Type the phrase "Web 2.0 design" into Google. What do you get? A bunch of tutorials on how to use Photoshop to create shiny, shiny buttons.
Does that mean that you can enter the land of Web 2.0 by taking your existing website and adding glossy buttons, rounded corners, gradient backgrounds, and graphics that look like they are reflecting on a wet surface?
The term "Web 2.0" was coined for a conference in 2005 as a catch-all to describe post-2001 trends in web development.
It is easy for people to latch onto surface texture – like shiny buttons – but the reality is that many web design trends of the past few years are the result of underlying changes in how the web works and how it is used. Greater browser support for CSS design standards has expanded what kinds of designs can be implemented. The trend toward dynamic and interactive websites has pushed designs to be more flexible and to have clearly defined sections. And, as people increasingly use the web as a platform for social connections, business collaboration, and research, websites that are functional and easy to use become more important.
Shiny buttons aside, here are some design concepts that might be considered Web 2.0:
Minimalistic Google sets the tone for this concept, but many other sites have followed suit. Simplicity doesn’t mean bare-bones, although it can. It means that site elements are organized logically and obviously, so that it is easy for a casual visitor to instantly grasp what the site is about.
Modern websites have a lot more going on than websites of the past, and it’s crucial to corral all that visual activity in such a way that it doesn’t turn into a big mess.
For a while back in 1997, web designers seemed to have the idea that being cold and a little dull was the best way for a small company to communicate professionalism. (Don’t forget the stock photographs of serious-looking people in business attire!)
The best modern websites have a strong design personality and communicate a sense of fun. Bold icons, humor, splashes of bright color, cartoons, distinctive visual textures or illustrations — all of these have a place.
3. Attractive calls to action
A "call to action" is a marketing concept: essentially it means telling people in no uncertain terms what exactly it is that you want them to do. In marketing, of course, the thing that you want people to do is something that directly gets you money. "Buy now!" or "Call us today!"
Calls to action on the web include not only standard marketing, but also how to use elements that are free to the user — "Watch kittens frolic" or "Download our free software" are both calls to action.
The best calls to action feature both a visual iconic element, and a text element. These two aspects work together for instant recognition.
And yes, calls to action can include shiny buttons.