The Evolution of Web Design in the Last Decade

The Evolution of Web Design in the Last Decade

To understand the complexities of web design, you first need to dive into its background.

The evolution of web design has paved the way for contemporary design trends and priorities to be emphasized. Failing to understand this evolution will ultimately hold you back as you attempt to design your own site. If you want to give yourself the capacity to predict where web design is headed, then it is essential that you explore how we ended up where we are today.

In this article, we’re going to give an overview of how web design has evolved in the last decade. This is a rich and complicated topic, with plenty of smaller trends and details that we won’t be able to touch on, but we can certainly give you a comprehensive overview. Continue reading to learn about how web design has adapted to the modern practices we see today.

For personalized advice, contact our team at Muletown Digital today.

Evolution of website design

The Early 2010s: Simplicity and Skeuomorphism

During the early 2010s, web design first started to grow into common practice. With the internet steadily becoming more integral to our culture with every passing year, designing impactful websites became a point of interest globally during this period. There are several key trends that were essential to the early days of website design, and the two that stick out the most are simplicity and skeuomorphism.

Now, nobody will blame you if that word is completely unfamiliar. Skeuomorphism, simply explained, is when something is designed specifically to resemble another object. Extra ornamentation is utilized with the goal of making aspects of website design more familiar. Examples of this would be a digital calculator made to replicate what a physical calculator would look like, or a digital button designed with added shading to make it replicate the appearance of a three-dimensional button to encourage users to click it.

All in all, this involves a lot of design effects to make things appear 3D and more lifelike on a screen.

The idea is that websites would be designed to replicate something familiar, making virtual interactions easier to recognize by giving real-world cues. Picture a website that designs its page to look as though it has the bottom corner folded over, much like a book would. This subconsciously indicates to visitors that they can ‘turn the page’ to continue reading.

While this may seem like a rather decorative and maximalist approach to design, simplicity was also extremely popular during the early 2010s. There would often be far fewer pages designed, and a single-page layout was extremely common. Simple navigation, large text headers, and one-page designs were the foundation of website planning.

Take a look at some design relics from websites throughout the years.

The rise of responsive design

The Rise of Responsive Design

The art of web design has adapted alongside changes in technology development. Naturally, as we continue through the 2010s, there are a multitude of technological advancements that are made. Throughout these developments, web designers needed to remain attentive, adjusting their practices to best suit the current state of the digital world.

This is how we get to the rise of responsive design. This approach essentially works to create designs that respond to a user’s behavior, adapting in direct response to how an individual views a sight. Naturally, this is a result of the rise of mobile browsing. Suddenly, more and more internet traffic was comprised of people using phones, rather than laptops. Websites that had been designed for horizontal screens were suddenly awkwardly stacking and getting squashed by portrait screens.

Responsive web design adapts based on the size of a user’s screen, its orientation, and the device being used. This design practice incorporates flexible layouts, adaptable grids, images, and more to adjust automatically as a user’s device changes. Not only do websites need to switch on cue from laptop to mobile designs, but they need to be able to read a user’s preferences. Responsive design changed the web design game, as it could essentially eliminate the need for a different version of every website to cater to each platform, device, and resolution.

Flat design and material design

Flat Design and Material Design

As we move into more recent years, trends like flat design and material design have begun to reign supreme. Firstly, let’s dive into what each of these terms means.

Flat design is essentially the opposite of skeuomorphic design. Instead of 3D imagery and shading to make digital icons mimic real-life objects, flat design is precisely what it sounds like. The aim is to bring everything on the site back into the 2D scope, and this practice rose as a direct response to the flaws of skeuomorphic design. Designers created this flat effect across their sites in an attempt to improve visual aesthetics, enhance usability, reduce the load time for websites, and speed up the design process.

Although similar in many ways, material design offered a balance between flat design and skeuomorphic design. With tactile screens becoming a staple in daily life, material web design seeks to replicate a kind of ‘paper and ink’ feeling to the user experience. While designs are still relatively two-dimensional, these new design principles have a layering effect.

When you look at a search results page on Google Chrome on your laptop, you will notice that the search bar appears to be layered above the rest of the page. There is shading surrounding the bar, giving a perception of depth. The background acts like a sheet of paper, and different elements have the mimicked ability to be shuffled, re-sized, and cut in a similar way. Material design is still extremely popular, and it originated as a design language built by Google to create an accessible and memorable visual language called ‘Quantum Paper’.

Explore Google’s material design system here.

The Importance of User Experience (UX)

Over time, the focus of website design moved toward something more user-centric than it was before. Suddenly, the user experience (UX) was becoming the most important factor to consider. Realistically, this is fair enough. UX design exists to create products that are easy to use, useful, and generally enjoyable for people to interact with.

A website that makes people click away doesn’t really serve its purpose, after all. Plus, UX design started to become more popular than ever once Search Engine Optimization (SEO) really began to emphasize the need to appeal to users.

UX design needs to consider each interaction a user will have with a website. Then, it will need to find a way to optimize it. Incorporating UX into web design helps designers to better understand their end product as something for human use. Factors such as the user interface (UI) will arguably impact a person’s impression of a company more than the design aesthetics will. If they cannot find the information or interaction that they need, they will simply exit the site – no matter how pretty it may look.

Factors such as slow loading times, accessibility of key information, and usability of the interface are all key to UX design. There are steps that web designers can take to fix these issues and improve the user experience across a site. This approach to design is also ongoing, with many websites choosing to incorporate surveys and user feedback to ensure they maintain optimal usability.

Current Trends: Minimalism, Dark Mode, and More

Web design is a constantly changing world. There are trends that are overwhelmingly popular right now which may be obsolete in just a few years’ time. However, just because we can predict that present trends will soon adapt and go out of style, doesn’t mean that you should ignore them altogether.

There are several trends that are currently at the height of popularity. Liquid animation, custom illustrations, and parallax scrolling are all examples of current design elements that you’re sure to see all around as you browse the internet. Not all trends are aesthetic fads, however. Dark mode, where the background and interface elements of a website are designed in primarily dark colors, is a great example of how changes in technology are still driving changes in web design.

Screen technology has come a long way since the early 2010s, and backlighting has allowed for more precision than ever. More and more tech companies have embraced dark mode for their devices and websites, from Apple to Google. These days, countless mobile phone users will have all their apps and widgets set automatically to dark mode. By designing your websites to match a similar color scheme, you seamlessly incorporate your page into the user’s overall experience using their device.

Other trends, such as minimalist design, are likewise following the user’s preferences for design. Minimalist sites strip away all unnecessary elements, creating a simple site that highlights only the most important information. This clean and uncluttered aesthetic is a part of the current wave of web design. Though it may pass in a few more years, staying on-trend and appealing to contemporary user preferences is a key aspect of great web design.

The current web design preferences are the result of years of development and adaptation to changing technology. If you keep up-to-date with research and changes, you’ll be able to ensure your website remains relevant and contemporary.

Contact Muletown Digital for Strategic Website Design Services

As you can tell, web design has come a long way over the past decade. For many people, reading about all of these changes and developments can be just as intimidating as it is intriguing. There are countless factors to consider in the ever-changing world of web design – we’ve barely scratched the surface of trends and developments in this article, but wrapping your head around it all can still be overwhelming.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert in all things modern web design. These evolutions are crucial for businesses and designers to understand and keep in mind, but you don’t need to tackle this journey alone. Here at Muletown Digital, our team is here to support individuals and businesses as they seek to create an impactful website.

There is so much to look forward to in the world of web design. We can do our best to predict what advancements are on the horizon, but there will probably be countless surprises in store. To build a personalized website that can stand the test of time, consider Tennessee web design services today.

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