The Future of Web Design: What I learnt
At Branded3 we are constantly striving to provide cutting edge design that is professionally crafted with a user-first approach. Therefore, it is important for us to keep on top of the latest design trends, technologies and techniques to ensure we continue to be leaders in the digital industry.
Earlier this month, I attended the ‘Future of Web Design’ event held at the spectacular Brewery venue in London, with 28 speakers covering a range of insightful topics including: graphic design, UX/UI design, responsive design, CSS architecture, animation and the emerging global web. The event was jam packed full of engaging workshops, inspirational presentations and a showcase of amazing new talent in the Web Design industry. Plus, there were plenty of like-minded attendees that wanted to chat, share ideas and network.
There was a definite buzz in the venue, as if we were all friends sharing stories about projects we’ve worked on in the past and what our experiences were. On top of that, the catering was great and the games and competitions throughout the event were lots of fun. Oh, and I was a big fan of the goody bags too! It was my first time attending this event and after hearing so many good things about it, I have to admit that my expectations were quite high. But FOWD really did deliver!
The conference kicked off with a presentation from Paul Adams, the Vice President of Product at Intercom, and he focused on networks and personalisation. Paul explained that when we think of the Internet, we should not be thinking of websites only. In actuality, the Internet is an aggregation of multiple pieces of information; it’s a network, connecting people and things.
Paul predicted that the future of web design will involve us designing systems. The Internet is a core part of how we work and since we are the most social beings on Earth, we need to feel connected constantly. However, we also want to feel unique and thus, personalisation in the user journey can make us feel valued. “Eventually everything connects,” Paul said.
He then went on to explain that people often make the mistake of looking at new media and trying to apply it to existing media, instead of “walking backwards into the future.” We live in a time of great change, where the Internet is permeating everything. Therefore, we as designers will be designing change.
Peter Gasston’s presentation on ‘How to Stay Relevant’ linked nicely into what Paul was saying. This quote sums up his presentation perfectly: “By anticipating what’s next, we can react to today’s concerns but also build long-term value for people and businesses.”
My favourite presentation of the day came from Chris Jones, Creative Director at Blue Leaf, and was aptly titled ‘Wallpapering the World’. From looking at an in-depth case study, to understanding wire framing and learning about the launch of the new Graham and Brown wallpaper website and online campaigns, Chris made sure that he covered as much as he could!
It was refreshing to see a trend running through a number of speakers at the conference, which was apparent with Bonny Colville-Hyde from Sift Digital. Like Chris, Bonny starts the design process by putting pen to paper and producing comic book style sketches. Chris also admitted to once taking a large piece of wallpaper pinned to a wall with hand written notes all over it into a client meeting.
Rather than just handing in a polished piece of design, Chris and Bonny both insisted that it was really important to get the client involved in the design process as much as possible, even at the brain storm stage, and to not be afraid to show them sketches and notes. This is something we actively do here at Branded3. After all, as Ivan Brunetti says: “A lengthy description of a glass of water is no substitute for the experience of drinking a glass of water.”
The Design Journey
Chris breaks the design journey down into 8 different processes:
- Discover stage – this is where you question EVERYTHING
- Customer Journey
In the discovery stage, take time to understand the business and brand before working on any designs, as sometimes businesses need to change to accommodate the website.
“The launch [of a project] is really just the beginning of the customer journey.”
As an avid fan of animation using jQuery, HTML5 & CSS3 I was rather excited for Rachel Nabors’ presentation on ‘Animation and the Future of UX’.
Rachel cemented the fact that animation is the future of web design and although simplicity in design is best practice when designing responsively, animation is just as important. For example, showing pages sliding in and out when the user clicks on CTA allows the user to feel like they aren’t being taken away and getting lost in the site.
Overall, the conference was very inspiring and I can’t wait to return next year. Who knows what we will be talking about in just a year’s time?! It’s astonishing to know that the Internet is only 20 years old and has created such a mass audience in that short space of time. Just think, tablets didn’t even exist at the time of the last Winter Olympics and the iPad hadn’t been launched yet! And at the Winter Olympics before that, there was no iPhone! It blows my mind to think of how fast our industry is evolving. We will continue to face new challenges due to new technologies, screen resolutions, and the fact that websites don’t exist in isolation. But as designers and developers it is our responsibility to embrace this change and move forward with the times. Take risks and push boundaries with new medias.