Why Is Web Design so Difficult?


Let me just say this... web design today is hard.

In the days before responsive design, it was common practise to design a website for a fixed size. As everyone was viewing websites on desktop screens, you'd pick a size which worked on the smallest screens (usually 960px wide) and for those viewing the site on bigger screens you'd just add a bunch of whitespace on either side.

These days it's much more difficult. Web pages are viewed on phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, TVs, games consoles and watches which all have different screen sizes and orientations. Unlike the fixed medium of print, web design involves thinking about how content will morph as the size of the canvas changes, how it will shrink, grow or alter to suit the device its being viewed on.

In short, we're designing for an unknown space.

Along with this we have to think about how our website will work with old and new browsers. Gone are the days where we could just slap on a 'best viewed in IE' sticker, now developers think carefully about how to build a site progressively so it not only utilises current cutting-edge technology but still provides a working experience for those still stuck in the dark ages. Unlike a computer game which is designed to work on a particular version of a console, we have to think about how a site will work in past, present and future browsers.

In short, we're designing for an unknown time.

Putting these things together and you can see that web design is a complicated process. We're creating a flexible system which is designed to work in any space and any time - and even Doctor Who struggles with that sometimes.