Necessity, the mother of invention – and great web design!

Aug 25, 2021 by Ben Powell Category: Websites

Times, they are a changin’ – always and everywhere.

The saying goes, that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’; if that is true, then there are many examples where the unique demands of a problem precipitate the need for wider change.

Throughout history, the evolution of design has been driven by these demands, the pursuit of elegant, simplistic solutions driven to solve complex, functional criteria.

There is an evolution now in progress, specifically how humans relate and interface with contemporary technology. Users expect their experiences and interactions to be more entwined and visceral as an outcome of digitising their lives.

Frontend journeys and interactions in the post-app world will seek to merge and blur the lines of digital experiences even further.


How does this relate to design?

Technological and performance advancements have always preceded a leap forward in design, or at least the responses that good design will seek to reflect.

In the context of web design, Google’s latest algorithmic updates are widely regarded as some of the most progressive in recent times. Google’s page experience criteria broadly require more from a website’s performance capability, including efficient server technology and better economic use of system coding to deliver faster, fluid and intentionally better web experiences.

Google Page Experience

According to Google, “Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page.”

As of May 2021, page experience signals are going to be factored into Google’s search ranking algorithm. These signals are designed to measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a website, and further reinforce the need to offer users a good experience.

Summary changes/signals

We will go into some more depth regarding the page experience updates in another article, but for now, we want to look at the main signals as points of interest and how they will likely affect emerging design solutions.

Core web vitals

What does it mean for web design?

Ultimately, the changes will benefit the end-user, in spite of some inconveniences for webmasters and brands who are dismissive of the importance that these updates represent.

The updates will in time lead to better and more seamless browsing experiences, which cannot in our book be a bad thing. Web design itself will respond to the changes according to the conditions that are imposed on it.

It might be challenging in some ways – eg designers and developers will need to adopt a more economic, simplistic or straightforward approach to layouts and interfacing; compromising some of the page elements or behaviours that they would otherwise employ.

Businesses and brands may need to revisit their existing assets or consider if now is the time to finally push the button on that rebuild project that has been delayed or put off.

Arguably though, this has been the case for some time now in respect to a mobile-first approach and ‘dialling back’ has always been the response to maximising performance overhead from a design perspective.

It used to be all about security and responsiveness, what is it now?

An important thing to remember is that it is STILL also about security and responsiveness and we have been hovering at around 50% of web traffic coming from mobile since 2017 (Source:

You can see from the signals outlined above that the Core Web Vitals are an addition, not a replacement to make up the seven ranking factors; and Mobile Friendliness is still in there.

Contrary to the popular belief of some web designers, that responsiveness is now a given; according to a study by Canonicalized – up to 24% of the top million most popular websites are still not mobile-friendly and this incorporates overall responsiveness estimates.


What will emerge?

Effective design solutions will tackle the challenge head-on and adapt to a changing landscape; that arguably is the definition of good web design in a word – adaptability.

Some of the main points of design impact, considerations…

  • Speed & performance…
  • Page loaded assets…
  • Served media…
  • Frontend behaviours…

It’s yet to be determined what the new design trends or creative responses will be; Google page experience is yet to be rolled out, nor its’ impact felt. A continued emphasis of mobile-first / friendly design approaches, optimised tools and developing frontend solutions as well as stark scrutiny of headless CMS capabilities for smaller budgets would be our leading bets.

Do more with what you have

Designers and Developers alike will be taking a broad view on how best to optimise future websites and leaning into key areas and new technologies for ground-up solutions.

However, if the intention is to improve on your existing build(s), then our advice is to pick the low hanging fruit. Be methodical and honest !! when assessing your current position and focus on the 75% priority areas, where any optimisation efforts will have the most impact and protect your legacy investment.

We’ve inherited plenty of websites where performance factors had been overlooked, here’s a rundown of just some of the points worthy of discussion with your developers, the detail to which is too great to go into here:

Image optimisation review

  • Existing image and other resource optimisation
  • Web image formats in use
  • Asset delivery (eg CDN)

Server speed optimisation

  • Leveraging performance boosts for your products
  • Lowering performance overhead
  • Lean coding, compression, minifying and asset loading
  • Server performance development/investment
  • Page and database caching etc


The creative process remains an opportunity for your business and brand

You can’t redesign your website without reviewing your branding. This means understanding and communicating your positioning, competitive advantage, messages, written and illustrative style – in other words, your strategy. Your brand is an invocation of this. It communicates. It carries a ‘promise’.

But beware: unless you have something significantly different to communicate, do not change it! It takes years to build up brand equity, which can be destroyed instantly. So take the ‘conservative’ route: avoid change for change’s sake. Tweak it by all means, build on it and enhance it, but be careful not to lose all that added value, painstakingly acquired.

Designing your website is the best opportunity you have to enhance your brand. The design is key to this, and it is through the right design that you can develop the aspects of your brand that you want your market to notice. The implications of this are huge: it’s not just about communication, it also determines perceptions, responses and your success as a business.

Handy hints

Here we compile some of our favourite bits of advice to help you when choosing web design solutions for your brand.

Our web design, top five tips:

  1. Design a language:
    Good design is good communication. As with words, your design should be carefully considered to convey important information, it should also easily accommodate subtle changes over time.
  2. Design simple:
    A clever, complex design is only as strong as its’ simplest component. Historically, the most successful design solutions have been derived from clear and simple rules. Keep it simple!
  3. Design modular:
    Give your design a structural framework with modules that can be scaled, built upon and reconfigured at will.
  4. Design with evolution in mind:
    Strong web design, as with brand identity, is generally influenced by the past as well mindful of the future. It should always be adaptive to this end; for developing a lasting, rich and recognisable heritage.
  5. Design for tomorrow’s people:
    Jony Ive didn’t design Apple products for any existing market, he designed for the users of the future and therefore ensured longevity for the visual language he helped create.

For more information on how Marcom can assist with your web design and strategy, please contact us.

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