/ Create Your Look /
Back when I started developing for the web in the late 1990's, websites looked somewhat plain. Due to low bandwidth concerns, we (as web designers) had to be judicious with our use of imagery, how many were in a given page and their respective file size. Although we had images in our pages, the focus was primarily the written content.
Picture a black and white photo. It used simple technology but captured the essence of the moment.
"Responsive design isn't so much about technology changes as it is about changing our way of thinking about design."
We then entered the era of high speed connectivity. As a result, web designers began creating more pristine looking websites. Hours upon hours were spent in Photoshop or Fireworks designing pixel perfect comps, often painstakingly with what felt like endless amounts of iterations just for our clients. Sites were no longer considered boring and dull. They were seen as magnificent works of art. Flash animation also became a big part of the user experience.
Picture a beautiful painting. We used large images, vibrant colors, rich media, and designed around a fixed-width canvas.
Designing For The Web Today
Web designers are facing what I would consider a "good dilemma." The web as we've come to know it is evolving into something much broader. Where we once viewed the web as a browser-only medium is now experienced everywhere. Mobile usage statistics are proving that more and more people are using these devices to access the web. And this is causing both web designers and developers to rethink the web design work flow process.
Modern Web Design
Like most designers and still practiced by many today, my traditional work flow has always included designing custom layouts around my client's needs and objectives. Creating such detailed web interfaces was something I enjoyed as part of my creative work flow. But in order to meet the demands of a multi-device world, I felt I needed a different, more flexible strategy which I like to call a responsible responsive design approach. (Now that's a mouth full.) But I do believe as web designers that we have a responsibility to serve those who use our work. So as the needs change, we too must adapt accordingly.
In my current work flow, instead of creating elaborate web design compositions, I now create granular-like design modules, and often these are viewed within the browser. This includes typography, colors, textures, images, and an overall general feel for what the design will look like. Sometimes this new process can be difficult to comprehend. But when you think about it, we're already seeing sites that work in a similiar fashion.
Let's look at Pinterest for just a moment. We can create our own boards of things we find interesting. So, for example, if I'm designing a new living room for my home, I can use Pinterest to assist me in bringing all my ideas together in one location. As I find items I like such as textures, colors, rustic things, ornate objects, furniture, and so much more, I can pin them to my boards. And if we change our minds later on about something we pinned, we can easily remove it as our ideas and tastes can change over time (and that's a wonderful thing). But in the end, our expectation of Pinterest is not that we see the complete living room but that we have a much clearer picture of what that room can be like in the end. That's precisely the design process I use with my clients.
Picture a chameleon: It adapts and responds to an ever-changing environment.
Advantages To a Responsive Design Approach
- A shift in thinking from the "perfect solution" to creating a "smarter strategy."
- Helps you move from a traditional fixed width canvas perspective to a more fluid appoach.
- Flexible and adapts to multiple contexts (browsers, mobile devices, etc.).
- A modular approach gives greater attention to details and immediate client feedback.
- Creates opportunities for a conversation with my clients, an ongoing dialogue.
- Designing in the browser helps you see HOW things are used and not just how they might look.
- You have more input in the design process.
- Responsive design allows me to design around your content. (When you think about it, isn't that what people search for everyday?)
- Helps you reach a much wider audience.
This process is definitely new and different and it's something the industry is having to address as the web landscape continues to evolve. But I want to be clear with you - the quality of how your site is designed will never be compromised. I'm still a firm believer in developing creative and innovative websites. But how I go about that process is going to be different.
Ok. I realize there are a few of you who want to ask, "Do I still design comps for unique situations?" To answer your question, "Yes!" I believe in being flexible and understanding to unique circumstances and there will still be a good reason for creating them. Learn more about my, "I only need custom web design services only."