Throwback Design

So right now the design trends are very simplistic, lots of white space, big buttons, flat colors. Think minimalist. Think flat.

Does this remind anyone else of the 90s?

I am sure I've been at this too long, and I guess my age is now showing. Everything often comes full circle, and design (in any form) is no exception... look at fashion design, it's like someone went through my elementary school clothing and tried to make it seem new again.

Of course there are new things thrown in there. Infinite scrolling is really hitting the main stream, as is parallax scrolling (I TOTALLY was designing a website for my singer friend years ago with this concept in mind... I never did finish the site tho - I should really go back and look at that some day. Maybe I was a bit ahead of the game there... of course it was built in Flex, a dying technology.)

Why these trends? Why this movement? In a word, mobile. I don't think it's any secret or any great epiphany that mobile is steering web design at the moment. People talk of "responsive layouts", I call them liquid layouts, same difference. But I think now it's more about uniform layouts. Web sites that can be shown on a large or small screen, look the same, act the same, and still be a good experience regardless of the device. This is definitely a challenge. I think this is where all this white space and simplicity comes from. You of course miss out on space usage since people tend to have larger and larger monitors now a days... and you miss out on cool use of gestures on mobile. So the argument then is that it's more important to have a uniform experience regardless of device. I can see both sides of the coin, but I tend to agree more with the majority, that uniform experience trumps coolness.

I should be able to look at a web site I often browse on my lunch break at work on my laptop later on my iPhone while waiting for the bus and just know how to use it. It should look and feel familiar. It should behave the same way. I shouldn't think "this site looks better on my iPhone" or "this is too hard to see/use on my iPhone".

What's happening, is what UXers have been screaming for for years, content is driving the site. No longer is the coolness factor having people logging on.... instead your content, which is, lets face it, the REAL reason you're online in the first place, is driving the design of the site. And that's as it should be, if you're a purist.

So as a UXer I can sit back and congratulate my peers on winning a battle... but now I have noticed a new one emerging from the ashes. Actually ironing out that content up front. I am fining it very difficult to have my clients decide what their content would consist of. Sure, we can come up with a site map, no problem. But what goes into each of those pages? They usually can't give me a real answer... and that's where I am struggling. How do I design a web site around content if I can't get the content out of my clients? They are so anxious to see a design, they can't wait for the content to be ironed out. I guess I need to put my battle helm back on.


Nina Athena said…
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on this topic. This is really helpful and informative, as this gave me more insight to create more ideas and solutions for my plan. I would love to see more updates from you.

Melbourne Web Designer

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