Like most art forms, website design is in a constant flux of trends, new ideas, and reinvented concepts. With advances in Internet programming, websites are now able to offer more control over content and visual design than ever before. This new control has brought its own host problems, including increased complexity in the coding process and slower loading times due to an increase in resources. Like any good artist, we take the faults in our canvas into account and decide on which brushes/tools to use to obtain the best results.
Although it takes many forms, I consider modern website design to be the utilization of design methods to increase the beautification, standardization, and usability of a website. This does not mean that the a design method is a new invention, but it may have been reinvented to apply to the Web’s ever-changing technologies. What follows is a brief look at some of these methods and how they can benefit new websites.
Responsive Web Design
The most common technique in use today is to create one site for all devices. The strategy works by allowing site content to “find” the best position for itself depending on the size and shape of the screen. You can see this in action now if you change your browser window’s width by dragging it smaller or larger (if you are using a smaller device try changing the orientation of your screen). Another technique used with responsive web design is to dynamically remove content that is less effective at smaller screen sizes.
We consider responsive Web design to be a necessity for all websites. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 64% of Adults have smartphones and the numbers smartphone users are expected to continue to rise.
Parallax Web Design
Parallax design could be a simple background moving a different speed or it can be used to create fully animated story telling elements. One thing we like to keep in mind is more complicated parallax designs may not work well with phones and small devices.
This effect often gives websites a modern look without placing too much emphasis on itself. This keeps site visitors focused on the content of the page without being distracted by page elements.
Single Page Design
This design method can be very useful depending on how much content you may have to share. If your website has too much content on a single page it can cause the website load time to increase and in some cases slow down the browser. Single page designs are often used with storytelling elements such as the parallax design.
The major benefit of a single page design is the viewer never has to wait for new content to load. Simplicity is key to a well-designed single page with each section focusing on its material. This allows you to focus your energies on your content without having to worry about fluff for pages that might have seemed bare before.
Flat/ Minimalist Design
Graphics with a flat design bring the added benefit of a small file size. This allows websites to load faster due to a decrease in required resources. Using the idea of simplicity, websites that follow a flat design often have a very clean look. Think of a modern art gallery where there are only but a few pieces of art hanging on a blank wall; this allows the user to focus directly on the material displayed without distraction.
For more modern web design techniques check out part two.