Year on year we see new developments in the world of web design so what’s on the agenda for web designers in Northern Ireland in 2011? Here’s a few thoughts:
1. Mobile Web – as our recent m-commerce article illustrated, mobile commerce is on the rise. This is a subject that has been on the radar of web designers for the last few years. In the future, web designers will be spending more time developing mobile device applications and interfaces. Mobile web is not high on the agenda for all website owners at present but e-commerce sites like Amazon value its importance. Over time, more companies will begin to recognise the rewards of making their sites more user-friendly for mobile device users.
2. Tablet Usage – this has become more popular since the launch of Apple’s tablet computer, the Apple iPad. The option to view both horizontally and vertically presents a new challenge for our web designers worldwide, who may need to consider designing two completely different layouts for each site. Websites with a width larger than the iPad screen resolution will be scaled down and zoomable. Web designers are advised to design for a 960 pixels layout. They may also have to consider designing simplified websites that are easier to navigate as tablet computers are primarily touchscreen devices. They need larger clickable areas suitable for fingers, and spacing between clickable areas so that only one can be touched at a time. This typically results in the use of larger text and the use of buttons over text links. The iPad runs Safari browser which doesn’t support plug-ins to be installed on this device. CSS3 and HTML5 are likely to remain the norm for developing page layouts for the iPad.
3. HTML5 – Northern Ireland’s web design community will be getting to grips with HTML5 in 2011. HTML5 recognises that web pages have a structure, with navigation, body content, sidebar content, headers, footers and so on. The updated system has created tags to support these elements of the page, adding a lot of great new features to web pages and web design. Microsoft has stated that they will begin supporting at least portions of HTML 5 in IE 8. If you want to get started sooner, Opera has had the best support, with Safari close behind.
4. Web Fonts – The most supported fonts in web design were typically those installed on the largest amount of machines but with so many different operating systems available it’s difficult for web designers to use custom fonts since they won’t render properly in environments without a copy of the file itself. An option for developers is to ignore physical fonts and work within an online directory. With cloud computing roaring in popularity we have seen larger developments unfold such as Google code web fonts.