Back in July we reviewed the technology part of web 2.0 design. Today, more of the fun stuff: design in web 2.0.

You’ll probably notice most web 2.0 design coming across in blogs and newer next-generation sites that utilize the latest bells and whistles.

The designs are usually a bit more subtle but still remarkable: Gradients, patterns and rounded corners liven up the usual staid corporate feel. Reflections, or a “wet look” will often pop up as opposed to the usual flat boxes. Starbursts that “pop out” of a boxy layout call attention much as their direct mail counterparts do – but usually with more of an integrated style. And probably most notably, the illusion of depth with soft, realistic drop shadows brings some depth to the layout. Pastels and greens stand out among colors, a nod to the newly green environmental push.

As I’ve noticed these trends, I’ve tried to incorporate them more slickly into my work, offline and on: more innovative boxes with only one or two rounded corners, and real elements such as handmade paper or bamboo to express a warmer human touch to a site. That’s the true test of your site: Does it look and feel like everyone else’s, or is it unique enough to stand out from the masses?