Web design as we know it today has taken a long journey to become what it is. From the initial websites that were mainly single column, text-based pages done in HTML to present day’s responsive websites that change based on the device used, a rapid advancement in website design has significantly changed things in the last three decades.

Website Design in the Mid-1990s

The changes that happened just after the publishing of the first website by Tim Berners Lee include memorable design elements such as:

  • Background images were usually sliced up and inserted into tables
  • Good web site design principles often meant whatever looked the most advanced
  • Frame pages were a popular way to clearly differentiate the side bar navigation from the body of the website content

How Website Design Has Changed Over Time


Web Design in the Late 90s

Towards the end of the 90s, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) was introduced. This development enabled designers to separate web content from design. The design elements of a page, such as text size and background color could be defined in style sheet rather than in the HTML of the page itself.

2000s – the advancement of HTML and introduction of forms

In the mid-2000s, HTML became more advanced. Navigation bars started moving to the top of the page. Drop down menus became a preferred choice for navigation and forms began being used. Among the most consequential advancements of this time period was the emergence of user created content. Users could create and customize online profiles, journal collections, and photos.

2010 – 2016: Trendy web layouts and backgrounds

Since 2010, designing of narrow, textured magazine-like layouts have become a rising trend.

Websites are formatted tall and skinny unlike before where they were short and wide. Navigation has become minimal and reduced to the most important areas of the site only. Mobile-friendly web design has also taken center-stage in development of web design. Designers have been keen on creating mobile-responsive sites that communicate with a smartphone’s hardware to ensure that the content is projected in the most user-friendly manner. However, this advancement has span further than minding only about mobile friendliness. Developments that have happened after 2016 insist on universal responsiveness.

2016 to now: Completely responsive websites

From 2016, we have seen responsive websites becoming more popular. These websites change according to the device used by the user. Therefore, whether you are using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, responsive web design ensures that you get the best view of the site and its content.

Other changes in the web design atmosphere

  • Compatibility and flexibility: With the advancement of the internet and emergence of social media, browsing the internet has become more sophisticated. This had influenced web design to become more flexible, not just functional. The introduction of additional web browsers such Mozilla, Chrome, Opera and others have also made designers pay attention to making sure that the sites they create are compatible with available web browsers.
  • Minimalist/flat designs: Flat design is another trendy wave in web design. Designers and users continue to embrace the efficiency and pleasantness of minimalist two-dimensional design styles. Flat design emphasizes functional over ornamental design elements. Communication to visitors is prioritized, which is why icons and buttons have gracefully bowed to content. It’s common practice for web masters to place content at the forefront and reduce site design complexity.
  • Web design templates: Unlike in the ancient days of web design evolution where only a select few would manage the tasks of website development, today almost everyone can design a website thanks to web design templates. Any individual with a little exposure to IT can create and publish a website. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone can come up with a usable, efficient and aesthetically pleasing website design. A business owner who needs a serious website for their enterprise should employ the services of a professional designer, just a good discipline in business dictates.

As we look into 2019 and the future, magazine sites are expected to become more prominent. In today’s fast-paced world, information needs to be not more than a click away if websites are to retain valuable traffic.

Web design is also expected to leverage the increasing power of computers and phones. As these devices are made more sophisticated and powerful, websites will be able to contain vast content amounts but which will need more elaborate designs. It will also be a necessity for web developers to run more powerful software that will help them design the best possible websites.

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