The actual title of the article I am referring to above is 7 future web design trends, by Jowita Ziobro. The trends are on target and the examples are clear. Worth a read.

But what struck me is that the post is a reminder that the way to look at planning and development of web and mobile applications is to focus on the ‘and’. Too much of the discussion is about the limitations of web or mobile or which should come first – a sometimes necessary short term choice but not a strategy. Jowita’s larger point is that from a design point of view web and mobile are converging. The post also suggests functional convergence.

Design convergence

Jowita’s first trend, “Gestures are the new clicks”, provides one example:

We forget how hard scrolling webpages used to be. Most users would painstakingly move their mouse to the right edge of the screen, to use something ancient called a ‘scrollbar’…

In 2015 it’s far easier to scroll than it is to click. On mobile, you can scroll wildly with your thumb. To click on a precise target is actually more difficult — the complete opposite of what we’re used to on the desktop.

As a result, we should expect more and more websites to be built around scrolling first, and clicking second. And of course, that’s exactly what we’ve seen everywhere…

There’s every reason to expect this trend to continue as mobile takes over more of the market. Modern sites have fewer things to click, and much more scrolling. We’ll see fewer links, more buttons, bigger ‘clickable’ areas, and taller pages that expect to be scrolled.

So mobile is changing web design for the better, and not only because of the consistency of the UX but because it is offers improvements.

Functional convergence

Mobile is also learning from the web. Mobile apps are either constrained by limited access to their own data and content, need custom deep linking to code to access other apps data, or need to exit to the web via a web browser. Whether the app uses a lightweight custom browser built for the app or one of the mainstream browsers the UX often suffers. The limited linking of mobile apps is a significant functional constraint, especially for enterprise apps.

Apple and Google are each interested in the health of both the web and their own mobile ecosystems and are both advancing deep linking to address data and content access. This will be a little wild-westy for awhile but the direction is clear.

Jowita’s sixth trend, “Components are the new frameworks” is relevant to design and function:

Web technology continues to get more complicated, and less semantic. Designers must embed messy code onto their pages for simple tasks, like including Google Analytics or a Facebook Like button. It would be a lot easier if we could just write something like this instead:

<google-analytics key=”UA-12345–678″>

And we can with Web Components, which aren’t quite ready to be used by most designers yet. 2015 is looking like their year.

Google’s Material design is here, and it may just be what gets this movement started. Powered by Polymer, and supported by all modern browsers, it provides the rich animation and interaction components from Android apps, with simple tags…

Apple’s newly announced Safari View Controller for iOS 9 ups the ante for mobile browsers by providing developers access to Safari code making it much easier to access the web from mobile apps. Developers can still build their own for specific design or functional reasons if they need to. See iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The Future of Web Views.

Jowita ends with:

Right now you see the best of mobile app design appearing in web design. With enough time, the difference between an app and a website might almost entirely disappear.

Optimistic perhaps, but there is a trend to root for here. And a perspective to be embraced for a superior UX.

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