Website Design in a Time of Transition
by Andrew MIllar
I chose the title of this blog, Website Design in a Time of Transition, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. Which is to say that the world-wide web embodies the philosophic notion that the only constant in life is change.
Since the internet has only been around in the history of man for about twenty-five years or so and individual websites for an even shorter period, it’s fair to characterize web design as an ever-evolving continuum. I believe the current description is ‘ongoing.’
One of Merriam-Webster dictionary’s descriptions of design seems to satisfy how it is applied to the internet: “to devise for a specific function or end <a book designed primarily as a college textbook>”. It also occurs to me that website design goes beyond this definition because, even though older sites still function adequately, they get replaced by newer designs because we find the change appealing. Having said that, there are some great sites where one can purchase design templates of varying function and appeal (See http://themeforest.net/, http://www.templatemonster.com/).
The drawback to template design is that you’re dealing with one size fits all. If you have a good tailor who can let that suit you bought off the rack in and out in the right places, you may get a decent looking fit. When it comes to your business appearance and function, you may want a hand-made suit. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Are You An Old Fogy?
One of the traps to avoid is the one of self-satisfaction regarding your website design. Oftentimes, when it comes to contemporary design in life, you are not the best judge. There’s a reason why the younger generation consistently considers their oldsters out of touch. It’s because they are. It is so easy to become satisfied with the way things are and cease to imagine how they could be. In design terms that shows up in everything from clothing styles to hair styles. And websites.
Trends in web design are influenced by changes in: technology, market, popular art, and fashion. For some applications, a new trend is pageless website design. The favored feature here allows the user to simply scroll through the site as the information is presented in a linear, story-telling fashion. (see how Nathan b. Weller at Digital Telepathy treats this idea: http://www.dtelepathy.com/blog/design/8-reasons-why-pageless-design-is-the-future-of-the-web).
Make sure your website designer employs the latest in web technology because, like it or not, form follows function. If they do not employ the latest tools, it will limit what they can offer you. Check out your competition; explore websites in related fields. Become aware of the ‘look and feel’ presented by the leaders in your specialty. Then talk to your web design people about what is possible and what will serve you best in website design in a time of transition.