Website design has evolved since the beginning of Internet. The first page uploaded on a web server was just a simple document with black text. This page was created by Tim Burners Lee, the founder of internet. Since then, websites have evolved into a more complicated combination of design and code. In late 1990s, websites were designed using colors and text effects. The design was simple and the web pages looked more like brochures.
The internet boom and the opportunity to do business online changed the look and appeal of websites entirely. People were flocking to tap the online market and get the first mover advantage. They developed visually compelling sites to attract visitors and more sales. The websites were crammed full of information and there were many colors on a single page. Those websites managed to do well for sometime although they were a nuisance and most of the people use to run away from those websites. Those websites had overlapping colors, big text and some eye popping text effects which used to you're your attention away from the main product / service. There were multitude of bright color with intrusive text and those websites were crammed full of information.
Then, came the internet recession, this was a golden period for website designs. People learned from their past mistakes and started to design some engaging sites that allowed the visitor to focus on the main product / service they were offering. But there was one drawback; the internet population was going through a learning curve and they used to think that simple websites are designed cheaply and used to run away. To solve this problem, most of the big players changed their website design to interactive flash based movies which used to impress visitors with the flexibility and uniqueness of flash based design.
Those were the times when HTML, DHTML and Flash were used to create website designs. The table based design was good but it had some limitations; lots of codes to write and implement style on each and every object on the web pages.
To address this problem, CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) was introduced and many designers adopted it to get rid of long codes. CSS is the latest trend in web design. There are no tables to draw. You can use the div tag to assign styles to any object or component on the web pages.
The latest trend in website design is the result of a 15 year evolution that occurred step wise. Now website designs are more mature and they are centered on the content of the website; not the other way around. Layouts are hot these days. Good web designers are using layouts to direct visitor's attention to the content and not the design. The designs are aesthetically developed to soothe the visitor eyes and keep them engaged. The liquid layouts are things of past.
Now designers are more inclined toward creating perfect layouts and keep the background simple. The website is intentally left blank outside the layouts to avoid distraction. The images and icons are used to highlight certain points and videos are embedded on the sites to provide dynamic content that will engage the visitors instantly. Subtle and light colors are used to complement the design. 3D gradients and reflection effects are current trends.
All in all, website designs are getting better day by day. The mature professional look is more important than cramming and stuffing of images, icons and other design components. Less design and more content is the rule of today's online era and it has given visitors reason to think about the product / services that they are interested in rather than appreciating or loathing the design of a website.
The future of website design is very promising. In future, dynamic content like videos and images will be used to attract and entice visitors. As the internet progresses towards becoming the sole business platform for most of the major businesses, the website design will be considered less important. Content will rule and design will only be there to complement it.