I started with this article about the decade that was in web design. (Note: an earlier version of this was done here.) It was not much more than a before and after look at the most popular websites out there. Of course, ten years is a long time in web design so the showcase is a satisfactory way to see how far we’ve come, but not quite enough. There was no discussion on the notable features from the different websites. We don’t redesign sites just because we want a different look, do we? We want them to improve. Answering how those sites improved over the years would be a worthy reference for all the web designers out there. This other one almost nails it, though it focuses on the business of these companies, not web design itself.
I hope the likes of Smashing Magazine or some fabulous curator of web design history would come up with an in-depth study illustrating how web design has evolved over the last ten years. Timelines like this and this could help with that, but still needs mention of developments like:
- the downfall of
<table>layouts in favor of semantic markup
- CSS sprites
- the growth of web typography, from sIFR to
- Art Direction in web design
- mobile web design
- the HTML 5 Superfriends
- which website or company popularized which design pattern, from the glossy, candy-colored “Web 2.0 look” to the sleeker, more dramatic “Apple look” (though something tells me Apple is responsible for both)
Here‘s another approach to the timeline, and is more of a Q&A over the years, and anybody can ask and answer. It also hasn’t been updated since ’04, as it was part of the 2005 conference, A Decade of Web Design. Jakob Nielsen also did a backtrack that same year.
I’d also like to look forward. This prediction post is quite adequate (with pictures it would be perfect). I think this passage sums up what’s happened in the past decade and what will happen in the next:
While most these technological improvements tend to make the web a more and more homogenous place, at the same time, there is a tendency to create highly curated design setups that use different designs for each article.
There will always be a dichotomy between standardization and specialization on the Web but it’s only lately that we’ve been able to do so with less crap, more elegance. And I can’t wait to see how doing those two things evolve into even more exciting things in 2010 and beyond.
Need more crystal balls and time capsules? See also: