While internal navigation, SEO and other functionality and traffic-driving aspects of your website may be important, newcomers to the online business scene also need to realise that site design is near the very top of the list. Unique, innovative and original sites get much more attention and inspire much more excitement than bland, overused sites that simply blend in with the fray.

Sites with a touch of original flair consistently appeal to people more than the prefab cookie cutter templates available via your web host’s options. In 2012, there are currently some hot design features trending positive, and with a little bit of original tweaking, you can use one of these trends to stand out above the crowd.

Below, we’ll touch on five different website trends that are currently hot in 2012. These are trends just coming into their own, basically still in their infancy, so you can bet that they’ll be around for years. Getting in on these trends now will ensure that your site separates itself from the rest of the pack.

1. Typography

As long as you can add a different font tag in your HTML, you’re already a typography expert. Simply put, typography is the act of adding different font sizes and styles to the same page. If you’re able to pull this off correctly, the result is very appealing. The differences in font can grab attention and come across as something new and exciting. The playful font takes the place of photos and graphics that can bog down a site’s performance.

2. Sketch Design

Thanks to apps like Adobe Ideas, hand-drawn designs are now trending up in a big way in 2012. Although this idea isn’t new, more and more people can now easily add original sketches to their websites. You don’t need to be Picasso here. The idea of abstract, original art is what’s so appealing. There’s really no better way to stake your claim on originality than to sketch your site’s design yourself.

3. Oversized Imagery

Most websites you visit are going to have the same headers and logos in terms of size and placement. But a hot trend this year is to make oversized logos and headers and other images on the site. Oversized headers also improve functionality by giving your visitors more to respond to without having to click through on anything to navigate your site.

4. Fixed Navigation

Perfect for sales system websites with long, detailed sales pages, fixed-point navigation really keeps things clean and tidy. Instead of an intricate system of navigation, you instead leave your navigation visible at all times, interchangeable from one area of the site to the other. You’re basically putting most of your website on one page.

5. Animation

Animated portions of the website, when kept small and contained, can really appeal to visitors. By using jQuery, HTML5 or CSS3, you can add different animation features to your site without affecting the overall functionality and loading time. Whimsical, eye-popping visuals are trending.

You never want to rip off a trend and design your website just like someone else’s. But when you’re looking for inspiration and a way to separate yourself from the pack while still playing to a popular niche, you can definitely use these hot trends to your advantage.