We live in an ever more networked world. We owe (or should at least blame) this connectivity to the World Wide Web. Website design is immensely important. Here is how web design has evolved.
Before Tim Berners Lee launched the World Wide Web browser software in 1991 while working at CERN, pre-web networked services existed. Pages on these networks usually took the form of informational directories. Because sites could not be accessed outside of the small academic networks they were uploaded to, not very much thought was given to public facing design.
This all changed when Berners Lee uploaded the first website to the World Wide Web on August 6th 1991. Appropriately, this website contained information on how to develop pages on the new network. This was the dawn of web 1.0.
Web 1.0 sites are distinctive in their design ethos – or their lack of one. Walls of text, distracting animations and huge color variations made them relatively jumbled in style. A few relics of this age remain like the bones of some buried dinosaurs underneath the desert. A good example is the rather grim website of the Heaven’s Gate cult. Most of the cult members dies in 1997 in a mass suicide pact. Their website, however, remains trapped in a kind of digital amber. Note the bizarre use of cursive text and comic sans.
Darcy Dinucci coined the term ‘web 2.0’ in 1999 to describe the advent of a new generation of websites. These sites emphasized flexible design traits and user generated content. The rise of social media in the early 21st Century cemented web 2.0 as a dominant paradigm. Sites like Myspace, Facebook and YouTube were (and to a degree still are) far more than simply pages containing information. Instead, these sites are portals or conduits through which a huge variety of expression and information can be exchanged. They are networks within a network. The design of Web 2.0 sites is characterized by a unity of color and text, user generated content and the domination of prevailing brand identity. Building a successful web 2.0 site is not easy. Dedicated site developers like https://www.altagency.co.uk are employed by small business owners to create unique sites without the need for a large IT department.
Web 3.0 is an emerging design and development paradigm. We live in the age of the data deluge. There is a crisis of accumulation afoot. We create data as we communicate, purchase, protest and move around our networked world. Web 3.0 principles are constructed in order to make the best use of this data. With ever-improving big data analysis being enabled by machine learning and AI applications, it should be possible to design websites that engage with the semantic depth of the user experience. We will see an increase in websites that have been designed to react to data being collected from around the rest of the web. Fully adaptable website design is predicted to dominate the field in the near future.