Web Design: Part 3 Technological Shift

(Left: A still from a class assignment, a promotional video for Seattle Central Community College’s information technology program.)


Part three of a Summary of Erik Fadiman’s Opening Lecture to His Web Design Bootcamp 2012 

In Web Design, the newest considerations we must make involve the versatility of the web. The Internet is in mobile devices ranging in size and power and each offers something unique that should be addressed by design. Responsive design is not a trend; it’s a shift.

A shift in technology is not new by any means. History has taught us lessons about technology. There are early adapters, mainstream adapters and latecomers. There are people that don’t show up at all. My teacher-friend was telling me how when using computers became mandatory at her school, a small amount of teachers declared their retirement. Computers seemed too complicated.

For the next generation computers became machines we understood, the Internet a wide cornucopia of information. The Internet is especially great because now if we have questions, we can just “Google” it. If we are okay with that we can walk ourselves through some of the most complicated processes using clearly written/demonstrated tutorials. We can teach ourselves more quickly about something than ever before. Better, too, everything is in a way, peer reviewed.

As designers, we are pushing our aesthetic on other people. This aesthetic is not only visual; it’s a logical aesthetic, too. We create systems in the way we think they should work. A new aesthetic is called progressive enhancement. It is forward thinking. A site that gives the basics to everyone, but extra features to members of the early adapters’ club.

The counterpart to progressive enhancement is called graceful degradation, catering to the lowest denominator. I don’t want to get too political, but the first example I could think of was the No Child Left Behind Act. Remember that piece of legislation? It mandated standardized testing for everyone but left the actual standard of education determined by each state. Graceful degradation is often meaning that everything you have should run an Internet Explorer browser. When that falls away, it will be something else that is less powerful that what is available. Why dig with a stick when you have a shovel?

This is the final part of the three parts of Erik Fadiman’s opening lecture. Some takeaways for Web Design:

  1. Simple is good (easy= good user experience)
  2. Be progressive (use up to date technology)
  3. Be accessible (SEO, and responsive design)
  4. Communicate your ideas well (semantic mark-up and presenting to your team, your boss, your client, etc.)
  5. Keep your file sizes down when possible (just because you can dream it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can do it… just yet.)

(Earlier Post Relating to This Project)


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