The Golden Age Of Web Design

– Post written by Five Technology web programmer Brad Greenwald

web-design-golden-ageDuring the last decade, millions of websites were released year after year.  In a great trend for all involved, user experience became the dominant focus. Social media is now skyrocketing in nearly every sector for every audience. Websites are now being used on mobile phones and devices. Desktop applications are interacting with websites. Businesses are integrating a large amount of their operations into web-based platforms.

The trend in web design during the last decade resembles that of the 1960s and 70s in the advertising industry, often referred to as “The Golden Age of Advertising”. A time when great, original ideas were continuously rolling off the tables at agencies, and new technologies had enabled conceptual wizards to push the envelope with out-of-the-box ideas. Like then, we have had agencies and individuals all over the world pushing the envelope for the last decade to make the internet the best it can be.

Has anyone considered we may be in the golden age of web design?
Some observations I have on this are below:

  • Larger companies are re-investing in great design and technology regularly to retain and attract users. Smaller companies are biting off as much website as they can chew when facing overhauls and brand updates. Most companies are representing a growing interest in SEO, analytics, social media, marketing strategies and usability.
  • Advancement of web application technologies – Web 2.0 methodology and technologies have swept the premium web marketplace and is here to stay.
  • A threshold in interactive web design. While interactive & animation technologies continue heavy development, the majority of websites stay relatively limited with those features – particularly utilizing Adobe Flash, embedded video and JavaScript frameworks lightly.
  • There has been an unprecedented drop in the releases of base website languages. From 1995 to 2001 there were 6 official version releases of HTML in 5 1/2 years. From 1996 to 1998 two versions of CSS were released. Now we stand around 10 years later with the next generations of each still pending – which are XHTML 2.0,  CSS 3, and XHTML/HTML 5.0.

Summing it all up:
Utilizing the tools we have today, web designers and developers have not required major advancements in technology to pump out robust, user-oriented, interactive websites. As much as anything, the ideas and approach has evolved.

The marketplace has also shifted to deliver stronger websites to smaller businesses at lower costs. In addition many businesses are going green and utilizing web technologies as cost-efficient marketing channels. Wikipedia is now the local library for many average citizens; Facebook, the schoolyard; Google, the everything.

We know it will continue to get better from here, but what I’m getting at is where we may be on the web technology curve.

Sounds like the golden age of web design to me.

4 thoughts on “The Golden Age Of Web Design”

  1. That’s a heck of a first-ever blog post Brad. Interesting to think about. On one hand we have 20 to 30 years to compare that to the burst of 10 years online.

    I see great points in the comparisons you draw, but I can also see we don’t even realize where this is all headed. Great talker and a great post, well done. We’ll be after you to write more now!

  2. Nice post; I have to agree with you. It seems like CM platforms (Joomla, Magento, Drupal) are standing firm and more dynamic code is a must know for designers than just basic HTML or CSS. Server-side technology is also more stable than it was a couple years ago with AJAX and Ruby on Rails. It all looks pretty logical (new dynamic code and platforms) but it’s still a bit scary to dive into something new, especially when you don’t know if that platform/technology will stick around in a couple years.

  3. This is a really interesting idea and in some ways it might be dead on. What we might be looking at is a blossoming of design becoming an increasingly worthwhile expense. Technology in general might be partly to thank for this as well. Think about it this way, in the 70’s there were about 7,000 Americans that were “graphic designers”. And 5,000 of them lived in (NYC). Today the number is estimated at around 150,000. So were seeing a lot of great designs and dynamic content but the structure remains the same – header body footer, whether its 1996 or 2009. How many fonts were web available for web use ten years ago – the same that are available now. The golden age might not be here but it is without a doubt an exciting time to be in web design.

  4. – Cory, I couldn’t agree more about diving into new technologies. It reminds me of buying a mini-disc player in the 90s 🙂

    – Josh, great points. It leaves my jaw hanging open to be reminded we are still using the same web fonts in 2009 and makes me think of what’s around the bend for some of those lacking areas of web technology.

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