This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration BradHallArt.com


Linear scroll design for web, tablets, and mobile devices

When the web was new, all page layouts were linear and scrolled. By that I mean that the text stretched all the way across the screen, filling up whatever size screen it displayed on. When the type got to the edge of the screen, it wrapped. If the screen size changed, there was never any danger of the information *going off of the edge*, it simply wrapped to accommodate the size of the screen. To read the page, you just scrolled down. If you have ever seen a old movie where an announcement is made in front of the king, you have seen someone using what was called a *scroll* - one long piece of paper that was unrolled as it was read.

When Graphic Designers started hijacking the web in the 90s, they rejected the idea of the scroll. They wanted a grid, like newspapers. So different ways were invented to make a web page look more like newspapers, and magazines. Tables, which had been included in HTML (the original language for the web), were used to create pages that didn't scroll, but were meant to be read left-to-right, in columns. This was an extremely clumsy and unreliable way to build web pages, but people did it. A few years ago, page divisions were introduced (divs) to do the same thing. Another clumsy attempt at making a web page look like a newspaper, or magazine. As computer screens got larger and larger, it became easier for people to read a web page that didn't scroll at all, that was basically horizontal, and when you got to the bottom, you clicked *next* to turn the page. In the classes that I taught on web design back at the turn of the century, I insisted that web pages be wider than they were tall, which was the fashion at the time.

Mobile devices and tablets are changing how we view web pages. We are back to scrolling. In spite of the fact that you can rotate most phones and tablets, most people are now viewing them on screens that are narrower than they are tall. And multi-column, newspaper-page style pages just don't work well on a scroll. What works well is linear design.

Linear design just means designing in a straight line - and in this case, down. If this frustrates you as a Graphic Designer, I understand, but hopefully this will make the days of the *jig-saw* puzzle web page, which was so difficult to use, go away. Presenting information clearly is what good Graphic Design is all about. Showing off *bells and whistles* and having a lot of distractions on the page is not good design. If you are a poor designer, than this step back to scrolling design will be too much for you. But other people will shine!

Hear ye! Hear ye! Web page design should ye scroll!