When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth
the straightjacket of technological constraints has given way to a dizzying array of possibilities
In the early days of the web, dialup speeds and “web safe” colors defined our design limitations. We spent less time thinking about what devices our visitors might be using to view our sites and more about trade-offs between image fidelity and kilobytes per second. Needless to say, much has changed in 20 years. With the modern proliferation of screen sizes, pixel densities, devices, and browsers the straightjacket of technological constraints has given way to a dizzying array of possibilities, all of which we’re expected to account for in our designs.
The “Average User” is Extinct
Our tools and processes still place approval of a fixed design comp ahead of implementation, because clients want to know what their sites are going to look like before they sign off on their construction. This is especially true in the entertainment industry, where image and branding is key. Yet as designers we know that a single Photoshop mockup is not going to be a perfect representation of the client’s own experience at launch, let alone that of their visitors. There are no more target demographics or safe assumptions.
a single Photoshop mockup is not going to be a perfect representation of the client’s own experience at launch
Do we pick a handful of popular formats and comp for each of them? No, obviously this is unsustainable. What was once a single change becomes three or five or ten, which multiplies our costs and stalls turnaround times. It also creates headaches in implementation. An elegant, concise, maintainable stylesheet should minimize the number of new rules at each breakpoint, but the best compromises between complexity and control often don’t present themselves at the conceptual phase. We want to put design first, but for the sake of our budgets (and our sanity) this can’t come at the cost of a whole new design and stylesheet for each layout.
In Part Two, we’ll take a look at some of the ways the industry has been tackling this rapidly evolving landscape in the present.
Categorised in: Blog
This post was written by Mad Dancer