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The future of web design?

Posted on by Clive Walker in Web Design Conference

The Future of Web Design Conference yesterday attempted to answer the question 'What is the future of web design'? I am not sure that the event produced a definitive answer but it certainly covered a wide range of web design activities that are happening now.

Future of Web Design 2007 In fact, at the end of the day, I was left feeling that 'web design' is in itself an inaccurate description these days. That's mainly because the conference included presentations on such diverse topics as web applications, online branding and identity, Flash, applications for the desktop, XHTML/CSS prototyping, and identifying creative ideas. These all impact on 'web design' in one way or another but the terms itself is rather misleading.

Instead of covering every single presentation, I have picked out two that I enjoyed the most. Firstly, Andy Clarke talked about 'Designing for Developers' where he described his process for designing ReallyWorried.com. This was a great presentation with humor, soundtrack music from Billy Bragg, a version of TopGear's 'cool wall' (instead of cars, think websites) and a description of the XHTML/CSS prototyping process that was used. It was entertaining!

The main theme was that website design is better prototyped with a variety of CSS-based layouts instead of Photoshop comps. There are advantage to this approach because it is much more representative of fluid-based designs, the XHTML structure is there from the start, and time is not spent on unused/rejected Photoshop graphic imagery. I use a similar process myself, perhaps for different reasons - it suits me better, so I left the room afterwards with a warm fuzzy feeling (or was that the Cornish pasty I had for lunch?).

Secondly, Jeff Croft and Florian Schmitt debated 'Flash vs Standards'. This was promoted as a 'fight' but, in actual fact, the two protagonists were quite respectful of their opponent's specialism. The overall conclusion was that Flash is better for some 'interactive, entertainment' websites (games, movies) but web standards (read, conventional XHTML) are better for other websites (news, portals). Fair enough.

Outside the main conference room, Adobe and Microsoft had demo stands. No surprises that the Adobe Creative Suite 3 demo was much more popular than the MS stand. These demos use very fast PCs/Macs and they always leave me feeling that I have the slowest PC in the world. Oh well.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the day. It was more wide-ranging than I anticipated. A couple of presentations veered into self-promo territory and I would have liked more on typography (my fault for not attending the pre-conference workshops) and more Q and A. Otherwise, pretty good.

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Comments

  • 19 Apr 2007 20:29:28

    While the procedures of the future of web design are important to look at, I believe that the company structures is where we will see the biggest changes. Right now, most web design is done by local designers who work, for the most part, on their own. How many of us know that one BIG web design firm? Who is the Microsoft of web design? I believe that large corporations performing web design is the true future. While this may be biased by my entrepreneurial attitude, I feel that the first company to take the large scale approach will be the most successful. I’ll race you all to it!!

  • 20 Apr 2007 19:08:30

    Eric, I am not at all sure that larger web design companies are a compelling argument. Admittedly, I would say that because I am a freelancer, but my experience is that people often come to me because I am local and/or they were fed-up getting ‘passed around’ the larger company. Agreed, that’s hardly good practice for any company, large or small but it seems to be more likely with larger companies. Actually, my overall opinion is that small companies with 10-20 employees may be best suited to the future of web design. Small enough for that personal touch but big enough to provide a range of skills.

  • 23 Apr 2007 07:53:18

    Thanks for the write up! Glad you enjoyed our presentation. :)

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