I guess it’s true that things do come around again. If you’re as old as me, you may remember the very early days of the web. The web was built around individual webmasters with single HTML pages with massive amounts of information on an endless page that scrolled on forever. There was usually a long list of links on the side that linked to the author’s favorite websites. To go along with this was usually a cool background image. This was all done away with in favor of more compact and usable web designs. Or, was it?
I recently read an article by François Briatte at phnk.com. It’s an in depth analysis of the current state of web design with some amazing insights into sociological and organizational motivations of web design. Her conclusions were as surprising as they were obvious – Briatte concludes that web design is driven by some of the very same market forces that drive design in other mediums such as fashion and print media.
I found myself thinking about her article over the last couple of weeks trying to make sense of it. I guess for some reason I thought that this medium was somehow immune to the influence of single individuals – no matter how charismatic. Of course this doesn’t explain the return to web standards circa 1995. The only thing I can figure is that we’ve returned to the basics or design while adopting a more aesthetic approach that just wasn’t available before CSS.
In the final analysis, web design and accessibility is much better today. Designers are finally taking note that simple design trumps cool any day. Now, if we could just teach the charismatic leaders how to practice what they preach.