How will smartphones, tablets and Facebook apps influence website UX design?


Steve Jobs’ decision to ban Flash from the iOS has had a significant and continuous impact. Web designers, including our own digital and creative staff, shun Flash-based designs for more device-friendly, keyword rich formats. Adobe, the maker of Flash, recently introduced Adobe Edge to create animation using HTML5 (the “Anti-Flash”) which promises to be the holy grail of online motion graphics and multimedia content.

But enough tech talk; what will the impact be from the breakneck growth of smartphones and tablets on “good, old-fashioned” website design? And why is this important to specialty brands?

I think the answer is that the intuitive simplicity of user interface design that we’re now seeing on smartphones and tablets will bring a long-overdue renaissance to website design, aided by device-agnostic technologies like HTML5. Whenever we do user experience (UX) testing on practically any website, people inevitably want the same thing: simplicity. By nature, many websites have gotten out of control with complexity, clutter and all of the other opposites of simplicity.

On the other hand, for small smartphone screens and the “touch to navigate” limitations of tablets the UX design by nature is generally simple and intuitive. Plus, limitations of how brand messages or shopping content can be presented using Facebook apps has a parallel effect on UX design in that context. Simple and intuitive: the two things that all consumers of digital content want, so they can get on to what they are there for: the content.

This evolution of web design is starting to happen, right on cue.

JC Penney Design
In the examples above, we see that the design limitations imposed by smartphones, tablets and Facebook pages are having an effect on user experience: simple, intuitive design. This is also starting to rub off on website design. Visit and see how navigating their website is more like navigating a mobile site than a traditional website.

For specialty brands, this kind of forward thinking is particularly important. Staying ahead of mass brands in the eyes of your most important consumers (category enthusiasts) is a big part of what will differentiate you in your niche. Specialty brands must be special in every way, and leading the pack in mobile app and website design are just two ways to deliver special user experiences to your customers and customers-to-be.

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