As a web designer, you know that the biggest buzzword in the design world over the last five years has been responsive web design (RWD). Ok, that’s three words, but you get the meaning. In 2015 RWD is still a sizzling concept and other words reverberating through the air in association with it are content strategy, user experience, and accessibility.
We all know that RWD originally focused on a ‘mobile first’ design ideology, since it was projected back in 2010 that mobile traffic would exceed desktop traffic by 2015, but RWD has evolved into something much more meaningful than just optimizing for multiple devices. RWD is now focused on other aspects of user experience, besides mobile functionality, and conveying content in an attractive and engaging way.
User interaction and accessibility are the foundational elements to most of the biggest RWD trends that we are seeing in 2015. These trends include a lot more captivating and high-quality image backgrounds, gallery and video backgrounds, minimalist aesthetics including the removal of large headers and background crowding, storytelling and direct user engagement, hidden or app-like menus, and of course scrolling is still very popular, which also works to absorb the user. Another extremely focused area this year is eye-catching typography; for the most part, the larger the better.
These sites are not merely about conveying information, because, as we have learned, “content is like water” – how it is received depends entirely on the vessel in which it is offered. Great quality content presented in a less than intriguing way will end up going nowhere fast. Content is still king, but presentation is the key to the throne. Of course in such a creative arena, it helps to see what the competition is doing, AWWWARDS has a great list of ‘best website’ examples. Furthermore, you can even try building your own site and create something uniquely your own.
In this field, however, the only way to get ahead is to think ahead, so you need to put on your innovative thinking cap and go beyond these more or less aesthetic trends. According to Dan Gardner and Mike Treff – responsible for the re-design ideas behind the new Los Angeles Times, Vogue, and Mashable sites – the next step in truly responsive sites is to go beyond responsive design to a ‘responsive philosophy.’ What they mean by this is that designers need to “create dynamic systems that can ingest, analyze and act on information to serve a tailored experience.” You can read their full article here.
So essentially, websites must respond to users to create unique user experiences, as opposed to merely responding to different devices. This ‘responsive philosophy’ will prompt a moving away from a static home page, adopting a more editorial approach to conveying content, and using algorithms to cater to reader interest and keep them engaged and clicking through.
In other words, static models recommending more content to a reader to encourage them to keep clicking will be (or at least should be) a thing of the past. If your site is tracking reader interest through an algorithm, it can “govern how readers consume content” by generating “responsive pathways throughout the site to keep users engaged.” So, for example, if you visit the New York Times Lifestyle section, once you finish reading the article that initially drew you there, you should automatically scroll into the next most applicable article based on your initial reading interest.
Of course these are only a few tips and tricks, but it’s likely you know full well that the world of web design is constantly evolving. There are always more interesting and intriguing methods just around the corner, and one of them is probably yours.
Feature image curtsey of DreamsTime