Web Design TrendsSeptember 9, 2015 11:18 am
We’ve been designing and building websites in Adelaide for 12+ years, and over that time we’ve been able to see the waxing and waning of several web design trends.
We thought it might be fun to be nostalgic for a moment and reflect on four trends that have come and gone.
Flash “all the things”
Macromedia Flash had a lot going for it in the early 2000’s – a low barrier for entry, easy animation tools, a familiar scripting language, and the ability to push beyond what you could normally do with HTML at the time. This resulted in an avalanche of fancy menu’s and animated transitions between pages.
Flash eventually died out due to performance reasons… by working “everywhere” it wasn’t very well optimised. Specifically, the iPhone (and many other phones) couldn’t afford the computer processing power to run flash – or they could, but would drain the battery VERY quickly.
So while flash brought some different interfaces and effects to websites, it could never reconcile the fact that when it comes to web design, users just want the content as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Hardware technology is constantly improving – these days we have multiple gigs of video ram and retina LCD screens. But it was not that long ago we were stuck with 15 inch CRT monitors and computers that took 5 minutes to start up.
Monitor resolutions (how many pixels on the screen) was pretty average – 800×600 was once considered to be a standard and at this time fonts weren’t really great to read on screens. One technique that became popular was making small “pixel” fonts, where a font designer would cleverly make each letter snap perfectly to a pixel width (imagine writing the letter “E” with squares). Text looked sharp, and many web designs adopted the technical look of them.
However as screens and other hardware improved, the actual “pixels” on a screen became smaller and smaller, thus pixel fonts became illegible.
What better way to introduce users to your business that showing them a short animation about who you are, and what you do! Apparently, pretty much anything else.
During the hey-day of Flash, splash-pages were rampant, making people sit through what was basically a slideshow of how you wanted to present your business. The cliche ones would feature b-grade techno music and ken burns transitions of your mission statements.
No one was sad to see this trend disappear.
“Make it look like an iPhone app”
The iPhone was and still is a big deal when it comes to design. It’s initial interface was widely applauded for it’s use of high-gloss style buttons and skeumorphic fabric backgrounds. The iPhone, I’m told, sold roughly six gajillion handsets – it was prevalent in pop culture and modern life.
Naturally web design started adopting these styles. While it’s a good idea to keep design patterns consistent across mediums, this ultimately led to some pretty bad mobile websites trying to copy effects and layouts that only work when in an app (websites don’t have power/access that a native app does).
Other honourable mentions:
- Having the weather and clock on your homepage
- Flashing “marquee” text
- Website vistor counters