Three Months In

I find it hard to believe we’re already (ok, almost) in April.

2011 in web design for me has kicked off with a BOOM! If I do say so myself. I’m no longer interested in just designing websites for clients and clients’ clients. I’m doing all that, and I’m pushing it further; looking for opportunities to use new web technologies to provide a better experience. Even if only for a single device or situation.

It can be a difficult judgement because a feature should not exist just for the sake of it – and definitely not for the ‘wow-factor’. I’m a very strong believer that design serves a strict purpose and my design style reflects that (see Reflecting on Aesthetics). Despite restraint it’s impossible not to get excited about what web browsers can do nowadays. With things like audio & video APIs, device orientation and the good old JavaScript revival, how can I not be blinded from the original purpose of websites I design?

Is the trick to design a ‘standard’ website, then carefully sprinkle on some ‘HTML5’ like the dusting of a Victoria sponge?

I don’t think that’s good enough.

But that isn’t a revolutionary thought, I must concede. No one can really describe how to design a website because there is not a single correct process, nor is there a single correct solution. There are techniques, but mostly it’s personal preference. What matters is the knowledge of identifying a good website design when you see one (including your own).

Back to the topic of modern websites. Before I ‘design’, I consider the website’s users and the tasks they need to achieve, and those they’re being asked to perform. This could be anything from simple information finding to highly engaged interactivity. I then plan the perfect work-flow, and design around that.

Simplicity is priority.

Sometimes simplicity does involve jQuery and HTML5 APIs—but more often than not—it is a single, perfectly placed hyperlink.

A quote from Kenya Hara’s book Designing Design:

The future lies ahead of us, but behind us there is also a great accumulation of history – a resource for imagination and creativity. I think we call “creative” that dynamism of intellectual conception that flows back and forth between the future and the past.

Those working in graphic design know this all too well, but sometimes I think web designers forget their past. It’s worth remembering that XHTML 2.0 was scrapped in favour of HTML5; a standard designed on top of what already existed.

Designing for the future does not mean ignoring what we already know.

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