The web as I want it!

A responsive web site shown on different devices.

Responsive web site design

Just a few days before the turn of the year and I was bombarded in my social media and feed reader streams with articles about the things to wait in technology for the next year. Well… this year.

I will concentrate on a few of them that focus on trends to expect for 2013 in web design and I will give a sample of the articles I’ve seen. The next web presented 10 web design trends you can expect to see in 2013 in their article. Mashable, also presented a number of trends you should keep an eye on. The smashing hub presented 6 design trend expected fro 2013. I won’t continue with the list but as you can see from the small sample there is a common and usually number one trend in all articles.  Yes… if you are thinking responsive web design you are correct! The reasons are very well explained in articles such as this one from mashable and in a very informative infographic from uberflip you can find here. Too cut a long story short we see that tablet sells are growing, mobile internet access is also increasing with amazing pace so where there is demand there is response. And the response in this case is responsive web design.

Responsive web design is when a page is designed so that it responds and adjusts it’s layout and presentation according to the device it is presented. So the same web site might look different on a mobile device, on a tablet, on a big desktop screen or in your new smart TV. The technical details behind it are based on what we call CSS and media queries. Too put it simply, designers have today a ton of tools allowing them to easily decide how a web page will look like in different devices and enhance all these different presentations in a common set of presentation rules that are followed depending on the device. So, we look at essentially the same page but the device (actually the browser on the device) decides based on its characteristics on how it will present it.

Responsive web design is really going to explode and it’s true that it is a trend not to miss if you are on the job of web design. However, looking a bit further in the future it might also be a precursor to a newer and even more advanced responsive web design trend that it could appear in some years. Confused? I would be.! Responsive design now is all about the device. Browsers detect the device characteristics and based on them and the set of rules provided by the designer they decide on how to present the web page. But.. what about the user and the context of usage? Can devices know who is using them? When? Where? How? Under which conditions? If you think of it our mobile devices know already much of that information. They know when, where (GPS) and probably some of the conditions (light, sound, speed etc.). But what do they really know about us? The users. Do they know if we are blind? wear glasses? use a hearing aid? are color blind? have dexterity problems? are dyslexic?… and the list goes on!

So let’s assume that in 3 to 4 years time we will be able to describe a user and his/her characteristics on a common, standardized machine understandable way. Devices then will be able to reason on that information to understand our needs. This user profiles could be stored on our devices, on the cloud or anywhere safe and used by the browser to adjust presentation not only based on the device but on the combination of device, user and context!   Why not then have an extension of the existing presentation rules we use for responsive web design? Why not then have another ton of tools that will auto-magically produce a set of different presentations for various groups of users? Why not then have the next generation of responsive web sites?

So, I hope that when in 3-4 years time read on the trends for 2016 or 17 I will see as a major trend the responsive web v.2… or even better the web as I want it!

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