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A web aesthetic that reduces to plain text

Monday, 1 October, 2012

The Brighton-based interaction designer Paul Robert Lloyd is less than pleased with the current state of play and he makes his feelings known for A List Apart in The Web Aesthetic. One of Lloyd’s guiding principles is “progressive enhancement” and he expands upon the technique with the example of the BBC News mobile site. Snippet:

“The raw HTML source references just two images: the BBC logo, and an image for the main story,” he writes. “Every device receives this, and pages can weigh as little as 28kb — quite a feat in the world of 5Mb websites. When accessed on more powerful devices like newer smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers (those that can ‘cut the mustard’), an image is displayed for each story. These images have been deemed ‘nice to have’ — enhancements to the core experience that are conditionally requested after the basic page has loaded.”

BBC mobile

The aesthetic that Lloyd favours is one with “a stronger focus on content, a more fluid layout, and less intrusive navigation.” In this vision, progressive enhancement is balanced with a presentation form that can degrade down to plain text. The future web aesthetic, one feels, will be driven by devices that force form to follow function and the result will be more app-like interfaces.


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