Prophecies of Web Design: Part Two of Three



In the last blog Prophecies of Web Design: Part One of Three, we talked about how there are different types of websites. This wasn't always the case. Website design is still relatively new. HTML – which stands for Hypertext Markup Language- was created in 1990, and enabled the standardization of tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on web pages. To put it in simple terms, this was a method to style websites in really simple ways by including ‘instructions’ in the code that changed the visual. In the code, you would put <i>elements like this</i> and it would translate into italicized text. This was the begining of design control on website pages. Along with this development came innovation as well as issues. Consistency was hard to achieve and customization was incredibly difficult. That all changed when CSS (aka Cascading Style Sheets) was created in 1996. CSS provided a simple method for adding styles to websites. It created consistency from page to page, saving time along the way. 


Okay, so it all happened pretty fast. Then what? 

As with any major movement that shifts an entire generation’s mentality- this took some time to catch on. While website design capabilities were changing and getting better every day, the general public was still trying to accept web design. In 2000, only 41.5% of the American population used the Internet in any capacity. Ten years ago, in 2007, that number jumped to 61.7%. Today that number is as high as 88.5%.

This incredibly fast growth within the Internet world encouraged more and more people to pool their knowledge and resources into developing the website design aesthetic capabilities we see today. This collective effort is the reason why standards for website design have changed so dramatically in the past 10 years.


BP-Blog-oldvnew.jpgIn 2006, this is what website design consisted of:

  • 800x600 pixels was standard screen resolution
  • Design for one device - a desktop computer
  • Flash was the bomb (In the slang sense of course, little did we know it would actually denigrate)
  • Web-safe fonts only (very limiting options that programmers loved, but designers hated)
  • Web 2.0 was a thing (and I don’t think anyone ever really figured out what that meant. To me it was just the abuse of shiny buttons and horrendous drop shadows)
  • Any graphics with any creativity were images (If you used rounded corners and circles got you slapped by your developer)

In 2016, this has evolved dramatically. We’ve lived through awkward, blocky websites, ostentatious flash animations, and drop shadows galore. We are now in the era of user-experience (UX) focused website designs. While we strive for an aesthetically pleasing design, our primary goal is to create websites that are easy to use and serve a purpose beyond simply being an online brochure.

  • A Bootstrap framework standard
  • Responsive design with countless devices and sizes in mind
  • CSS, Java, and JQuery animations and tools
  • Flat design rather than faux “buttons” and drop shadows
  • Google and font-face fonts (nearly endless options to make us designers happy)
  • Full screen photos
  • Computer generated graphics and endless ways for your developer to blow your mind with his mastery of code
  • A focus on Call-To-Action buttons, and page hierarchy 

It used to be good enough (and a hell of a lot of work) just to have an online presence. You just need something right? So you can put that pretty little .com on your brochure and business cards and people could learn more about you.


Times have changed, my friend. 



Ten years ago, we designers focused all of our energy and attention on your visual brand and how to make that consistent with the rest of your materials. We also needed to think about how the site should be structured to house all of the necessary information. We designed and built website shells. Empty houses for our clients to enter their content into and when it was done, you were good. Sit, wait, and reap the benefits. “If you build it, they will come.”


Today, website design has evolved and, in many ways, become much more complex. It’s not good enough to have a website that matches your print materials. No, you need a website that puts the user first. You need to anticipate what the user is going to want, and how to structure the site based on their journey through it. Websites need to be beautiful AND functional. They need to serve a purpose beyond the online brochure they once were. They need to become your 24/7 salesperson. To find out more about how you can actually acheive this type of website design for yourself, check out the next blog in the series: Website Design Pt. 3. 

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