over their last one.
After wondering off and on for a few days about the motive behind the sudden redesigns, I realized where I had seen something a bit similar: the new Digg. Though more sedate, it has quite a few similarities. Going from there, there is one other big redesign that happened quite recently. One that I imagine is going to affect the designs of websites, for better or worse. (Probably worse.) Drum-roll, please.
Flat colors and icons, lots of images, thin type. Sound familiar? It seems logical to me that some websites would try to mimic the look and feel of the “native” (HTML-based) Windows 8 applications to create a more seamless experience for users of the OS. App-like sites to blend in with the tablets—whether they’re iOS, Android or Windows based—that more and more people seem to be using. Or some designers at least liked the general aesthetic. (Something about that blue top bar in the Mashable design just screams “Windows 8″ to me.)