By Derek Prospero – Bayshore Solutions’ Senior Designer
The ability to engage content—and not just read it—opens up new possibilities and approaches regarding its presentation. As websites become larger in their physical dimensions and deeper in their content, navigation becomes more important and complex. Information architecture is just one of the many sub-disciplines that web designers must embrace. This involves the constructing, categorizing and accenting of content based on similarities and importance. Traditional fields long studied under the umbrella of graphic or commercial design—such as color, composition, and typography—are important components of good interactive design. But adding to the complexity of designing for interaction are the options that such interaction affords us. For instance, unlike on paper, screen text can be enlarged for enhanced legibility. This is a common consideration that must be made in advance of a website’s layout to ensure that increasing the font size will not destroy other aspects of the design. Other examples include audio accessibility, varying screen resolutions and bandwidth speeds, and a growing list of Internet browsers which all render websites a little bit differently.
With little precedence to draw upon, where can web designers turn for inspiration? While other websites are an obvious choice, there are now other branches of interactive design that can provide great ideas. In today’s modern marketplace of high-definition discs and large-screen smart phones, there is no shortage of interface designs to observe. Interfaces are everywhere; at banks and airports, in video games and vending machines, across nations, languages and divides all over the world. More and more each day, web designers are presented with an ever-increasing gallery of work to study. In addition, there are tremendous design resources available in everyday items. Appliances, stereos, hardware, automotive; these items may not be interactive in the strictest digital sense, but they are products born from decades of expert design evolution. Often times even the most traditional application of design intuition can lend solid theories and inspiration for new media.
And at least one thing is certain: interactive design has only begun to take root in our society. As screens get bigger, thinner, more flexible and less power-consumptive, interfaces will continue to infiltrate nearly every facet of our daily lives. All of these interfaces will require careful design considerations and sensitivity, particularly when touch-screen and multi-sensory interfaces begin to mature and flourish. As our venues of business and entertainment converge, as television and Internet channels compete for our attention, and as mobility fast becomes the standard instead of the exception, design innovation will persist in demanding more from our interfaces, and their creators.