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What do wearables mean for Designers and Developers?


With the launch of the Apple Watch, talk of wearables is everywhere. We all know what wearables are (basically technology that can be worn, most commonly as wristwear or glasses) but do we know what effect it will have on web design?

A recent report from Pew Research Center Internet Project indicates that 83% of industry experts believe that wearable technology will see huge growth within the next 10 years. This means that users will be accessing websites from various platforms, not just desktops and mobile devices.

And as more people start to embrace wearables, companies and designers will need to be prepared by making their content accessible on all sorts of different devices. Those that are unprepared will find customers simply going elsewhere to find what they need (just as they do now with sites that are not responsive.)

All the prime functions of wearable technology are already in place: browsing, social media, instant messaging, camera, video and apps, but this is just the start.

Whatever wearables bring us in the future, there are 5 elements that experts agree designers will need to consider:

1. Responsivity

Designing for desktop or mobile first will soon be a very outdated argument. We need to be thinking much more fluidly than before and any website that isn’t responsive won’t cut it on the massive range of devices available.

2. Speed

One of the main benefits to wearable technology is the ease to access information.

Content needs to be instant and designs need to be quick loading.

3. Simplicity

Smaller screen sizes will cause designers to streamline and ruthlessly edit all superfluous content. Minimal design will be a necessity.

4. Text size

Font sizes will have to increase to allow for smaller screen sizes. Content is king, but only if you can read it.

5. UX

Understanding your user is key to how you design and display information. Thinking about why and in what format a user views information will determine the success of a website.

As Aidan Hall, Head of UX at Tomtom Sport tells us, “One of the fun challenges our designers have to face when they join the team is working with screens that are 144x168 and 1-bit. Making informative, delightful experiences using only black or white pixels on a tiny screen is challenging; but limitations bring out the best in great designers.”

Designing for wearables may still feel like something to worry about in the distant future, but consider the trend for UX and Responsive Design. From a user perspective, these are now both essential and expected when browsing the web, therefore the individuals and companies that got in on the trend early are the ones that are cashing in now.

So ask yourself, do you want to be an early adopter or do you want to play catch up once wearables go mainstream?

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