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How Has Web Design Evolved In Recent Years?

Web design is an exciting and forever changing industry. Every single day the world of web design evolves due to new technology and innovation. As web technology grows, so does the capability for design. Web languages such as HTML5 and JQuery enable us to animate websites in a way that was not previously possible.

Everyday web technologies are improving, which removes the previous limitation we had on web design. Moreover, the emphasis on user interaction and user experience has grown. Years of A/B and conversion testing has meant that the process has been perfected and continues to do so. An objective of a website is to be user friendly, informative and easy to navigate. Furthermore, modern web design has reflected just this.

Bird Digital has been observing the dramatic change in web design in the last 20 years. Original websites were text based and therefore did not have any graphical elements or styling. The internet has come a long way from when it was first introduced.

THE EARLY DAYS OF INTERNET

When the internet was first invented, design did not play a big role at all. The original purpose of the internet was to transmit text data across the world. Furthermore, early skeptics did not see the potential of the internet and/or believed that the internet would never grow to the level that it has.

During the 90s, the internet began to gain more traction and people were accessing websites predominantly using dial up connections. The lower internet speeds meant that websites could not have as many resources if they were to flow smoothly. Graphical elements were reduced or cut down completely due to the large page loads that they caused. Web designers only began to introduce heavy design elements with the introduction of cable and broadband.

FLASH ANIMATION ON OLD WEBSITES

Flash was a technology that was used mainly during the early 2000s. This was a fresh of breath air for designers as it allowed them to have more creative freedom when designing for the web. Flash technology allowed designers to create animations that could be embedded on to websites. Game developers and animators took advantage of this as it allowed them to easily project their skill set onto a website.

Many games were created by flash animators and designers, which made the internet a place for entertainment as well as information. This was a major milestone for the internet and also web design. This is because flash gave designers freedom to make websites more interactive and less mundane. Furthermore, some websites were even designed fully using flash. The downside to full flash websites was that is was harder for search engines to crawl a website. Therefore, search rankings were affected negatively, which later led people away from using flash technology.

THE INTRODUCTION OF CSS

CSS is a styling language that was first introduced in 1998, however it was not widely used until the early 2000s. A style sheet allows web designers to add styling to a page and also create structure. Prior to CSS, many websites used html tables to place their content, which made page structure more difficult. This did not give web designers the creative freedom they so desired.

WEB DESIGN FOR SMART DEVICES

The introduction of smart devices meant that the internet had to adapt, yet again. Mobile phone use began to rise and more people were using their tablet or mobile device to browse the internet. This meant that web designers had to accommodate for smaller screens, which could then allow websites to be more user friendly.

THE INTRODUCTION OF BOOTSTRAP

In late 2011, Twitter introduced Bootstrap. Bootstrap is a front end framework that is designed to help designers create mobile friendly content. The framework itself runs on a grid system, which scales down to stack on smaller screens. This ensures that all content is fit perfectly within the dimensions of the device therefore making content more readable and accessible. The introduction of Bootstrap changed the way that web designers were creating websites. Since the introduction of Bootstrap, there have been consistent updates.

Search engines such as Google stressed the importance of device friendly design, which is also known as responsive web design. Google announced that they would devalue websites that were not device friendly. Furthermore, people who did not follow this design trend dropped search rankings, which resulted in big losses for those who chose to ignore warnings. On the flip side, many businesses were able to advantage from this big change. As of 2018, over half of all web browsing is done on a mobile or tablet device.

THE FUTURE OF WEB DESIGN

Web design has become very geared towards user experience, which is the direction that web design will continue to move towards. Minimal design has seen a growth in popularity, which is due to its simplicity and ease of use for web users. The truth is, web design is becoming a lot smarter than it ever was. Moreover, many websites A/B test website changes or conduct analytical research to gauge how their audiences are responding. The merge of analytical and creative minds are likely to be the winning combination for the future of web design. ThIs is where data meets design to take websites to the next level.

Virtual reality is another technology advancement that we believe will become more prominent in the future. A lot of designers dismiss VR, claiming that it is just a fad, however its popularity continues to grow. VR is especially popular when used for learning and development purposes. Moreover, children respond well to VR and companies such as Google and Apple have heavily invested in this technology.

Websites of tomorrow will be smarter, faster and cleaner than they are today. Many people suspect that AI and machine learning technology will change the way that we interact with websites. Voice search is another feature that is becoming more widespread, which opens the doors for conversational AI. It is likely that the websites of tomorrow will feature voice navigation or conversational interfaces. Either way, Bird Digital are excited for the future of web design.

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