The future of web design will most likely build upon the dominant trends of responsiveness, visual media emphasis, and single page compression. Modern web design has been and will most likely continue to be affected by the physical technology that the majority uses to digest content, primarily smartphones and tablets.
Leaving the screen behind?
As web design continues to evolve, there are some who anticipate that there might be an eventual departure from the conventional screen interface as a whole. What some authorities in the tech world are referring to the prospect of this screen-less future as is the Age of Context, coined by authors Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.
Web design in the Age of Context
Author Robert Scoble and co-author Shel Israel were among the first proponents for business-oriented social media usage in the year 2006. Scoble and Israel collaborated on their book, Age of Context, to shed some light on what they believe to be “five converging forces” of virtual power with the potential to change the world as we known it.
Essentially, Scoble and Israel assert that our devices have an inherent power to predict our needs and wants on their own; this predictive power, according to the authors, could possibly even eclipse human assistance. In the purported Age of Context, web design would develop in a world where only the ads that an Internet user expresses explicit interest in seeing would be presented to them.
If web design is molded in an environment of device-calibrated media digestion, then the personalization of the Internet browsing experience could reach new heights. Currently, however, this is mostly speculative; in the meantime, the following are the most dominant web design trends that we can observe actively affecting the future.
Websites will become even more minimized and streamlined
Because the average age of a savvy Internet user has gotten increasingly lower, the need for things to be faster and simpler is more pronounced than ever before. Attention spans are short, open tabs are numerous, and even a few seconds of lag in the browsing experience is considered completely unacceptable. Websites not only need to load quickly, but their purpose needs to be communicated quickly as well.
An increased level of focus on finger scrolling
Long gone are the days when the main form of vertically combing through a website page depended on cursor keys and mouse wheels. The scrollbar is just about as ancient as hieroglyphics. Mobile devices make thumb-scrolling second-nature, which will likely lead to more websites being designed around the anticipation of thumb-scrolling visitors.
Responsive design will continue to be the number one priority
The heavy influence of mobile-optimized design both has and will continue to create new standards for what most people consider to be a ‘usable’ website interface. Response web design (RWD) has emerged as the answer to prayers of designers who need their websites to be equally functional on both iOS screens and the conventional desktop screen as well. RWD not only has an impact on usability, but also on Google indexing priority as well.
Vector images will become more commonplace
Modern browsers have provided an ample opportunity for the more frequent use of vector images instead of pixels. The demand for images that can be scaled to size without losing any quality have and will become even stronger than before; this will play directly into the speed of future websites’ loading and response speed.
Web design statistics
The data collected on Internet user behavior illustrates a good reason why web design trends have been so strongly directed towards mobile optimization, swift responsiveness and visual content. According to survey results, Adobe reported that just about 66% of respondents claimed that they would rather read aesthetically attractive content than plain content.
Adobe’s survey also revealed that nearly 40% of respondents claimed that they would stop interacting with a website if the images didn’t load within a few seconds, and also that nearly the same amount of respondents would cease interacting with a website altogether if it wasn’t attractive enough.
Website consumption statistics collected by comScore revealed that smartphone Internet usage jumped up by 78%, tablet usage rose by 30%, and desktop usage dropped by 1%. ComScore’s report showed that just about 2 out of every 3 minutes of Internet usage was made up by mobile device browsing.
The history of web design
In order to put the future of web design into proper context, its history must be understood fully first. Web design had its beginnings in the year 1989, a dark age of monochrome pixels and near-completely pitch black screens.
The Graphic User Interface was the only way for anyone to surf the web until the year 1995, at which point browsers were brought to light. Tables within HTML were the only ways to structure information, and for some time, web design consisted of finding innovative ways to structure tables within other tables.
Mobile domination laid the foundation for the rise of responsive web design in 2010, and six years later, here we are on the cusp of a new age once again; however, this future hasn’t abandoned its past. CSS and HTML are still used, though the objective for many designers became the creative and effective overlap of multiple layouts. Designers began experimenting to discover how many different ways content could be made to appear the same on multiple interfaces and devices.
The future of web design will, ultimately, be focused on compressing and accelerating the user experience to match the growing demand for a more ‘instant’ web experience. Users are moble, savvy, younger, and glued to their phones; web designers need to be swifter and more concise, but thankfully, their power to do so is ample.