Ever since I started working with the web’s digital media I’ve been surprised by the lack of design. Not that there was no design, on the contrary, it’s just that it seemed to be driven by narrative and not also by functionality. Graphic designers and art directors still seem to have this skewed view of online media. The web, to this day, remains dominated by IT due to the amount of money needed to get projects realised. Many solutions found on the web are in concept driven by technology and not by narrative. Web design and web technology often don’t appear to be in balance. That is slowly changing because more budget is being made available to the front-end side of the business. This is in part due to the commoditization of basic web publication technologies and how users now use the Internet in a visceral way.
Each year we see web design becoming more and more important. Online Branding is coming of age, digital identities now also influence the brick and mortar identities. Online advertising expenditures are increasing at a staggering pace. This alone will change how sites are produced. Online design will become a integral part of products and services by becoming more and more cross medial and operating across platforms. Just look at what’s happening to the stymied world of TV, it is becoming a part of the online mix. TV shows are sometimes aired online first, writers are striking for a better online distribution deal and Apple TV brings YouTube, a purely online phenomenon, to your wide screen TV by taking your TV online. The massive increase of online communication will demand more quality design across the board. Consumers and corporations alike will expect it. Heck, even Dell is realising that design is something consumers value in their purchasing decisions. They have been forced to spruce up their products and identity after getting their ass kicked by other design savvy hardware vendors like Apple, Sony and even HP. Both Sony and Apple are well known for their design thinking that has helped them through tough times.
This upward trend of design focused products requires communication that reflects these values and visa versa. If a web sites aesthetic is lacking then so will the perception of the products and or services on offer. This of course has always been true. The difference now is that because the Internet over the years has become ubiquitous and very personal it’s aesthetic and user friendliness is of increased importance. IT will find itself under more scrutiny by designers and front-end will have more influence how sites are made. I for one am looking forward to 2008.