We were reminiscing over lunch yesterday about the path that web design conventions have taken over the past decade. Essentially, it’s been a progression of attempts to wow visitors with the coolest new features and functionality. Most of these efforts were focused on eye candy instead of business objectives.
In the beginning, simple layouts were dictated by nascent code. Over time, as code became more sophisticated, we saw sliders, Flash scripts, squeezes and video — most of which stressed form over function.
More recently, however, web design has matured some, and in the process has come full circle in many ways. Ironically, as designers were permitted more possibilities, simplicity emerged as the ideal.
The prevailing thought now is design dictated by performance objectives. Art for a reason. Until recently, few people expected to derive much of anything from their sites. It was more a case of needing a website to lend legitimacy and credibility to an organization. Some businesses took the next step and used their websites as customer service mechanisms (think directions, product information, FAQs). Now, many are setting the bar higher. They are coming to expect sales, signups, donations and other conversions. This new thinking – and empirical insight – have served to streamline design.
As folks expect to ring the bell with their websites, they typically question superfluous frills that probably serve to water down their core message and lower conversion rates. We like the progress we’ve witnessed. It has served to strengthen our industry and make /buzzquake’s services (bell ringing!) more valuable.