These days, change is the only constant on the Internet. That’s doubly true where web design’s concerned. You need to be prepared, or you’ll be left behind.
Technology moves pretty fast, doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday, landlines and fax machines were the de facto means through which everyone did business. Now, everything’s online. Everything’s about the Internet, social media, mobility, and Cloud Computing.
It can be sort of dizzying to keep up with it all, can’t it?
Trouble is, if you work in a technologically oriented field, you need to. That’s especially true if you work in web design. In order to ensure that your websites still resonate with your brand’s audience, you need to be aware of how that audience consumes content - and how that’s changing, both now and in the future.
By looking forward and readying yourself for what’s to come, you can help ensure that whatever happens, your sites will still entrance, entertain, and enthrall.
We’ll See A Shift To Pageless Design
Mobile devices are now the de-facto medium through which most people browse the web - and to say that old-school websites don’t really play nice with most smartphones and tablets is putting it lightly. That fact in and of itself is driving a number of trends in the design space, the most prominent of which is pageless design.
Maybe it’s a little disingenuous to say mobility’s the core driver behind pageless design. In actuality, there are a number of intersecting trends that are pushing it forward. Better browser capability, fewer network limitations, advanced coding languages like HTML and CSS...you get the idea.
Basically, a lot of designers have realized that traditional ‘page by page’ navigation and rigid sitemaps are archaic, cumbersome relics of the past. Pageless design is more seamless, easier to digest, more intuitive, and better-suited for the vast array of form factors present on the modern web. Not only that, according to Digital Telepathy, pageless websites lead to higher conversion rates, easier analytics, and lower bounce rates - and they’re also way more affordable to develop.
Complex Sites Are Falling Out Of Favor
The pageless design trend is part of a wider push towards a simplified browsing experience. See, partially as a result of social media, today’s web user is frequently bombarded with information on all sides. There are two side effects to this climate:
- We’ve become much faster at navigating through web-pages and consuming information.
- We have less bandwidth/energy to expend on understanding each individual piece of content. If something takes too long
“Websites are forced not just to become faster, but become faster to understand,” writes Jowita Ziobro of Medium. “Designs which slow the user down have the same impact on their audience as these websites which don’t load at all. Users are more perceptive, less patient, and clutter only slows them down. Flat design is just the beginning.”
Gesture Controls Will Take Control
I’d like you to try something for me. Pick up your smartphone and navigate to a website of your choice. Doesn’t really matter which one you go to - just bear with me on this.
Now, while you’re on the site, try to fiddle around with gesture controls on your touchscreen. Chances are rather high that aside from pinch to zoom and scrolling, the site you’re visiting probably doesn’t offer much in the way of complex gesture control. Moving forward, that’s very likely to change.
After all, if you’re designing a website, you design for deep interaction with whatever interface the majority of your audience is using. We’ve already started seeing fully gesture-controlled sites. They’ll only grow more prominent as more developers key in on their value.
App Development And Web Design Are Starting To Intersect
Ask a roomful of web developers whether it’s better to have a website or a dedicated mobile app, and you’re bound to get at least three different answers. There’s a reason for that, mind you. The lines between web apps and websites are blurring more and more with each passing day - and in many cases, they’ve almost identical goals (driving engagement, helping consumers interact with the brand, and increasing brand awareness).
Factor in the diverse array of languages that now often go into creating a website, and web development and web design are growing closer and closer to one another with each passing day.
There's a Small, Stubborn Camp Trying to Stick to the Old Ways (And They’re Successful In Doing So)
While the larger web design industry is pushing for simplified, sleek, and spartan websites, there’s a camp of web designers on the fringes who are pushing back and hurling themselves adamantly in the opposite direction. Rather than going for user-friendliness, they’re turning back to the 90s for their design cues - they’re basically web design hipsters.
On the surface, this approach might seem akin to suicide. Who’s going to use your site if it’s an obtuse nightmare? And yet, for some strange reason, it’s working.
Why else would some of the largest sites on the web be rolling with it?
“These sites eschew the templated, user-friendly interfaces that have long been the industry’s best practice,” writes The Washington Post’s Katherine Arcement. “Instead they’re built on imperfect, hand-coded HTML and take their design cues from ’90s graphics.The name of this school, if you could call it that, is Web Brutalism...brutalism remains one of those things where you know it when you see it. And lately, you see it a lot.”
Preparing For The Future
The only constant on the web is change. As a designer, you need to be aware of that. Because if you aren’t regularly taking steps to adapt to change, you’ll end up getting left behind by those that do.