The web, and technology devices in general, are constantly changing, and it’s hard (even if you’re a seasoned “Googler” like me) to keep up with all the latest developments.
It is wearable devices like Google Glass and Pebble which are set to be all the rage this year, and who’d have thought just a few years ago, that we’d now be considering walking around with a computer on our head. However, a recent white paper from Merge, a Digital Strategy Agency (Merge White Paper: Web Design Trends for 2014 and Beyond) came up with two interesting observations for web design trends in 2014. Keep these trends in mind as you use technology in your classrooms: Simple is good. Interactive is good.
The first is simplified design. The white paper mentions that “we will see design continue to be simplified with single page websites, flat design, fixed headers and minimalism overall, powered partly by the necessity of mobile requirements and partly by what the consumers want (as evidenced by the simple elegance of the iPhone and Windows 8 UI design)”.
In a world where new technology is forever pushing the boundaries of design, it seems that actually, what we’re now doing is stripping back the complicated elements, and following the golden rule of simplicity.
Some of the advantages of simple web design, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality, include: the website is easier to navigate; important content can take centre stage (and isn’t lost in the background); simple code is easier to debug; and the website will load faster.
So what does this mean for students, and how we teach web design in the classroom? It means that students should consider less complex web designs and instead of asking themselves what’s missing in a design, they should perhaps ask themselves what could in fact be taken away.
They can play around with the concept of a single page website, where all the content lives on a single web page. An example of an accomplished single page website is Milk and Pixels, a designer of web applications: http://milkandpixels.com.
They can have a go at flat design, where there are no shadows, reflections or beveled edges. They could consider why some pages have fixed headers, where the user can scroll through a page and its content, yet still see the header even if they are at the bottom of the page.
In this way, post web design project, students can consider whether each and every element on their own web pages are really needed. A simple design can (arguably) leave more time for creative thinking in regards to each and every one of the elements on each page.
The second interesting observation for web design trends in 2014 according to Merge’s white paper was “Interactive Infographics”. Infographics have taken the digital world by storm and have become a popular way to take data and present it in a visual, colorful and clear way.
There are a number of tools out there that allow you to make your graphics interactive. You can use them to create scrolling effects, mouseover effects, or allow users to enter some of their own information to make the data more personalized and useful to them! These types of features do take a little more time and effort than static images, but the end result can be much more exciting and motivating for the student!