Despite Internet websites being relatively new to the average person (they have only been commercially available for less than 20 years), web design has already gone through many design changes over the years.
A study by web usability expert Jakob Nielsen shows how far the Internet has evolved in terms of web design since it became commercially available.
The graph below shows a brief overview of how design trends have come and gone based on a collection of homepage screenshots and the average annual changes they’ve undergone compared to the previous year.
Based on the chart above, it’s easy to identify the current trend in web design. Compared to the early years of web design which saw veering changes, to the years after 2000 when contemporary web design began to popular with designers and medium changes took place, the years after 2009, have seen the most stability ever, with design changes remaining in the low 40s.
The stabilisation in web design means that design teams are able to concentrate more on content integration and trying to make a site’s user interface flow smoothly before making significant changes. In other words, designers are able to take their time in designing a site, giving them more leeway for research to make the site more successful in terms of design.
From the user perspective, stabilisation means that users can enjoy a web experience that’s easy and comfortable to use. When it comes to web design, change is something the majority of web users don’t take a liking to—just look at the reactions to Facebook’s Timeline and you’ll see why.
The yearly 40 percent rate in web design changes is consistent with a full redesign every three years. Of course, this by no means that progress has come to a halt, as websites still need to be improved in many ways. This is obvious in the way web designers are still conducting experiments on their individual sites.