The design world is constantly changing. The trends it follows are usually related to people’s preferences, but in the case of web design, they are also related to advances in technology, especially in its early days. In the present day, web design is beyond important. It has impact everywhere – be it simply navigating through social media or when a brand needs to cause an impression on its audience. For the latter, no better way than trusting in the professionals – click here for that!
So, let’s take a look at how much web design has changed over the years and its trends.
The Internet was officially invented by the physicist Tim Berners-Lee, in 1989. Two years later, Berners-Lee launched the first-ever website page. Back then, web pages were created using HTML, a markup web language. Using only this language was very limiting, so many of the early web sites were super basic, with vertically structured, text-heavy pages and just a few graphics. Because of this, people quickly adapted to vertically scrolling text.
In the mid to late 1990s, designers became more involved in the development of websites, and along with it they started to incorporate images, graphical icons, and also began to use tables for arranging text and graphics in it.
In 1993, the first search engine was introduced. The goal of the platform was to provide its users with helpful links to the best content on the web. From here, we started to see web design slowly coming to life, as this engine used a colored background to catch people’s attention to the most important elements of the page.
In 1994, ads were introduced to web design. Online marketing is much older than you assumed it to be, right? Hotwire, which now goes by the name Wired, added the world’s first banner advertising into its website header. The page had just minimal text and more design elements for engaging the users.
Finally, in 1996, Adobe Flash rose and dominated web design, until the early 2000s. It was an innovative technology that gave web designers the freedom to create dynamic websites that integrated video, audio, and animation.
We can see that in the ‘90s web design was being born, so the trends simply followed the innovations that emerged. In fact, some trends were those innovations.
The early to mid-2000s was a time when the website layout that everyone is now used to seeing, started to be developed. Web designers realized that users didn’t like pages containing too much text. Instead of just reading the information, users wanted to interact with the content posted. So, designers bet on creating websites with the top navigation and left bar categories. Scrolling was also incredibly unpopular, so web pages were short and narrow back then.
One of the most popular trends in the mid-2000s was 3D designs. Websites often included buttons with rounded corners and gradients to create a glossy 3D effect.
Other distinctive trends of that period were small text, non-scrolling pages, gradients, dark backgrounds, acid fonts, and highlighted/underlined links in menus.
From 2010 to 2019, a lot of trends appeared and disappeared in the web design world.
In 2010, contrasting colors, virtual stickers, glossy icons/illustrations, rounded corners buttons, diagonal patterns, gradients, and even keypress navigation were the thing.
Around 2011 and 2012, web designers started to adopt skeuomorphism and flat design. So the tendency was calm colors, the use of natural textures, such as wood, leather, grass and cloth, as well as 3D, embossed typography, ribbons, curls and antique stamps.
In 2013 and 2014, minimalism was the word. They used a minimum amount of text and graphics, no shadows or depth, large fonts, bright colors, large photos, and background videos.
Lastly, from 2015 to 2019, we watched the appearance of semi-flat, animation, interactive elements, large typography, and multidimensional shadows.
Finally, we arrive in 2020! This year was marked by many design trends, such as dark mode, minimalism, luminous color schemes, hand-drawn elements, bold typography, 3D elements, and floating elements.
Minimalism arose as a blast from the past to elevate usability and navigating through websites, especially on smaller screens like smartphones. On the complete opposite, luminous color schemes appeared to make websites look modern and futuristic. Combined with deeper and darker shades, these luminous colors pop out from screens, forging a bold and daring appearance for a site. Lastly, The dark mode was adopted by apps and websites such as Facebook Messenger, Youtube, Instagram, Viber, and WhatsApp, as well as the latest releases of Android and iOS operating systems, making it the trend of the year.
In a Nutshell
The history of web design is relatively short, yet it has passed through a succession of changes in this small period. As we could see, in the beginning, technology advances guided the trends of web design almost exclusively. Only in the mid-2000s designers were able to start following users’ feedback and preferences. That’s because web design, as a practice, was also at the beginning itself. With this article, we could notice that some trends of the past come back from time to time and that today we are at a point where web design is no longer limited by technology. Thanks for reading!