The Future of Web Design?

I think what we all took away from the latest conference is that the Future of Web Design isn’t clear yet. It expanded on a conversation I had with a friend the other day where we decided that in the last few months web standards has hit a lull. During @media2005 everyone was so excited to be there talking shop and swapping ideas that we couldn’t wait to get back to our desks to put into practice what we’d been shown – zoom layouts, microformats, etc. But fast foward 2 years and there just isn’t anything to get our teeth into.

To continue the conference’s theme, I’m not going to be discussing the title of this post – instead I’ve written up the only notes that I took during the day (during @media I couldn’t keep up with the note taking, I really hope it will be similar this year).

10 8 Top tips for building web forms

This presentation was given by Ryan Singer from 37Signals and he should have been given a 40 minute slot instead of the 15 minutes he had. There were 10 tips, but these were the ones I thought were of most use:

  1. Make it easy

    It’s harder for users to come up with new information (i.e. usernames/password) than it is to write out factual information (i.e. name/address) – therefore put easy questions first to hook user.

  2. Make real-time suggestions for alternate inputs

    E.g. usernames “Perhaps try: emmasax99 or emmasax2007”.

  3. Only ask for smallest amount of information to get the user started

    Ask for extra details later within application.

  4. Make labels human friendly

    Don’t just use the column headings from the data table.

  5. Allow superfluous data in inputs and filter on the server side

    E.g. don’t make extra work for user – allow brackets and dashes in telephone numbers “(01483) 100-100”.

  6. Give examples next to inputs
  7. Don’t shout at users if they get a part of the form wrong

    Help them through it as though you were standing over them, i.e. “Please check item X” instead of “ERROR – incorrect telephone number format”.

  8. Make the sign-up email simple

    Put extra information within the application, i.e. within a welcome tab.

I think some people have lost their enthusiasm about the conference circuit but I’m still looking foward to @media2007 in a few months time – I want to be refreshed, taught and inspired!

2 comments on “The Future of Web Design?”

  1. I agree with you. The pace at which use of the internet has increased leads me to believe that we’ll have a whole new set of technologies to wrestle with in a 100 years’ time.

    Of course, many of the applications we are creating at the moment will become parts of greater applications that perform tasks for others. These in turn will perform automated tasks so that future users do not need to worry about the code for them (apart from the ones who consistently feel the urge to improve upon existing ideas). The future of the Web will evolve similarly to the technology of telling time. Like timepieces, which deliver information to people, the Web is ultimately a delivery medium: it delivers information, experiences and communication. And we are at a point where we are struggling to produce—relatively speaking—rather simple products.

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