What Do We Need Web Standards For?
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What Do We Need Web Standards For?


When you sit down to build a new website, you probably have a strict process you follow with checklists for everything that needs to get done. But do those checklists include anything about web standards? And, if not, should they?

Today, we’re going to look at what web standards are, why we have them, and what you actually need to do with them as a web designer.

 

What Are Web Standards?

When we talk about web standards, what we’re referring to are formal specifications that the Internet and everything on it should adhere to. So, this is frequently less about how the frontend of a website appears and more about how the backend of it is structured.

Web standards aren’t just focused on web development either. They touch on browsers, HTTP, design and development software, as well as consumer devices. Essentially, web standards are developed and formalized to bring strength and consistency to the very core of the web. The more we adhere to these standards, the more accessible the web becomes for all.

Even if you’re not involved in the coding of your websites, you’re likely familiar with today’s web standards:

Valid HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Poorly written code can cause a lot of problems for the performance of a website, not to mention the bugs it can introduce. So, this was one of the first things we needed to get a handle on.

Since HTML, CSS, and JavaScript form the backbone of the web, there are strict standards pertaining to how they’re written and when they’re used. In addition, as variations of these languages enter the web’s lexicon — like HTML5 and CSS3 — standards are created for them as well.

By standardizing coding, we make it possible for all developers and designers to speak the same language, and for every web browser or software to comprehend them.

Graphics

This is an important one for web designers, though it’s not so much as a strict standard as a set of best practices for using graphics on the web. For example, this is what the W3C recommends:

  • PNG for photos;
  • SVG for data visualization;
  • CSS for enhancing basic HTML;
  • Canvas API for creating gradients, shapes, and other design effects;
  • WebCGM for vector graphics.

If you want your website to perform as efficiently as possible, it’s important to take recommendations like these seriously.

Mobile Responsiveness

With the proliferation of smart devices and the immense variation in the types of devices available, it’s become critical to have standards for the mobile web.

That said, standards bodies haven’t just standardized responsive design. They’ve also created a set of best practices for the mobile web.

Here’s an example of some of the mobile web standards we have:

W3C Mobile Roadmap

Guidelines aren’t just provided for design or tools used either. They also focus on things like processing payments, website security, and performance.

The best practices recommendations are just as in-depth and intense, too:

W3C Mobile Recommendations

Expect to see a greater focus on mobile web standards as more users flock to websites on their smart devices.

Web Architecture

This pertains to the way we structure information behind the scenes. So, standards have been drawn up for things like:

  • URLs and URIs;
  • XML;
  • HTTP and HTTPS;
  • Character sets;
  • Encoding.

By using standards for the way we label and identify parts of the web, it can become more global-friendly.

Accessibility

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is part of the larger World Wide Web Consortium (more on that below).

Web Accessibility Initiative

Unlike some of the other web standards mentioned here, standardizing accessibility is a big deal. As you can see in the screenshot above, it’s not just something that affects how web developers code or web designers create. It affects everyone who contributes to a website — writers, testers, project managers, policymakers, and so on.

W3C Accessibility Standards

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to accessibility standards. Suffice to say, if you’re building a website that aims to actively serve the public, then every one of these standards needs to become part of your workflow.

 

Where Do Web Standards Come From?

In the very early days of the web, the browser wars between Internet Explorer and Firefox was problematic. As they attempted to compete for greater market share, their technologies diverged wildly. If left to their own devices, those browsers could’ve done real damage to the Internet, causing a fractured experience from browser to browser, and website to website.

Tim Berners-Lee, the person who founded the world wide web, decided something needed to be done and, as a result, formed the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

W3C Web Standards

Since the founding of the W3C, it’s been the mission of this standards organization to establish universal standards that would allow the web to grow in a positive direction.

The W3C wasn’t the only standards organization trying to improve the Internet in the early days. The Web Standards Project arose in the ‘90s to provide support to the W3C. Its specific mission was to help make the web less costly and complex to build for and manage. Although it disbanded in 2013, it played a critical role in getting web browsers to support HTML 4 and XHTML.

Today, there are other standards organizations helping to bring order and control to the web. These are some of the bigger ones operating today:

  • Ecma has been around since the ‘60s. Its aim has been to standardize communication and information systems. It’s also responsible for developing ECMAScript, which standardized JavaScript.
  • Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is dedicated to strengthening the architecture of the Internet while creating a more open environment.
  • The WHATWG Community has developed a number of standards and non-standards around things like URLs, encoding, APIs, and coding.

These organizations — like the early creators of the web — aren’t in it to make money. Their sole aim is to create a free, open, and efficient Internet for every user.

 

What Do We Need Web Standards For?

Last but not least, let’s talk about the why.

As far as users are concerned, one of the biggest benefits to them is the predictability of the web.

That’s not to say that web standards will prohibit you from being creative in how you design a website. However, in terms of how it functions and how your visitors can interact with it, those elements should be consistent with the rest of the web. This creates a more inviting environment for users as it removes the struggle and confusion that comes with entering new territory.

As far as web designers are concerned, I think that’s been made clear by now. Not only does it help you work more efficiently, but it allows you to contribute to a better web — one that’s well-built and accessible for all.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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Popular design news of the week: March 30, 2020 – April 5, 2020
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Popular design news of the week: March 30, 2020 – April 5, 2020


Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

 

55+ Best Free Fonts

 

Colors.lol – Overly Descriptive Color Palettes

 

Reactive Resume: Free and Open-Source Resume Builder

 

Cross-Cultural Design: 4 Ways to Get Started

 

Productivity: The Ultimate Guide

 

Spicypass – Free and Open-Source Minimalist Password Manager

 

12+ Low-Code and No-Code Development Platforms

 

UX Myths to Forget in 2020

 

United Nations Issues an Open Brief to Designers to Help Fight Coronavirus

 

Best Infographic Makers in 2020

 

27 Best Movies & Documentaries for Creatives

 

6 Underestimated Soft Skills that will Make You a Better Designer

 

Design Trend: Mono Gradients

 

Not Safe for Design, a Creative Challenge Generator

 

Top 4 Tips on How to Build an Effective Design System

 

Social Distancing Logos are the Design Equivalent of ‘Thoughts and Prayers’

 

The Best Alternatives to Zoom for Videoconferencing

 

A Complete Guide to Wireframe Design

 

Top 5 Mockup Tools for Web Designers in 2020

 

A New Color Contrast Analyser that Suggests Better Colors

 

How to Build a Bad Design System

 

What Should You do When a Web Design Trend Becomes Too Popular?

 

How Organize your Text Styles in Sketch

 

Basecamp’s Jason Fried on the Learning Curve of Remote Work

 

How to Write UX Copy that Makes your Product a Joy to Use

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.



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Popular design news of the week: March 9, 2020 – March 15, 2020
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Popular design news of the week: March 9, 2020 – March 15, 2020


Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

 

51 CSS Background Patterns

 

The Worst Fonts Everyone Keeps Using

 

9 Ways Which Website Layouts Have Evolved

 

33 Examples of Highly Effective SaaS Website Designs

 

Website Redesign: Re-thinking Dark Mode

 

Setting Height and Width on Images is Important Again

 

Do Whatever You Can’t Stop Thinking About

 

Insanely Fast Redesign Exercises

 

9 Things that will Help You Become a Better UX/UI Designer

 

How I Made a 3D Game in Only 2KB of Javascript

 

Why Dark Mode Web Designs are Gaining Popularity?

 

Five Tips to Write More Accessible HTML

 

14 Best Adobe Font Pairings for Websites

 

5 Principles of Visual Design in UX

 

How to Find your Most Creative Time of Day, and Make it Count

 

Google Open Source Code Search

 

7 Steps to Creating a Spectacular UX Case Study

 

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

 

Brand Discovery: 10 Key Questions to Ask Clients Before You Start Designing

 

15 Free High-Resolution Illustrator Brush Packs

 

Basics Behind Color Theory for Web Designers

 

Creative Packaging Designs

 

CSS Mondrian

 

The Psychology of Color and Emotional Design

 

Breaking Down Persuasive Design Principles

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.



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5 Simple Responsive Blunders (And How To Avoid Them)
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5 Simple Responsive Blunders (And How To Avoid Them)


Nearly 49% of all the web traffic worldwide originates from mobile devices (excluding tablets). If you don’t design mobile-friendly websites, you’ll likely lose out on this massive chunk of your target audience. Additionally if you wish to improve your SEO, you can’t afford to ignore smartphones; Google gives priority to mobiles with mobile-first indexing.

All of this calls for responsive web design through which your website’s elements can adjust according to the screen dimensions. While creating your responsive design, you might end up making some common mistakes. To help you avoid them, we’ve put together some possible responsive design pitfalls and their solutions below.

 

1. Using Device Sizes as Breakpoints

According to OpenSignal, there were over 24,000 different Android devices in 2015; this number has increased in the past five years. As there are so many varieties device, the screen dimensions differ vastly too. To ensure that your website offers a seamless browsing experience on all devices, you need to get your breakpoints right. 

If you concentrate on just device size breakpoints in your responsive design, your website may not appear correctly on newer devices. Don’t restrict yourself to the dimensions of current devices for breakpoints. Instead, go for truly responsive designs that can adjust well on any screen size. 

If you concentrate on just device size breakpoints in your responsive design, your website may not appear correctly on newer devices

A great idea is to take up the mobile-first approach where you build your website for the smallest screens and then slowly scale it to larger screen sizes. If wearable devices are important for your website, you should start your designing with those instead. 

As you’re scaling up, your website design may start feeling strained. In such a situation, you can add media queries to it for making necessary changes. This will help your design remain comfortable at each step. You need to continue this process until you reach the largest screen sizes. Ideally, this would be up to 2800 pixels as most users have resolutions lower than this. 

Using this method, your breakpoints will be introduced only when they’re needed and not according to the device size. This can help you offer a seamless browsing experience to your visitors across all devices. You can use tools like LambdaTest or BrowserStack to check if your website renders well on new devices.

 

2. Not Considering File Sizes

Visual elements can make your website more attractive to users. However, you must be careful when you’re adding them to your website. They are typically larger than text files and can slow down your page loading speed. As your page loading time increases, so do your bounce rates. In fact, according to Akamai, the bounce rates increased by 6% when pages took 1.5 seconds more to load during the 2017 holiday season. 

It is thus necessary to optimize your images and videos to reduce their sizes. You could use tools like TinyPNG or  Compress JPEG to achieve this. If you’re a WordPress user, you can install the Smush plugin to get this work done for you. 

Minifying your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files can help as well. You should also consider browser caching, which can increase page loading speed for return visitors. Lastly, remove all unnecessary 3rd party tools and JavaScript dependencies. To check your current page loading speed and find possible solutions, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights. You could also use the Mobile Site Speed Tool from Google to see how quickly your website loads on mobiles.

 

3. Not Using Adaptive Image Management

While the file size of an image is important, so are its dimensions. You may not worry about using images of different dimensions in conventional website design. However, when it comes to responsive design, missing out on image management can be catastrophic for your user experience. The last thing you’d want your visitors seeing is huge images on a small screen.

To avoid this pitfall, you should use adaptive image management techniques. You could go for the following methods to achieve this:

  • Resolution-based selection: Provide the same image with different resolutions;
  • Device-pixel-ratio-based selection: Make the images appear crisp and reduce perceptible artifacts based on screen sizes;
  • Viewport-based selection: Vary images based on devices used and their orientation;
  • Art direction: Change or crop the image based on the display to improve its viewing experience.

 

4. Hiding Content

missing out on image management can be catastrophic for your user experience

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make while creating a responsive design of your website is that of hiding content. You might do so to fit your website on a smaller screen or to increase your page loading speed. However, you must avoid it at all costs. Remember, people aren’t coming to your website just to look for a small sample. They want the same browsing experience that they get on desktops.

Your goal should be to provide them with this omnichannel experience. This is necessary because many of them may be accessing your website from multiple devices during a day. That’s why you must ensure that you maintain consistency of content in responsive design. You can, of course, prioritize the content differently across devices through progressive enhancement.

 

5. Keeping Consistent Navigation

Giving a consistent browsing experience to your visitors across all devices is of the utmost importance. However, absolute consistency isn’t good either. One of the biggest mistakes you can commit while trying to do this is that of keeping consistent navigation across all screen sizes. 

When your screen size reduces, a consistent navigation bar may end up occupying half the screen and might spoil the browsing experience altogether. You should consider shrinking the navigation with the screen size and could change it to a hamburger menu.

 Along with your navigation, button sizes and visual layouts should not remain consistent either. However, typefaces, links, and color treatments should be consistent. 

 

Final Thoughts

If you wish to reach your entire target audience, you can’t avoid responsive design. However, you must be careful while implementing it and avoid all the possible errors. Give your visitors a consistent browsing experience across all devices and don’t hide any information from them. Optimize your file sizes to improve your page loading speed. Additionally, use adaptive image management techniques to reduce or increase the image dimensions according to the screen sizes. 

Don’t keep your navigation consistent as it may spoil the browsing experience. The same rule applies to buttons and visual layouts too. Lastly, go for truly responsive designs and don’t restrict yourself to design breakpoints based on current devices. The key is to go mobile-first when you’re designing your website.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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Growth Tip 010 – Use a Responsive Design / Mobile

Growth Tip 010 – Use a Responsive Design / Mobile

If you are not using a Responsive web design (RWD) for your business then you must !! Todays users are using several different ways to browse the internet . Gone are the old days where users where only using desktop computers to browse.

Now to provide the  optimal viewing experience for your users  on desktop,laptops,tablets or mobiles. It is imperative to have Responsive design for your website or other wise you are missing out on huge chunk of the population….