Join James Williamson for an in-depth discussion in this video Dealing with a multidevice world, part of Introduction to Web Design and Development.
- Perhaps the biggest change in web design over the past 10 years has been the rise of mobile devices. Prior to smartphones, the biggest challenge that we had as designers was worrying about which screen resolution to support. But once phones and tablets began consuming web content, we had an entirely new set of screens to worry about. Techniques are still evolving to help us design for these multiple devices. So as designers, we need to be extremely flexible in the way that we plan and design sites.
That means that if you're new to web design, congratulations, you really don't have to change anything. Instead of having to relearn how to design sites, you can just focus on designing for a multi-device world. The truth is, however, we're still in a state of flux, and not all solutions or best practices are fully evolved yet. Because of that, you should make sure that your process of learning web design involves staying current with how web design techniques are changing to deal with an ever-growing list of web-capable devices.
One of the biggest changes, triggered by the rise of mobile devices, is how we approach planning our sites. Many designers now consider mobile first when planning sites, rather than the desktop. This movement has been championed by Luke Wroblewski, who has coined the term "mobile first" in reference to planning and structuring sites with mobile in mind first and then working up in screen size. There's evidence to back up the soundness of this plan, as increasingly web content is being consumed on mobile devices more than on the desktop.
Regardless of whether you're planning your site for mobile first, desktop first, or as equal partners, you need to have a strategy in place for how your content should look and function across multiple devices. I'm not going to pretend that this is easy, but if you focus on this approach as you learn web design, it simply becomes the natural way that you work. While the current focus seems to be on mobile devices and smaller screens, it's actually overlooking an emerging trend.
We're quickly approaching an always-connected world. There's an increasing array of web-connected devices that don't really fit traditional molds. Some don't have screens at all, and yet still consume web content. That means that, in the near future, we'll be designing, not only for devices like phones and laptops, but also cars, shoes, watches, glasses and household appliances. Making sure that your content is structured with standards-compliant code and written with clear semantics is critical to making sure that your content will be able to be accessed by this growing array of devices.
It's likely that in the near future, we'll see new standards and new APIs that are designed to help us create content for these non-traditional devices. In the mean time, make sure you focus on writing clean semantic code and learning best practices and techniques for displaying content across multiple devices.
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- What is web design?
- What is a web designer?
- Learning to code
- Choosing a web host
- Working with a CMS
- Exploring how websites are structured
- Choosing your framework or software
- Designing with standards and accessibility in mind