For a good period of time, web pages have served as the axis mundi of the Internet. As such, designing those pages has also had its periods of glory. However, as of lately, web design in itself is playing second fiddle to certain new trends that are on the rise. In fact, because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, web design is no longer the same.
In this post, we discuss factors that have recently affected the world of web design.
The Rise of Mobile
It is no secret that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have risen to prominence; and a larger number of users tend to browse the Internet via their mobile devices. For instance, the Gmail mobile app serves more users than gmail.com on the web.
However, this is where the catch lies: most mobile users prefer apps over websites. A website’s mobile app has better chances of success as compared to its mobile version. Therefore, even though web design has seen novel concepts such as responsive web design and adaptive web design, at the end of it all, app design is expanding at the expense of web design. This is why every major website is leaning towards having a mobile app of its own. People use Facebook’s mobile app more than m.facebook.com, for example.
The rise of mobile devices has signaled that web design can no longer be the same. Websites, no matter how mobile-friendly they are, are losing the race to mobile apps.
The Rise of Social Media
Another big factor that has had a role to play in the collapse of web design is the rise of social networking channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Of course, this is more of a double-edged sword. On one hand, social networking sites have given us a new direction in terms of web design, especially by adopting the use of whitespace to create a clutter-less design experience. That said, there has been one ostensible effect of certain social networks on web design: they are rendering basic web design redundant.
For every small and minor purpose, say a wedding photo collection or a small business presence, social networks seem to suffice and work better than a self-hosted static website. Facebook pages seem to be enough for a local cafeteria’s online presence—connecting with a limited audience, or reaching out to new audiences, no matter what your goal might be, you can survive on social networks sans a self-hosted blog, but not the other way round. This is why blogging services such as WordPress.com, Tumblr, and even Blogger are now trying to introduce a sense of community-centric blogging experience, modeled around social networking sites.
The Present State of “Web Design”
Automated templates and ready-to-use drag and drop page builders have also affected the web design world. Nowadays, you “build” websites, you do not really “design” or “create” them. The fact that theme marketplaces are full of drag and drop page builders and themes that are ready to use shows that web design in itself is steering towards web customization, and has become friendlier towards the end user.
Of course, this is a good thing to happen. However, this also means that web design is losing the sense of enigma that came attached to it. Tweaking the odd CSS files and using automated tools is what the average user needs to fully give their website a unique look.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So, is web design dead? Not really. However, it has lost its prominent position.
And what will replace web design? Mobile app design? No.
UI design and UX design.
We have entered an era of UX and UI design. Whether you are using a website on your desktop, a website on your tablet, or an app on your mobile phone, User Interface and User Experience are two entities that remain of supreme importance. If the given app does not have a decent interface, or the given website offers a bad user experience, conversion rates will surely suffer.
As such, any designer who is serious about his or her job must evolve beyond web design, and pay special attention to UI and UX.
Of course, this does not imply that web design has become a futile endeavor. When the television was launched, many folks described cinema to be dead. Similarly, when the internet became popular, people were quick to adjudge the television as a dying entity. Yet, both the cinema and the television have survived. However, what is worth noting is that producers and content providers have evolved in order to survive: any producer who was working only on the cinema platform has started using the television as promotional medium, and many television broadcasters are regularly making use of Hulu+ and YouTube to promote their content.
Therefore, web design, too, is evolving. The focus has surely shifted in favor of mobile apps and social networks, and while websites continue to be relevant and required, they badly need to be supplemented by mobile tools and social proof. This is why any web designer worth his salt must now pay special attention to improving the overall UI and UX of his designs. The web page of today is no longer the holding container for all types of content: instead, it is more of a supportive container.
What do you think of web design and the recent trends? Share your views in the comments below!