December 26, 2013 | Dave Dechant


With the advent of the new year, I wanted to touch on a few web design topics now and moving forward. Responsive design is more popular and relevant than ever, flat design has taken a strong hold as the design de jour, and HTML5 seems to unofficially be the industry term for all things that are new(ish) to the web.


Responsive Design

red-wing-responsive

A couple of years ago we decided to jump on the responsive web design bandwagon. It seemed like a good decision then, an even better one now. Responsive design has allowed the web to be an all-around better place for all web users and their myriad devices.

With the ability to give the client a website with one code base that automagically adjusts the layout and functionality, web design has simultaneously become more capable, yet increasingly complicated.

The responsive capabilities allow for websites that can give the user an overall better experience, while remaining platform agnostic. This often leads to better performance as well, which means more business for clients. At the same time, it also brings an almost endless barrage of design decisions to the forefront.

With new devices comes new functionality, screen resolutions, etc. The fact is, there is simply no way to test or design specifically for all of these devices. Here at ThinkSEM, we use analytics to dramatically cut down the list of devices we test/design for. Analytics data tells us the devices visitors are using to view a given site, which means we can make sure each site is optimized properly for its audience, rather than wasting time designing for any/all devices in the wild.


Flat Design

treehouse-screenshot

Web design aesthetics are constantly changing. Much of this is due to the new technology we see in the code we use (HTML5, CSS3), the software available (Sublime Text, Codekit, SASS), and the browsers (Chrome, Firefox) that contain our work.

When the web got its start, the technology at the time allowed for designs that were minimal by necessity. As the speed and capability of the web grew, so did the complexities of web design. Websites contained more imagery and interaction than ever.

You know that whole, “With power comes responsibility” thing? Well, let’s just say that there are many designers (yours truly included) who felt the need to use these newer capabilities simply because they could.

Fast-forward to the web landscape of today, and it’s amazing to see how things have come full circle. Flat design basically runs with the concept of a cleaner, easier-to-use web. Consider the goal of most websites. The users’ experience should be as simple and hassle-free as possible.

By removing unnecessary clutter from the design, and using color or other tools of conversion, the user is better able to find the information they need, or reach the goal their site visit was made for.


What Does HTML5 Mean To You?

html5-logo

This last bit is just my current gripe with the industry at large. While HTML5 actually refers to the front-end markup of a website and is simply the latest iteration of HTML, the term is used indiscriminately. While this is a minor gripe and not worth getting to worked up over, I would like to see terms used properly within the industry at least…

Annoyances aside, it’s great to have all the technical and semantic upgrades that come from using HTML5.


The Web: 2014 Edition

So, what will the web look like in 2014? For the average user, I believe it will look fairly similar, albeit increasingly faster, easier to use, and available in more ways.

As for the creators, I look forward to the increased potential of browsers and the software we use to help make better performing web experiences.

And as for myself, I think I’ll take a cue from flat design by looking at how I go about creating websites. It seems as though I add a new piece of software to my process every month.

Here’s a question I propose: Of the software used in your design/development process, which is actually making your process more efficient?

Remember, the end goal is to create something that works well for the client. And while it’s great to dabble in all the new shiny stuff our industry kicks out, I for one will be keeping closer tabs on the new things I adopt, and whether or not it’s a necessity, or more of a “me too” type addition to my process.

What sort of things are you looking forward to in 2014? Feel free to comment below, and have a great new year!


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