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The “Second Wave” of Web Design

This is a thankless task, trying to classify something, structure, write a chronology, etc. – in many cases the results are too ambiguous. Even evolutional biologists still do not agree on species’ definition borders, so we should stay modest… However, I will try to emphasize some “second wave” of the modern web design.

Indeed, we could call it the “third wave” if we count the design of the 1990s’ websites as the first one. But I would like to depart from the supposition that those sites (the most of them) did not have any design at all. :-) A typical example I recall is something like green Times on a raspberry background… ugh!..

Thus, talking on the “second wave” of web design, let’s imply quite presentable design of the 2000s’ sites as the first one. There is no a distinguished boundary between the first and the second “waves”, though personally I would call the year of 2011 as the peak (the “crest”:-) of the “second wave”. 2011 is the year when I noticed this distinctly … and decided to write this article. :-)

Regarding the “web design” term. Let’s consider that in the narrow sense it means graphic design of a site, i. e. mostly its art component and usability. In the broad sense it is development of websites in general. So we may see three characteristics of the “second wave” in web design:

  • This is the re-design of sites due to aesthetic reasons. Everything gets older, even stable websites become obsolete. The thing used to look nice nowadays became familiar and look not so nice, not styling and, moreover, not fashionable.
  • This is the re-design of sites due to technological reasons. During the years passed web technologies made great strides, and nowadays many things in building sites are made easier and faster, look more beautiful, work faster. This is a new quality level both for web masters (for example, only 5 years ago content management systems, CMS, especially open source ones, were very poor, and this is different now) and end users (more beautiful and usable – e.g. AJAX if properly used in the place).
  • This is the re-design if sites dues to economic reasons. The farther to the past, the more “web gurus” and web studios which used the immaturity of web technologies and customers to absorb interests, earn as much money as possible. The “forbidden” methods of keeping customers were (and, unfortunately, are) absence of a CMS or using a specific own one not allowing a customer to update his/her site by himself/herself; registering customers’ domain names, hosting and other resources as the property of the contractor, so a customer cannot leave having the risk of loosing it all.

Thus, in the “new wave” only those will survive who, firstly, have talented and modern designers (either own or outsourced), secondly, is skilled in the modern web technologies and popular CMS and development frameworks (mostly open and free), and, thirdly, which is quite new, play fair with his/her customers, does not “hook” them on paid updates and support… because otherwise will run out of resources for new customers and new interesting projects. :-)

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