Written by Matt Birch on June 20, 2021

A look back at how websites have evolved using modern web design principles

Web design is one of the hottest industries right now, as the pandemic gave rise to E-Commerce businesses, and also caused some people to reevaluate their career choice and learn new skills.

But it wasn't always that way.

In fact, web developers were once labeled "nerds." And they sure weren't considered essential. Very few small and medium businesses even saw the need to create a website to showcase their brand, even after the dot-com boom. But it seems like everyone has one to complement their social media footprint nowadays.

It's actually been three decades since web pages have been in existence, with Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, a scientist, having created the first World Wide Web browser in 1990. It was released to the public the following year, but network effects take time, so it took a few years for websites to become part of everyday business world life.

Fast-forward to now, a world in which pets have their own blog—or an entire website, even. So how'd we get here?

The evolution of how businesses have leveraged web design

Websites nowadays traditionally utilize a five-page design. They differ based on niche, audience demographics and marketing approach, but generally, they're comprised of the following pages:

  1. Homepage
  2. About Us
  3. Products or Services
  4. FAQs
  5. Contact Us

A blog or testimonials section can exist in place of one of those others as well, depending on how the business wants to present itself. Both of these are great at expressing EAT -- expertise, authority and trust.  Blogs excel at showing how experienced a business is in its respective niche, while testimonials serve as social proof, having others explain what that company did for them as a client. A glowing review or two can go a long way.

Even E-Commerce websites use a form of social proof on their products pages. Many forget how powerful product reviews can be.

The general approach for websites is to express who a business is, what they do (niche) and who they serve. But that's evolved quite a bit from their initial intent.

Websites were once used primarily to serve as a business' "brochure." That simply isn't the case anymore, as social media fulfills that purpose nowadays.

It's now all about funneling users to websites using social media, advertising and word of mouth, then getting the person to scroll down the page. The average user spends only three seconds on a website, so it's important to focus a lot of attention to above-the-fold design. If the user continues to scroll down, there's a better chance he or she might end up converting (buying a product or service).

Short attention spans and the era of "opt-in" marketing has given rise to the 3/30 Principle. It's said that web designers have three seconds to attract the user to stay on the page with their value proposition, design or whatever else they can leverage. And then they have an additional 30 seconds to retain them, with page content, elements and more.

So make sure you are designing your web page in a clear, professional manner. The "brochure" era is over.

Summary: Why modern web design is here to stay

It's really a blast from the past when we go back and look at some old blogs and websites, from the GeoCities days, and even beforehand. There was so much text crowded onto a tiny page, generally on a traditional grey background. From a design perspective, it was a nightmare. And here's why that was problematic.

"A confused mind never buys."

That's why we at Optimize Web Solutions utilize modern web design principles, with plenty of white space, and not so many elements. You won't find videos, unless our clients specifically request them to help show expertise or to model a product. E-Commerce websites can be a bit tricky, as a video or two can help sell the product, and a lot of photos are needed to be displayed as well. But there's ways to be creative, such as website optimization, and still adhere to best practices for modern design.

Let your page breathe, tell your readers exactly who you are and what you do, and you can drill down to design principles and concepts from there. Just don't get caught up in going overboard with Javascript and embeddable media. It may look cool, but it won't perform well or convert.

Trust us: Less is more. What was once the World Wide Web will soon be Web 3.0, and a lot has changed since that time, so it's important to adjust your website's approach accordingly.

Article written by Matt Birch

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