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What’s next for surfing the web?

What’s next for surfing the web?

Not so long ago the web was a wild, barren and alien landscape. We knew its potential and we knew we were excited by it, but we weren’t sure exactly how to make it look good. There were hindrances of course; slow dial-up modem speeds, and a limited choice of web-safe colours and fonts, were the thorn in the side of the web designer until relatively recently.

We now enjoy almost unlimited colour use, responsive layouts and web fonts. This enlarged tool kit gives us much greater control over the finished look of our sites. The BBC’s website, for example, was a distant cousin to its television channels in 1996; the general brand identity of the organisation simply couldn’t transfer to computer screens. Now, in 2013, the BBC is able to roll out its branding across all manner of media; television, cable/online television interfaces, websites, podcasts, smartphone apps and web applications. No doubt the organisation will feature a department dedicated to overseeing this visual branding to ensure consistency.

This consolidation of graphic design can be seen with the marketing of smartphone apps. The website will mirror the style and design conventions of the app in order to show off the ‘feel’ of the service instantly. The lines between media are blurring, and the print-web-television triangle of fifteen years has now been filled out into a circle, with the increments between smartphone, tablet, notebook, desktop , games console and television screen steadily getting smaller.

There is crossover and duplication of the tasks we perform and the devices we use. As technology improves the mainstream consumer will likely only expect to use tablets of varying sizes, for example a handheld tablet and one mounted on the wall, both able to perform the same functions. When this happens, as web designers we’ll need to be ready to move away from our once privileged position as lone-rangers with a key to an obscure medium, to prove ourselves as multimedia graphic designers, able to conceive, design and implement graphic design, regardless of the technology.

John Murray

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