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Web Design Training Styles History

Design TrainingI’ve been seeing many articles pop up on the internet trying to define the web 2.0 style design, or current design trends (see here, here, here and there are lots more no doubt). This made me think about past web design trends, which these days seem rather outdated but were popular in their time. (This article is based around my own experience)

Around 13 years ago is when I first discovered the internet. My browser being text based I guess there wasn’t a whole lot to see, this is what things looked like in Lynx.

Lynx screenshot

Navigation was with the arrow keys and space bar. Internet access was free at this time too through a local university.
By 1996 things were a bit more image intensive and along came the era of the animated gif, horizontal divider lines, frames and so much more. Under construction gifs were in high demand especially if they were animated. An average web site might have looked something along the lines of:

Other characteristics of this era were the single column LOOOOOOONG web page (content divided by the horizontal line – animated of course) There was usually a tiling background behind the text. There are still a few examples of this kind of design around today.

By 1998 the bright graphics were flashing a little less and pages had started to become a little more ordered especially for those who discovered the use of tables in formatting their pages. While the use of tables is frowned upon these days, back then it was kind of a step up from the flashing, animated “everything in one column” approach of earlier.

To me this year marks the beginning of the “metal buttons and interfaces” era. I looked up to graphic designers like Andy Evans from (site bought by someone else since) who made the coolest (and animated!) navigation interfaces around.

Design TrainingSlicing graphics into many parts and putting them together with tables began with a vengeance around this time. Interfaces were almost always animated with a JavaScript  mouse over script. Common themes tended to be metallic and futuristic, the more wires the better.

Some example “interfaces” can still be found on sites like Design Training although they have brought theirs up to date and it looks rather good.

Topaz designs one of the better designers of the era but unfortunately her site hasn’t been updated in years.

Other popular styles of the time were the “left side background pattern“, the “click here to enter my site” splash page and the precursor of the web template called “web sets” (which you can still find plenty of be searching for the term.)
Around 2002 web sites started to take on a more corporate kind of look. Possibly due to template monster’s popularity many template providers started appearing, offering this type of magazine-like look consisting of a large picture as the header and the information organized into smaller columns underneath.

This style is still fairly popular today however the trend seems to be towards less images used in the design and more focus on the content. Artwork also seems to replace photos often.

No doubt there’s plenty of change yet to come as more young people have a chance to study and profit from design, new software is invented and new talent enters the field each year.


March 20, 2009 - Posted by | Design News, Design Training, Design Tutorials, Fonts Download, Free Photoshop Brushes, Free Web Templates, illustrations, photoshop brushes, Stock Photography, Web Design | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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