Progression of web development

Progression of web development: Frontend architecture and user experience (UX)

As the years go by and technology improves we see many changes within the web development industry, from responsive techniques and animations, through to better user experience (UX) and user interaction.

Most recently, people will have heard the term ‘responsive web design’ or ‘adaptive web design’ where we’re seeing innovative techniques being used. This includes the recent introduction of CSS regions which looks like it will be an interesting addition to a developers toolkit.

Responsive design is a fabulous way to improve your user’s experience. It allows you to deliver your information to people in a custom manner based on the device being used, screen size and even which way up they’re holding it. Aside from making the site far more efficient, the developer can now ensure that the site is seen in exactly the way it’s intended. The fact that’s it’s now so commonplace reinforces the fact that it’s now an essential tool rather than a ‘trend’. After all, who doesn’t want to increase their conversion rate and/or sales?

Responsive isn’t the only technique we’ve been introduced to recently though, of course. Clever use of CSS3, HTML5, and sometimes JavaScript, or other JS libraries, opens many doors for us to experiment with user interaction and animation. Providing more interaction not only gives users a better experience but it also gives them something to talk about, blog about and share.

Is it all good?

There’s a very fine line between a good user experience and a bad one. Having access to the powerful techniques that can be deployed using HTML5 and CSS3 isn’t always good and it’s very easy to over-do it with animations. It’s best to keep them subtle and smart, to gently improve the user interaction rather than show your entire arsenal of special effects all on one page. So ask yourself whether it’s totally necessary and ensure that it will have a positive impact on your website.

There’s also a behaviour that we quite often see in conjunction with responsive development; that of forcing users to navigate differently because they’re on a particular device. This needs to be made simple and intuitive. Forcing people to use certain devices or orientations isn’t friendly and can have quite a negative effect when people don’t want to ‘think’, they simply want to access the information they’re after. Clearly there’s occasions where forcing a user to turn their iPad on it’s side is totally unavoidable but like the old familiar “This website has been designed for a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels” message, you won’t win any friends by doing it!

“Everything in moderation…”

Remember this phrase?

Never has it been more applicable than now. With flat design, designers have finally moved away from using ‘every effects filter possible’ in Photoshop and it’s now the developers turn to show restraint. We’ve been introduced to many more new techniques in recent years; Parallax scrolling, SVG graphics, icon fonts that are infinitely scalable, the use of fixed header bars and infinitely scrolling pages. All good stuff but let’s start to set the trend right here;use restraint– we can save allthese topics for another day.