History of Web Design: How Web Design has changed

History of Web Design

A journey through the evolution of web design from 2000 to today to try to understand what we will expect in the future.

In recent years we have seen two major changes in the web. The first big change was definitely the birth of Facebook. This new platform has not only changed the way we communicate, access different topics of interest and quickly connect people. It has attracted many more users. New and old users, of all ages, began to be familiar with the graphical interfaces, developing an intuition in performing certain actions. Icons and buttons have entered the symbolic landscape of all of us automatically. Already before the birth of Facebook we started talking about web 2.0 (of the new millennium) where the user was the protagonist and was at the center of the experience.

So at the beginning of 2000 we had the user at the centre of the experience projected towards interaction with other users. And the websites?

What happens in the world of the web

Initially, websites were not up to date with the latest social media news, in fact, the websites of the first part of the 2000’s gave much importance to the form, graphic effects, animations, background music and little consideration for the content. The websites of these years were very slow, full of heavy images, difficult to navigate. Dozens of pages for badly organized topics. The concept of graphic layout involved the use of tables and, even worse, the introduction of websites made in flash.

Evolution and fall of Flash

The second major change that has affected the way of the web, but also our lives, is definitely the smartphone. The new technologies in telephony, with the possibility to access the web, the touch screen and applications have been in recent history a great innovation that has brought even more users to the web and has created the need to create new types of graphical interfaces that are easily visible in different devices: the famous responsive web design that even today is not taken into account by all. Responsive web design means making a web page visible in an easy way when you access it with different devices (smartphones, PCs, macs, tablets).

Apple, Microsoft and Google in the evolution of the history of web design

Smartphones and social media have brought the concept of website design a long way forward in a short time. Only a couple of years ago, Apple introduced the concept of “flat design” into the graphic interfaces of Macs. Flat design means simple, uncluttered design, with lots of white space between one content and another. As they say in jargon, “giving breath to the contents”. If you don’t have a Mac, just look at the Apple website to see exactly what Flat design means.

Flat design

Flat design or minimal design does not involve shadows, colour nuances or complicated artifices. The colour is well contemplated, but much more emphasis is placed on tone on tone and, in any case, on soft colours that are not too bright or aggressive.

If Apple aimed at a flat and simple style, Microsoft proposed in the same years the Modern UI also known as “Metro design language” no longer based on “scheumorphism” or metaphorical design, which had always distinguished it previously (use of descriptive icons, for example).


Scheumorphism before Windows 8 was very used by Microsoft. But remember that Apple is also famous for the use of sound scheumorphisms such as emptying the basket, the sound of the screen shoot etc..

In short, scheumorphism means remembering, through sounds, images and icons, something that is more similar to reality.

Modern UI is explained by Microsoft as simple, clean and modern.

The Windows 8 start page is an example of the Modern UI language. The new vision of UI design focuses on fluidity, dynamism, new concept of content, interaction, a modern typography and, as we will see in Google’s material design, strong and decisive colors. So the definition provided by Microsoft (simple, clean and modern) is a right slogan when compared to the previous design vision because, what you notice in reality is that unlike a clean and minimal design by Apple, Microsoft focuses on the attractive, intuitive and dynamic impact.

The Revolution of Material Design

On one hand we have Flat design and on the other hand the Modern UI language. Google Material design interposes itself between the two design trends, or rather merges some of the best features of both styles and evolves them into Material design. A new concept of graphic style with a universal language.

In 2014, Google completes a revolution in the graphic design of the web. Material design is a real lifestyle proposed to developers to make their designs more similar to that of Google. They will want to educate professionals step by step on the new trend of Material design. Material design preserves the basic simplicity of Flat design, acquires the bright colors and fluidity of Modern UI language and adds the concept of giving weight and consistency, through the use of shadows, to the different components of the website such as buttons, icons and boxes. A design that is perceived as tactile, which divides the parts into different levels of depth, creating a tridimensionality.

A design increasingly designed for smartphones and touch screens.

To better understand the Material design just look at the graphics adopted by Google for the different components such as Gmail, Google plus and more. To learn more, you can read the “instruction manual” on Material design.

Now we have an idea about the last ten years of web design history, but in conclusion what can we expect for the future of web design?

From the history of web design to the future

With these assumptions we will continue to imitate the different graphic layouts proposed by Apple, Microsoft and Google with the difference that Material design could lead to a homologation of websites, as if they were subcategories of the Google “parent” page. Maybe it won’t be like that, but the use of the “ways” and “solutions” proposed by Google will push web designers. Even more computer developers to consider the advice of “Material design” if only to make the usability more intuitive. Wanting to go further, perhaps Material design is just Google’s first step towards a much larger project.