iPad\'s impact on web-design

Digital creativity blog by Flow Bohl, 24.3.2010

Most reviews on the internet comment that the iPad is a piece of crap. I will refrain from comments about the product itself as I didn't buy one and don't intend to do so in the near future. However it's undeniable that touch-screens and the web's accessibility outside our home or work-computers are on the rise.

Reading about how the iPad might change the way we connect to the web made me curious to find out more. It creates challenges for designers having to re-think their past approaches in every aspect. There are two major elements to be considered. The technological and the visual.

The iPhone was the first popular phone with a fairly big screen making mobile Internet attractive. Bigger devices such as the iPad and the HP Touchsmart are also using fingers instead of the good old keyboard and mouse for navigating through digital contents. Visually this means buttons have to be designed bigger to be touched more easily.

On the technological side there is an ongoing resistance of Apple using Flash, which makes front-end developers resort to HTML5 for implementing interactive designs into interfaces. It also has advantages for SEO and code transparency. The biggest difficulty however remains the fact that you can rotate the screen from vertical to horizontal view. Developers and designers will either have to create two versions that are displayed alternatively or one 'floating' version that adapts itself to the display settings. The latter would be the least desirable solution from a usability perspective.

In the near future two platforms will predominantly provide online contents. One that's accessible to mobile devices and computers using touch-screens and another for 'traditional' use. The basic principles of design will not be challenged through new devices such as the iPad but our understanding of accessibility, usability and technology implementation will further evolve.

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