I enjoy making 'stuff' and eating tacos.

Hi Resolutions

Jan 11th, 2016

With the New Year well underway it’s a good idea for everyone to start getting their resolutions in order. As well as my own personal life-improvement promises – read more books, keep a better eye on my finances, call mum more often, that kind of thing – it’s important to reflect on the current state of web design practices and recognise what’s working and what’s not. So here’s a short list of design resolutions for 2016.

  1. Don’t begin webpages with carousels
    There are countless studies on the effectiveness of paginated introductory image panels and they all result in disappointing levels of user interaction. Mobile devices are now dominating the internet, the concept of a ‘fold’ is no longer easy to define and the most common behaviour found when a user reaches a page is that they scroll… immediately. Instead of a carousel, use the space as an effective introduction to the site and to give the user a clear action – or choice of actions – to perform; after all, they are probably on your site for a reason.
  2. Take advantage of material design
    Google’s development of this well thought through design language doesn’t just unite all their own products, but offers effective solutions to common design problems that crop up in today’s digital landscape. Learning from the principles and techniques documented in their ‘living spec’ allows you to tap into the results of extensive research, testing and innovation, the likes of which most of us will never get the chance to do ourselves. At the very least, reading through the comprehensive and highly detailed documentation should serve as pretty strong inspirational material (excuse the pun).
  3. Draw more
    This one stems from a personal resolution I made last year which regretfully never spilled over into my work. Drawing, sketching, doodling, scribbling… it’s the best and quickest way to make ‘notes’, to test ‘things’ and to explain ‘stuff’. In all seriousness, this resolution is more about taking much of my design process offline – especially at the beginning of a project. Although there are great prototyping, mind-mapping and wireframing tools available, the first steps should always be pen and paper based. Besides, messing about with sketchpads, flipcharts, post-it notes and coloured Sharpies is a lot more fun than sitting at a computer any day. Especially when someone uses permanent pen on the office whiteboard. Not naming names. 
  4. Remember, print is not dead
    One of the biggest differences between Front Page and my previous place of work is the amount of print design that goes on here. This means there’s a whole group of people around me with years of experience in an area where I have very little. With this comes a rather convenient opportunity to tap into that knowledge and learn a thing or two about a thing or two. Being part of Poster Project for over a year now has taught me a great deal about print design and that alone has improved my approach to digital design enormously. So this year, I intend to annoy as many talented print designers as possible in a bid to extract as much of their power as I can.
  5. Be playful
    This never used to be something I needed to tell myself as I’ve always approached design with a very playful attitude, an open mind, and an eagerness to try stupid stuff. As I’ve aged I feel ’playing it safe’ or ‘sensible’ might have become more common themes and I’m beginning to think a fun-injection might be needed before any real damage is done to my creative spark (the flux-capacitor inside all designers).

I’m only too aware that New Year’s resolutions often go unkept, but I think these are all simple enough to implement with ease and I’m confident they’ll make a positive difference to the year ahead. If I manage to stick to them, that is…

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