Websites, like works of art, are best at their most original form. But as templates continue to dominate the space, designers are left to wonder: how can we work to stop promoting the uniformity and unoriginality of templates?
Scalable design enables you to create for multiple screens from the get-go.
Scalable design offers a more open and collaborative process where designers no longer have to work in obscurity and can instead work alongside other team members to ensure that a website meets design expectations. In time, scalable design will change the way we build websites. Here's how:
Here are five ways scalable design will change the way we build websites.
1. A more personalized web
A profound shift is happening on the Web. From a focus on popularity and immediacy to a focus on relevance and personalization, people bring an infinite amount of ideas, motivations, and behaviors to their Internet experiences. Not only are these changing faster than ever before, but they are also evolving into areas that cannot be predicted. As a result, companies are shaping their offerings to be more relevant to their customers, but they are often building them on aging platforms that do not make personalization scalable.
In the early days of the Web, technology limited the amount of personalization that was possible. Templates are built for the masses, which means they cannot cater to every need of every customer and become dated quickly. Today, those limitations are peeling away. Design system solutions make it possible to deliver individualized experiences to everyone at scale. This individuality requires a whole new approach that does not involve cramming content into containers, but rather understanding the purpose and intention of the content and shaping the design around that. It requires letting algorithms produce the variations and letting the humans direct the art in order to reflect the unbelievable diversity of the Internet.
2. Minimum input, maximum output
A website is the vehicle that people, like small business owners or artisans, use to communicate and execute their vision, product, or service. But the production of a website is just the beginning of the process, and must continue to reflect the evolving needs of both its creator and its users. While templates require industry-specific knowledge to adapt to each person's needs, scalable designs are already 80% of the way there.
Scalable design breaks up constituent parts to make the design process more accessible.
Scalable design breaks down and compartmentalizes the fundamentals of a traditional template into its core elements. These distinct components can be developed in isolation and reintroduced into the master design system with minimum disruption to the overall project. For example, a design system's typography can be extracted for refinement, exploration, and improvement. Once the new system is completed, it can be introduced back to the master design system without the need to incrementally update hundreds, if not thousands, of mockups, prototypes, or pages. Core changes ripple through the entire site to make it more purposeful, consistent and effective. Furthermore, this compartmentalized approach enables scalable design to deliver varied results for typography, layout, color, and other components to better fit the the dynamic needs of each customer. Compartmentalization turns small contributions into large-scale, impactful improvements.
3. Remove the barriers of entry
Templates have made web design more accessible to people with no web design experience by removing many barriers to entry. Now, scalable design represents the next step in that evolution by forging a closer synergy between formerly segmented design and development teams. Removing the old chain-of-command approach allows all team members to contribute, encouraging greater collaboration at every level. The result is that production teams are able to operate with less uncertainty and fewer distractions to minimize unnecessary iterating.
This, in turn, allows customers, clients, and stakeholders to focus on what is important to them rather than operate under the arbitrary limitations of old templates that force them into certain alignments or content. This increases satisfaction at all levels.
Extracting core design fundamentals also focuses on the right elements within the right contexts to improve every possible content narrative. Design systems marry the two, which also means that feedback and progress is more focused, more efficient and effective. It allows for better art direction that will result in better, higher-quality results while removing steep learning curves in design or code. This brings us closer to design as a solution, rather than a hindrance.
Enter a caption (optional) Scalable design lets websites evolve with content changes.
4. Evolving solutions
Templates are static. They do not grow or evolve with their owners or adapt to content. Changes are almost impossible to make without a massive investment of time and money. Scalable design provides a layer of abstraction that creates a safety net from static solutions. The core fundamentals can be repurposed, reimagined, and redelivered independently from today's "best practices" and then introduced again as more refined and relevant elements that create a more up-to-date, flexible website.
In addition, due to scalable design's compartmentalization of design elements, the opportunity to evolve is constant. For example, elegant solutions for animation rules within a website can easily be shared, forked, and refined through a master scalable design portfolio. This approach not only meets the needs of any one anticipated audience, but also for those audiences not yet anticipated.
5. Not just for the select few
At it's heart, scalable design is an invitation for more people to get involved and make meaningful contributions no matter their technical aptitude. It allows people who were once hindered by the "what" and "how" of design to shape the "why" by promoting individual contributions on their merit and strength. As a vehicle for communication that provides clarity and focus to the work from the people who make the biggest impact. They translate process, production, and intention into an understandable, accessible format.
Furthermore, scalable design eliminates silos that exist in vision, design, art, and craft. It removes inefficient segmentation of the production process, facilitating worthwhile collaboration that benefits entire projects and teams. Accessible scalable design opens the door for anyone to create smart, adaptive and powerful websites, no matter how advanced or rudimentary their understanding of technical languages or design principals. Now every team member can contribute to the design process, making the final product even better.
What are your thoughts? What experience have you had with scalable design? Please share in the comments.