As we look to 2012 and what we expect for web design, we see a lot of similar ideas working together towards creating a more user-friendly, simplistic approach towards designing websites. This is a good thing, because excellent websites need to be fully functional for them to actually be useful.

Overall Focus on Mobile 

A report from financial advisor Morgan Stanley says that mobile usage will overtake desktop usage this year. Graphic courtesy of DBS>Interactive

According to a report from the financial advising company Morgan Stanley, mobile browsing has been lagging behind desktop and notebook browsing since it became possible to check the Internet on smartphones. Their study predicts this will flip in 2012 as the number of smartphones being used to access the Internet will overtake the number of desktop/laptop users. These estimates are based on the Global Unit Shipments of Desktop PCs and Notebook PCs vs. Smartphones.

It no longer makes sense for web designers to ignore the mobile device user as an extravagance or anomaly. Instead, that user will become the norm. We see this already happening … and continuing in two ways:

More Responsive Design 

Like “Universal Design” in home construction, we believe that there will soon be a time when “Responsive Design” is simply done, and it won’t be necessary to talk about it as a concept.

RD is creating websites that can adapt to any device, be it a desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet or even smartphone. A website that takes Responsive Design into consideration will look essentially the same between devices instead of beautiful on one and wonky on another.

Do we think that 2012 is the year when Responsive Design will be second nature? Probably not. But developers and designers will make great strides in that direction.

Different Whiz Bang Tools 

We’ve rarely used Flash on our websites at The Belford Group, and it’s being used less and less as a design tool. While pretty cool, Flash creates sites that can take too long to load or don’t load properly on some devices. The biggest problem is for mobile device users.

With the development of HTML5 and CSS3, web developers are able to offer animation and other whiz bang features without all the clunkiness and breakdowns that Flash tends to cause. There’s also jQuery, which is what we commonly use for photo rotators, etc. on our sites instead of Flash.

All the news about these developments came at the end of 2011, and we see developers really taking advantage of these benefits, which will lead to more companies wanting their websites that do have Flash (and the ensuing problems) to be redone using the improved coding.

Simplifying and Revving It Up 

Okay, we’re the first to admit that subhead sounds like we can’t make up our minds. Hear us out! What we’re seeing is clients moving in one of two directions: either deciding to create simple, straight-forward sites (usually on WordPress as a content management system); or taking their existing standard site and asking us to take it to the next level of more content, extra features and better search engine optimization.
The first approach is for companies that know they need a web presence but are finding the simplistic, more affordable approach is the best way to start. Having even a simple website is preferable to having no website at all and gives the client the opportunity to expand later.

The second approach is from clients who already have a website and want to focus their efforts on expanding their business using online methods. Many of them have experienced the value of their website to their business or are moving parts of their business online, so the enhanced website is essential to growing their business.

Either way, it shows that the digital world is definitely influencing the way we do business.

Need Help?

The Belford Group is an experienced image-building marketing and website development agency with more than a decade spent providing creative marketing and advertising solutions to fit any budget …and any medium. Our portfolio is filled with websites for various industries, using different styles and management systems.

Call us. We’d love to hear from you.