It must be website redesign season…

A number of high profile UK websites have redesigned in the past few weeks — what common themes are holding them all together?

Sky News have relaunched their desktop offering today, bringing it much more in line with it’s mobile applications and bringing parity to the site served when you visit their site on a mobile browser.

There have been a number of high profile redesigns launched in the past few months — these have concentrated solely on UI and other key front-end factors.

Gumtree, Money Saving Expert, Sky News have all redesigned and they all exhibit similar themes. These broadly consist of:

Simplistic, grid based layouts: Grid based layouts were first seen and brought into the mainstream with Windows 8 and it’s (ultimately failed) grid based start menu. Pinterest did a lot to rescue this and we’re now seeing a more balanced interpretation of these layouts that introduce great user experiences and well thought out layouts.

Responsive is king: The differential between desktop and mobile layout are gradually merging. The amount of developers who I speak to who are moving to mobile first is increasing daily. The days of websites are thankfully going and it’s now seen as the norm to produce your website for viewing on the most used platforms. I also think it’s easier to scale up from mobile first — much easier than scaling down from a desktop first approach.

Flat design

Flat flat flat: The increased usage of CSS3 and the use of well known frameworks has pushed the acceptance of flat layouts almost to the point of normality. The days of the Apple inspired overuse of gradients with heavy drop shadows and skeuomorphic elements is disappearing rapidly. The introduction of Android’s new Material Design project is only going to help us see more of this trend.

Webfonts: Typography has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years. When Google offered free webfonts and browsers started supporting them it changed webdesign for good. Typography became more important than ever and we’re seeing ever better websites for it. The side benefit of this has been the complete acceptance of the replacement of PNG sprites for icons with webfonts such as FontAwesome giving us stylish icons that scale on all devices.

Abandonment of old versions of Internet Explorer: At last! Even taking a basic look at the source code shows that developers are no longer willing to support anything below IE9. Only basic information is presented to these users, and no doubt the Front End Developers are rejoicing at the news, as well as the clients who don’t now want to pay for double the development time. Even the big frameworks are dropping support for these outdated browsers.

I expect to see a lot more high profile relaunches soon. Development times have dropped rapidly and the agile approach to development is now an acceptable and worthwhile practice. Let’s see what the future holds.

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