With the introduction of CSS3 the web has been peppered with astonishing uses of the newest coding capabilities and they all feature movement. I think this is a game-changer for us graphic designers and it’s time we started to rethink our attitude to the web.
Recently a print-designer friend of mine admitted something I have felt for a while — that the future of graphic design is so wrapped up in code it would be silly not to look into. Now, I know what you’re thinking and this is not going to be one of those “come and join my coding cult” stories. Let me explain. I am fortunate to work somewhere in-between the world of coding and the design cosmos. It allows me to stay up-to-date with the latest possibilities in what the web can offer and helps me create designs that are better informed. Our latest web project though, has really opened our eyes to the possibilities of animation on the web. The web can create experiences that cannot be had anywhere else.
Until now, we’ve been relatively happy to think of websites as just another flat surface onto which we can translate our static printed material. But this won’t last for long. The web is evolving a new dimension that can help tell stories, form narrative and create 3D environments in a way that print cannot; and this means that as designers we need to expand our understanding of how we can evolve our clients brand onto a digital platform.
Now just to be clear, I’m not talking about a little bit of colour fading or simple hover effects. I’m talking about whole 3D environments and immersive narratives that can engage audiences. CSS3 is now capable of all sorts of animation, like this Spiderman story or this NASA project that tells a story. Consider this fantastic resume from Robby Leonardi and the importance technology played to inform his entire approach. Without the knowledge of new technology his work would have been entirely different and not half as engaging.
In the same way that a good record sleeve designer will consider the physicality of the materials he uses and not just the imagery on it’s surface – so too must we consider our websites to be capable of having this immersive dimension. This is a call to consider whether you really need to use that 12 column grid this time, or whether this particular project calls for something much more unorthodox.
This is important to us designers because it is not an afterthought. It’s an array of options that need to be considered early on in the design process which is likely to be counter intuitive for designers that are not accustomed to dealing with moving material. And the ramifications are endless. Imagine for example, how a tactile print technique, like a spot varnish, might be translated into a digital environment that is discovered over time. Pretty inspiring eh? There are so many inspiring sites out there. Please do share some with us in the comments below!