Recently a friend of mine mentioned that my own website shows some problems on his mobile phone. As it was fully responsive before, it seems that an update of the parent theme had some unexpected effects on the layout that were not covered by the child theme. Anyway – my website was three years old, time for a change.
Responsive web design today isn’t limited to a few well-defined device widths of mobile phones, tablets and desktops. You never know if your website will be presented on the tiny display of a smart watch or on the huge screen on the airport. Being prepared for every use case means thinking in terms of infinite grids covering every possible dimension.
It seems that this requirement has some unfortunate effects on the current state of web design: websites nowadays tend to look all the same – at least if you look at mainstream layouts. On devices with small screens, a single column layout is mandatory, on top you’ve get the ubiquitous hamburger menu icon, hiding the navigation – all websites have the same appearance, informed by the mobile-first approach, common app design and usability studies.
On larger screen sizes, the navigation expands to a usually horizontal menu bar, full-width images on top with parallax effect. You get the picture. Expect that the hamburger menu will be replaced or supplemented by “MENU” around the word, and commemorate the notorious image sliders that have fallen into disgrace recently. Web designers believe in usability studies and efficiency more than creativity, despite the fact that they now have the tools and techniques to push the web beyond the boring uniformity. Your clients don’t know what’s possible until you show it to them.
I’m guilty of this type of risk-free approach myself, but starting with the redesign of my own website I promise to try out new things more actively.