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Evolution of Web Designs – How Website Design Trends Dramatically Changed over the Period from 2000-2018

A lot can happen in ten years.

If you go down the memory lane for instance, ‘The Soprano’ aired their highly controversial episode on HBO, the final book in the Harry Potter series came out to much excitement, and Apple launched the 3rd generation of iPhone.

Snapping back to the present, Game of Thrones has replaced The Sopranos as the most popular HBO show of all time, Apple is in the throes of releasing iPhone XR, and the crimes of Grindelwald has just hit the screens as a Harry Potter’s spin-off book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! The world is sure moving fast, and we have the #10yearchallenge to speak volumes for it.

Can you imagine that the first website was published online by Berner Lee almost 30 years ago? Feeling old yet? As expected, it was not anything more than a bunch of huddled up text on web pages. But as we move ahead in the website design world, technology becomes more incredibly refined and has shaped most web designs sophistically in just a few decades.

Just 10 years ago, we saw an introduction to a completely new form of cellular technology, labeled the smartphone. And since then, we have seen a gradual shift of websites from just being a static simple page website design to a more dynamic and responsive one. As we observe a shift in the generation of worldwide audiences, we see more generation Zsthan millennials interacting with the online world. And to our surprise, this has stirred modern-day creative website designers to create more attractively alluring and easy-to-use web designs.

Just as a building architecture reflects on the people living inside, the evolution of web design draws on the changing fashions, beliefs, and technologies throughout the passage of time. While the world is going wild with the #10yearchallenge, we go a decade deeper and look past 20 years to see the beautiful evolution of web design.

1999-2002: The Visual Breakthrough Era

This particular era marks the period when web designs got smarter, although there was much work required on the websites from the UI/UX perspective. Back then, almost 56% of website users would browse the Internet on huge monitors. The resolution support for 800 x 600 screens was something we could compare to the 1080p from these days. Since most websites were in the budding stage of their development, cartoonish visuals and illustrations were considered innovative designs.

The languages used for coding back in that era comprised of PHP3, HTML4, and CSS2. When we talk about trends – dark backgrounds, acid fonts, gradients, non-scrolling, and small texts- were quite the norm. Also, websites, which had less images and more flashy images, was deemed the original thing. If your website had well-sought out menu options and a search box on the main page, it was considered one of the best website designs on the block. With the increase in the speed of the Internet, web designers shifted their perspective from offering readability to website usability.

2003-2005: The Era of Social Media Platforms and 17 Million Color Resolutions

Social networking emerged back in 2003, and many social media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace started taking over the Internet. The purpose of website designers and developers was to create a more navigation-friendly platform. Visual elements, colors, font combinations, and styles weren’t given much attention. There came a time when monitors with a high resolution of 1024 x 768, made their way into the commercial market.

For the first time, users were given the possibility to view images in 17 million colors. And hence, it marks the date when investments were made in bringing visual designs and pictures to life. Back in 2005, the world accessed the platform, we all know as YouTube. It became a safe haven for most modern-day web designers. They started using video marketing as a powerful tool to market their design products. And hence, websites made their way into the video marketing world for the first time.

Further Read:

Five Winning Product Launch Video Ideas to Create Hype and Marketing Buzz

2006-2008: The Era of Skeuomorphism and Naturalism in Web Design

We can’t specifically state that the skeuomorphism trend smoothly transitioned into the web design world somewhere in 2006-2008. However, the foundation of skeuomorphism was laid back in the year 2006. As a result, website designs shifted from the simple flashy platforms to a more caramel style website design. Caramel style of website design brought the glare and glossy shine back to life. We started seeing more round shapes becoming a part of the website design, introducing the element of naturalism.

So how did Naturalism impact website design? It brought realistic elements to the website design to life. It shifted the perception of the general audience from the cartoonish form of websites to more realistic ones. Web designers started using stock images, including long scrolling options, into their web designs. And from that day onward, the cartoonish flashy elements in website design were pushed back and a new era of Internet emerged.

2009-2012: Bringing Natural Textures to Life

Web 2.0 peaked back in the year 2009-2010. As the element of naturalism started reflecting in different web designs around the world, new website characteristics popped up. Contrasting colors, virtual stickers, glossy icons, diagonal patterns, gradients, and round ended buttons became quite the thing. With the introduction of HTML5, website design transitioned from static web design solutions to a dynamic one. In addition, an increasing advantage of adapting to HTML5 is that websites became more search-engine friendly.

In the year 2010, most web designers emphasized introducing glossy elements within the website design; however, what they failed to realize is that the glossy element in a website can conceal the text.

The year 2011 breathed natural textures to life and amalgamated them into the website design. Websites with wood, leather, grass and cloth backgrounds started becoming quite the norm. There was also a rise in embossed typography and 3D fonts as a part of the website design. The new trend of using ribbons, curls, and antique stamps in websites trickled down till the year 2012. During this era, individuals understood that usability in web design is just not everything.

2013-2015: Introducing the Flat Design in Web Design Trends

Moving on to 2013, flat website design took the web designing realm by storm. While realism narrows don to fancy arches, classic columns, artificial colors, etc. Flat designs, in contrast, had the following features.

  • a less amount of text and graphics
  • no shadows or depths
  • Two-dimensional transitions
  • More immersive readability
  • Use of parallax effects
  • Simple Java-based animations
  • Bright use of colors and large images
  • And background videos

The everlasting debate between flat and skeuomorphism raged on heatedly in 2014. As a result, robust visual programming languages forged the way for the future of web designers. The web page hierarchy became more optimized. They become easier to read and understand. The typography on these web pages became incredibly appealing as more and more web designers started complementing new shades and animations within their respective websites.

2015-2019: Entering the Mobile-First Approach

This period is often referred as the mobile-first approach by modern-day designers. During this era, the flat design adopted the semi-flat strategy and put an end to the seemingly incessant debate between realists and minimalists.

Most modern-day web designs can be narrowed down to:

  • Minimum elements
  • Bright typography
  • Realism in Animations
  • Dynamic Imagery
  • Multi-dimension shadows
  • Polygonal and geometric shapes
  • Multilayered-ness
  • Highly detailed images and animations

The Wrap Up

If one thing is definitive about today’s web design, it is that it facilitates functionality. Your audience can search up for a more personalized solution which is UX/UI optimized.

If it makes you wonder what modern-day web design should have, you can read our amazing blog post on

6 Engaging Web Design Trends to Follow in the Year 2019

So that’s all for the day. If you are interested in getting a remarkable website designed for your next big digital dream, we can help you procure a cutting-edge digital product. Branex is a skilled web designing studio firm, encompassing crème-de-la-crème web designers and developers patched here and there. We create the digital presence of your brand by breathing a powerful essence of life in your business.

Ashad Rehman

Hi, I am working as a content developer at Branex, a web design, and development agency. I write on social media, web design, brand management, digital marketing, search engine optimization, and a whole lot more.

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