The rise of responsive design as an approach to web design in the last decade has shaped the ways that designers consider the web as a medium. As this approach has developed, its practitioners have begun forming patterns and templates which might limit alternative modes of thinking in the field. Criticism of this approach is still in its early stages, leaving open an opportunity for reflection, expansion, and the exploration of alternative modes of thinking and making for considering the medium. The web browser has properties which are inherently flexible, fluid, and adaptive—begging for a parallel exploration of flexible, fluid, adaptive systems as external inspiration for web design.
Nature has been considered as a form of inspiration throughout the history of the arts and design, providing analogical and metaphorical modes of thinking that expand upon traditional approaches. Biomimicry is an emerging practice within industrial design, architecture, and engineering—yet little has been discussed within the field of visual communication design, especially within responsive web design.¿
In this thesis, relationships shared by design and the natural world are investigated through secondary research, and critical making is used as primary research to examine the organic properties of the web browser. Three prototypes were designed to explore, expand, and reflect upon these organic properties within responsive design. Each prototype was subsequently reviewed by design educators and professionals. This thesis proposes that looking to nature’s principles and forms can inform design for the web as a medium, providing an approach which builds upon and extends the capacities of responsive web design.