Many people talk about making personal resolutions for the New Year, but as a stakeholder in your organization’s web presence, have you ever given any thought to making some resolutions for your website? The first of the year is always a good time to start fresh and renew our focus on those things within our influence and control.
They say to start a new habit takes about 16 weeks, so if we give up by March, we still have four more weeks to get our new practice into a set routine. Now that the holiday revelry is behind us, it’s time we turn our attention back to sharpening the saw and confronting the new horizons.
I’ve listed several topics to jumpstart your own website “resolutions.” Any of them could help you formulate a plan to improve or refresh your website design. The subjects include Responsive Web Design (RWD), Progressive Enhancement, Effective Design Principles, and Web Governance. I’ve covered all of these topics in more detail in the Web Designer blog.
Responsive Web Design (RWD)
Probably one of the biggest subjects of recent years is getting websites to be viewable on the plethora of mobile devices out today. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is making significant inroads at defining the technologies necessary to effectively display websites across all devices. A responsive website design starts with the primary task of incorporating CSS3, media queries, the @media rule, along with fluid grids that use percentages, EM’s, flexible images, flexible videos, and fluid type, which allows the responsive website to adapt its layout to the viewing device, user agent, and environment. (See my post, “How to get started with Responsive Web Design“.)
Progressive Enhancement is a web design strategy that fits in well with RWD in that it makes an effort to create websites that are accessible to all devices, using a layered approach with a set of core principals stressing accessibility of content and functionality. Progressive enhancement is the challenge response to a traditional web strategy known as “graceful degradation”, meaning that the website is designed for a particular browser technology, yet it would remain presentable or “degrade” even if older user agents were used.
Graceful degradation also assumes that the users just need to “upgrade” their browsers or technology, putting the focus on the end user and not the website.
Effective Design Principles
If you have taken formal courses or lessons in design, then you probably already know the fundamentals of effective design principles, including the four famous standards: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. Furthermore, if you’ve examined these standards, then you might also recall a special acronym associated with their combined initial letters that makes them easy to remember: CRAP. However, many have used alternatives that are not as degrading, yet are still easy to remember, like PARC and CARP. In any case, reviewing how your website does or does not incorporate these important design principles would be a good start for a revamp.
Web governance is not so much about contracts and third-party development firms as it is about the high-level decisions on website design that best presents your organization’s products, services, or mission.
Even if you only take on one of these subjects as a new web development project, your website will be on its way to a new and improved look, better access for visitors across multiple devices, and more page views. Make your plans now.