The future of the web is content focused and responsive.
That is, if you believe me and what I read from a bazillion tweets from An Event Apart. The conference is a web-design summit with some big names in the web professional business: Jeffery Zeldmen, Eric Meyer and other people you know you should have heard of.
August 8th-10th was their Minneapolis conference, during which the world’s best web designers tweeted up a storm. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of them exactly, but I did get a few big-picture impressions about where web design is heading.
If you don’t know what responsive web design means, you should read this article. If you’re too lazy to read that, the gist is that you should design content for the web that works across a huge variety of devices, from desktops with 27” screens to video game consoles to your smartphone.
Personally I think this is a great trend on the web (and not just because it means less work for me not having to build device-specific templates). I have yet to see a responsive design on a Church website (please comment examples if you have them), but I think it’s because it has one huge implication for Churches: focused content.
Focused content means less decoration and more text (although images and videos communicate content too).
It’s a lot harder to build a responsively designed site when you have 4 background images, 7 flash videos and an image slider on your landing page. I have to say a huge amount of Church landing pages seem to be about communicating a highly graphical identity, which isn’t necessarily bad.
What I’m trying to say is that responsive web design requires a focus on content that doesn’t exist on most Church websites, or actually, most corporate websites. Which leads me to my second trend in emerging web design.
2. Content first.
Content first design is pretty self explanatory. Create, edit and refine your content before worrying about visual design. Visual design without content is just decoration.
Having just gone through a redesign with a Church, I can say that we did not do “content first”. We used the “content as we go along” method. Our site has a lot of decoration, but not a lot of content.
Anyone who has tried to build a mobile website knows that when your screen real-estate drops, you have to prune your site. In most cases, this means getting rid of quite a bit of content. When you have to get rid of content two things happen.
- You combine content that should have been combined all along.
- You get rid of content that never really needed to be there.
The principle of content first means pruning and refining content before you ever draw a sketch of your site.
I don’t know that the birth of mobile browsing means the death of multimedia websites with lots of animations a complex presentation, but focusing on content first is a great strategy.
Knowing what you want to communicate is essential to deciding how you communicate it. So often we reverse the two.
What trends have you seen in emerging web design?
[Image via Mike Rohde]