Every year we see numerous new articles appearing online that try to predict the future of web design. How accurate are they? Only hindsight can say for certain. But for those of us whose livelihoods depend on giving our customers and users what they want, we need to have the best possible information on what is to come, or at the very least an idea of where certain trends might progress.
Even casual users want to know:
- What will be the next major development?
- Will anything shake up the web as much as the birth of social media did?
- And (maybe most important of all…!) if so, is it too late to buy stock in it?
Hey, you can’t blame us for not wanting to miss out on the next Facebook!
See the thing is, you can’t predict disruptive change – if you could, then you could prepare for it. But that’s the rub; no-one can say for sure what the digital landscape will look like next year, let alone next decade.
So while we can’t tell you exactly what the future of web design is, we can make a few predictions based on existing trends and technologies, and see where they are likely to take us over the next few years.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
With the popularity of wearable technology on the rise, the web is already becoming integrated into people’s lives like never before.
Concepts like Google Glass and Oculus Rift show that users are looking for a more immersive experience and so whilst the technology may or may not be ready, expect to see a whole lot more of VR and AR over the coming years. .
Mobile Users and M-Commerce
The shift of paying web traffic to mobile devices is an undeniable trend, and one that is certain to define the future of web design. Rather than making existing websites ‘mobile compatible’, many designers are opting for a ‘mobile first’ approach that really take advantages of the benefits of these little devices.
The big question right now is how to go about that… which leads us to:
Responsive Design vs Adaptive Design
In responsive web design, your existing content can be displayed on a wide variety of screen sizes and shapes, but the content itself stays the same. The future of web design in the mobile context probably lies with adaptive design, your site can display radically different information or elements on screens which fall into a number of size and shape ranges.
Adaptive web design then lets you not just tailor your message to your market (why even tell an iPhone user about your Android app?), but also allows you to support the specific technologies and operating systems behind those screens. You can literally code different sites for different devices, all at one address.
UX and Interactive Design
User experience (UX) has gotten much better lately, and this trend will definitely continue. As more and more promising young developers adopt UX philosophies, we will see some truly remarkable advances in the very near future.
It needn’t all be ‘bigger, better and brighter’, though. UX isn’t about overwhelming the user, but about giving them the experience they want. Many of these advances will be in terms of simplification, ease of use, and finding more elegant ways for users to interact with your designs. More function, with less (visible) form. In fact, this movement could go a lot farther than UX:
Back to Basics
We believe that in web design’s near future there will be a renewed focus on what the web really is, and needs to be. In design terms, that means developing strong, useful principles and communicating them to the user well.
The flashiest, trendiest thing gets you short term attention. Designing a simple system that is a joy to use lasts much, much longer.
Going Beyond Your Comfort Zone
That having been said, ‘basic’ doesn’t mean ‘old’, and had better not mean ‘boring’. Whatever the future of web design might be, we won’t find it in what we already know. Even if we keep our focus on better meeting people’s existing, familiar needs, we’ll have to reach far beyond our old familiar methods to do that competitively.
The Future of Web Design in London
So, what does the future really hold? We like to think that web design will become more ‘mature’ as a technology, that it will be easier to use, and give more reliable results by developing the services people want and need.
Of course, everything could change tomorrow! But for now, we believe the future of web design is in finding better ways to do what we already do… at least in the short term.