Recently, a few members of the BritWeb team had the privilege of attending the Talk Web Design conference in Greenwich, London. The variety of talks on offer not only shed light on emerging technical trends but offered plenty of insights into the perspective of websites from a clients point of view. Here’s our key learnings and takeaways from the day:
The importance of the initial scope
The first talk was lead by Kathleen Corr, a successful Digital Producer who’s role incorporates that of a production manager, account manager and project manager all in one. Kathleen highlighted the importance of any web project being correctly and thoroughly scoped at the concept creation level in order for web developers to manufacture the user journey and set a strong start and end point. Wireframes, extensive user testing and UI designs can help to determine if there are any streamlined changes one can make to improve the overall web experience before any final design is signed off. What’s more, Kathleen reminded us of the importance to use real content during the web build stage in order to determine any copy gaps or design changes that might be necessary.
Performance is key
Performance is a pretty big deal in the web right now as websites contend with users’ limited attention span and patience, Peter Gasston reminded us. One way of keeping their attention is via the use of Instant Apps that can be instantly opened from a web link without any installation. Performance is especially key as we see the ‘next billion’ users entering the web environment and using it in different ways. Messaging Apps (such as WeChat), Progressive Web Apps and other Meta Platforms are becoming the new web browsers as performance trumps flashy and clunky builds. However, this doesn’t mean that web is dead. In fact, although Apps do allow for greater repeat use, there’s no doubting that the web has a much greater reach for new potential clients and users.
Mike Brondbjerg, renowned creative developer, helped to show how data can be used in a creative and artistic way by producing specialist systems for drawing. By playing and editing code, you can represent information and data in a much more visually pleasing way; not only allowing your users to see things a little differently by incorporating facts and figures to”accidentally” come across effects in a stylistic way.
Hopes for layout techniques are now imminent as Flexbox, CSS Grid and Box Alignment become widely available. These updates are important as they’ll not only allow the web development industry to create grids and sections quickly to build frameworks faster but also allow us to easily switch and alter their position and order after build. According to Rachel Andrew, co-founder of Perch CMS, this will lead to a truly flexible, responsive site. Although these are still in prototype stage, they’ll soon be available to use widely and could potentially revolutionise how we build our sites.
The life of a contractor
Carolina Soto gave valuable insight into how her Contractor position works and revealed that there are benefits and negatives to working within an agency that have both short and long term projects on the go. She also touched upon the pitafalls of project management and overseeing handovers. Organisation is key, Carolina stated, and documenting all work is imperative especially in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
Give them what they need
Richard Rutter’s leading message was this: “Don’t give them what they want, give them what they need.” This could not ring truer; clients might know what they want from a website but do they know what they need? Who it’s for? What do we want them to do? To some, a rebuild simply means updating the look of a website but in reality, all pages and content should be scrutinised as well. Content audits will allow you to filter out any unused content to declutter the sitemap and checking your URLS against Analytics can help you see if a page is needed at all. Breadcrumbs and user testing can help to narrow down your research and keep your site simple and effective whilst speaking with your Customer Care team can shed light on where users are getting stuck or lost on your site. It’s important to not just focus on what’s wanted but rather what’s needed to make a site successful.
Using browsers to push data
Ben Foxall explained how using browsers to push data can help users to understand information much better than figures and charts alone. By converting these into visualised data, you could convert them into detailed example that anyone can relate to. Ben used the example of his running data; he was able to plot on a global map where he has run, the elevation points, his fastest time and most frequent routes as well as the time of year he was running the most and least. This presented the data in a much more interesting way than just bar charts and stats.
Breaking free from trends
What is your website and why do you want it to follow trends? Andy Clarke talked to us about why websites should break from tradition and current design trends and stand out from the crowd. By focusing on the small details, you can make a much more intuitive experience for your users; for example, by using negative space to draw users’ attention to certain areas on the site. It’s not about stuffing everything into one page: if you have a lot of content, take inspiration from comic books…of all places! By subtly playing with window or grid sizes, you can take control of the length and flow of a users journey through the website.
Perfection isn’t everything
Brenda Dawes, web designer, ended the day with a talk on the journey and process of web design. He highlighted that nothing ever starts off perfect and you rarely have what you envisioned at the start by the time you get to the completed stage…but that’s OK. By experimenting with the mundane, you can make anything come to life. Make things fun: your website doesn’t have to conform to a serious environment and even the simplest things can make a big difference to someone’s online experience.
It’s safe to say that the BritWeb team came away from the Talk Web Design event feeling enlightened, motivated and excited for all the new things to come for the world of the web. They brought home some words of wisdom about how we can help manage your websites even better and bring exciting new features to the forefront.
To find out more about BritWeb’s web design services, call us on 01403 261491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.