Examining the Recent Changes in Web Design
It is hard to believe that the life span of the World Wide Web can now be measured in decades, but it’s true. Over the last few years, the web has become ubiquitous, and modern websites are more sophisticated, responsive and feature-packed than ever before. Compared to the primitive websites of the 1990s, today’s online content is incredible. In fact, some websites that we use without thinking about today offer more capabilities than standalone desktop apps from just a few years ago.
As web browsers have become more powerful and internet connection speeds have become faster, designers enjoy more freedoms than ever before to produce interesting and interactive online content. However, that?s not to say that modern web design is completely free from challenges. Today, we access the web not just from our desktop computers, but also from mobile devices. In fact, in June 2014 mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic worldwide for the first time ever. Much of that traffic came from social media apps, but mobile search is growing steadily in popularity, and by 2015 it is likely that mobile search volumes will exceed desktop search volumes.
So what does that mean for web design in 2014? Well, today’s designers must make an effort to ensure that their content can be read on any one of a number of devices, including desktop PCs, the most modern Apple devices with Retina displays, smartphones, feature phones, laptops, WebTVs, Amazon Kindles with black and white screens and limited browser capabilities, and a huge range of other devices.
In addition, web designers must think about the way that people interact with their websites. During the 90s, it was a fairly safe bet that if you owned a computer and were accessing the web, you were a tech-savvy person and an early adopter, willing to tweak and tinker with your settings or spend some time learning how to do things to get access to the content that interested you. Today, the internet is just another utility, and people expect websites to work first time. If you do not offer instant access to the content that a web surfer wants, then they will move on and try another website instead.
Interactivity in Web Design
While people expect that your website will load quickly, be easy to navigate and just work, that doesn’t mean that they will be content with a static website. Most people want the same high-end user experience on all of their devices. This is usually achieved by a concept known as responsive design. They want their websites to be interactive and expect to be able to engage with the website to customize their user experience.
Thanks to social media and user-generated content, many web surfers have become accustomed to getting constant streams of information about the things that they care about. They want to be able to read about the latest celebrity news, get real-time weather updates, follow important events and hear about exciting new products the moment they are released.
For webmasters, this poses an interesting problem: providing enough content. There is a lot of pressure to be ‘first’ with exciting news, but being first is not a good idea if it means sacrificing proofreading and fact-checking. Getting important news wrong is bad PR. Some webmasters get around this by allowing users to submit content, but this presents its own problems. What if the users spam, or post content that is offensive or objectionable. How will you moderate your community?
Web Design – The New Technologies
All of these technologies make it easier to make visually appealing, interactive content for the web. However, it is difficult for one single developer to stay up to date with the latest changes in all of these technologies. Some web designers get around these challenges by basing their websites on a popular free and open-source platform such as WordPress, Drupal or OS Commerce and focusing on creating skins or themes for these content management systems and store platforms.
Other web designers team up with expert web developers to create bespoke websites. Either of these solutions can be a good one. What is clear, however, is that it is a rare person indeed who is able to develop fully featured custom websites from scratch on their own.
These are just a few of the most recent changes in web design. It is important to remember that web design is always evolving, and the things that are new and cutting-edge today could be boring and obsolete – or even frowned upon – in just a few years time. Good web designers do not allow themselves to fall into set habits. They are always learning, developing and embracing new ideas. The web is a collection of knowledge and a window to the world, and a good designer will make sure that they make their content as easy to access, and as appealing, as possible.
If you are looking for someone to develop a website for you, it is a good idea to investigate several different developers. Talk to each one and find out what technologies they know and how much experience they have with other aspects of managing a website, such as SEO and marketing. In addition, look at a few of the websites in their portfolio. Do they look good to you? Are you happy with how quickly those websites load, and are they easy to navigate? If you are not impressed with the websites in a designer’s portfolio, move on and talk to another designer. Remember that your website represents your brand. It may be the first and only contact many people have with your brand.
Also see web design