The future of website design

I often wonder where the web designing is heading. Web 1.0 or the first phase of web designing, or you may call it even the pre-bubble era, is almost gone. At least in the mainstream arena you don’t see those ugly websites with obtrusive popups, ugly banner ads and cryptic navigation schemas. We’re now amidst the mature phase of Web 2.0. Design is not the main obsession now, usability is.

As more and more people all over the world turn to the Internet for reference, entertainment and e-commerce, the focus of stress is continuously shifting towards the user, the person who is going to visit the website, use its content and transact business with the website’s owner. Design — in its much improved form — is still important, but usability and functionality precedes it. This trend is going to continue. With the arrival of Ajax we’ll see faster online applications with greater interactivity. Major websites like Gmail and Yahoo have already implemented Ajax and have made great strides towards improving their interfaces and considerably reducing server calls.

Most of the major browsers, including the notorious Internet Explorer, are eventually embracing web standards in rendering web pages. This is going to make life a lot easier for web designers who often pull their hair trying to make their web pages look the same in all browsers. While designing new websites the designers will have to keep in mind various devices people may use to access their websites. This entails developing websites that can be easily accessible through hand-held devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and pocket media viewers.

This brings me to the accessibility issue. With governments and search engines putting more and more emphasis on how accessible your website is, it is no longer going to be an option. In the hierarchy of web development and design aspects, accessibility is certainly going to manifest before the layout.

There is going to be a marked improvement in the markup as more and more developers and designers are eventually realizing the benefit of adhering to the W3C coding standards. Creating highly interactive websites is going to be a lot easier with the arrival of API’s (application programming interfaces) and SOAP. JavaScript libraries like Prototype, jQuery, script.aculo.us and JASON are going to make it possible for the web applications to behave more and more like desktop applications.

Bandwidth is improving but it is not conducive enough for high-end rich media websites. With faster access and lowering connectivity costs websites are going to be a lot more than web pages. Every web link will be an experience in itself.

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