Cennydd Bowles - Designing for the Wider Web

On Friday evening the Rumblrs left the lab to catch Cennydd Bowles' presentation; 'Designing for the Wider Web.' Cennydd is a User Experience Designer, speaker and author of 'Undercover User Experience.'

The talk gave us a taste of what is to come in his new book, 'Designing for the Wider Web'. Cennydd put forward a compelling argument, based on why it is no longer acceptable for designers to make assumptions on the context a 'User' will browse a website (mobile or static) or the type of hardware they may be using. This is a quick note on some of the points I found particularly interesting.

Displays are more varied in physical size than at any point in the history of the web. Cennydd reminds us that there is no one popular screen size. Pixel dimensions range from 300px to 3000px, so fixed-width designs are no longer a viable option. In the 'Wider Web' there is more to consider than screen size, Orientation and Pixel density must also be figured into our designs.

Similarly, when it comes to Inputs we can't assume the user is equipped with a standard desktop keyboard and mouse. Trackpads, gesture sensitive screens, mobile keypads, soft keyboards, accelerometers and voice recognition must also be considered. With emerging inputs such as the 'Kinect', we as designers haven't scratched the surface of how they might be used to their full potential and enhance the user experience.

Another particularly interesting point with regards to emerging touch screen interfaces was made by Cennydd about how hand movements may obscure parts of our devices screen as we interact. This throws up another layer of design to consider when tasked with creating a highly accessible layout across multiple mediums.

Cennydd introduced the idea of designing for an Ecosystem of devices. The User Experience should not be ported from one device to another, but each should 'hang together' to create a rich cross-device experience, with full advantage being taken of each device's capabilities.

The presentation also highlighted a shift in mindset that is needed when it comes to design deliverables. Cennydd urges designers to take a more modular approach, giving the client the 'lego bricks' to put together their own website.

We're looking forward to reading more about Cennydd's 'Wider Web' in his forthcoming book due to be released this winter by Five Simple Steps. If you get the chance to see one of his upcoming talks do not pass it up.

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