The future of web and UI design

Web designers have historically had to work within a tight set of restrictions. Computer’s were restricted to 256 colours, with only 216 consistent across Macs and PCs; Keyboards and mice were the only input devices used for navigation, and; Users generally only accessed content sitting at a desk — either at work or home with a monitor. All of those restrictions no longer apply; designers aren’t limited to the same set of strict rules. Users access sites from TVs, phone, tablets, laptops and other devices, all from a variety of locations. They expect a consistent experience and web designers are now asked to work across these multiple platforms so it’s crucial to create an adaptable set of visual design rules that can be implemented.

Many websites fail now that they are being accessed on mobile screens with touch inputs; or viewed on a TV with a remote control. So I’ve been investigating the future for interface design to ensure concepts for visual languages we’re developing now will work when they are live. Here are some of the more interesting findings:

TAT published a concept video late last year exploring the future of screen experiences, looking at technologies such as dual, malleable, e-ink and holographic screens:

Syzygy Lab have a TV experience concept that explores using a combination of devices while watching TV to bring personalisation:

Notion have also explored a similar concept; using an iPad while watching TV. Their execution perhaps isn’t as nice but still serves to re-enforce the concept of multi-device usage from the living room.

IDEO have created this concept for the future of self service banking, including a rich touch screen interface:

Greg Kaufman has created a digital DJ table using a multi-touch screen that mimics real turntables. There’s definitely a movement towards blurring the lines between digital and real.

There’s also interesting research from Microsoft on Mobile Surface devices; perhaps more interesting is the idea of using the body as an input surface with Skinput, and it’s associated interface design restrictions.

Mozilla Labs have also explored projected user interfaces with their Seabird project.

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