Over the years, there have been many changes in web design, from the different search engines to the quality and style of the websites. Today, we’ve come to expect a certain high standard, as technological advances are growing faster than ever before.
With the available tools and technology reaching an unprecedented level of sophistication, it’s hard to imagine that in the not-too-distance past, in the time before the web, marketing strategies had to be managed in a different way.
Most people in business today take it for granted that we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, but before the first web browser became popular in the 1990s, all businesses had to rely on traditional marketing methods.
Even in the digital age, businesses still use old-school marketing strategies, or a mixture of digital and traditional, depending on your target market.
There’s a lot to be said for traditional marketing, which still has its place in today’s business world. The main difference is that traditional marketing provides hard copy material.
This means that consumers can be handed printed material that they can read later at their leisure, such as leaflets, booklets and business cards. These can be handed out on the go, at trade shows and conferences.
In the pre-internet days, advertising was done in newspapers, trade publications and advertising vehicles such as the Yellow Pages and trade directories. Artwork would be completed by graphic designers using the old-fashioned methods of Letraset, scalpels and paste-up, until the 1990s.
The graphic design industry, which had remained virtually the same since the 1950s, was revolutionised by the digital era. In the 1950s, a combination of typeface, photography and colour was produced painstakingly by employees, using tools and machines, with paste-up boards being manually created and then sent to the printer.
In terms of customer service, in the past, there was no convenient point of contact, such as clicking on a web link to message a company direct or going on live chat at the click of an icon. Consumers would ring the company – a much slower process! Thanks to the digital age, there has been more investment in customer services, creating a better overall consumer experience.
Technology continued to transition between the 1970s and 1990s, bridging the analog and digital eras and making advances in how type and photography transferred from a traditional design studio to a laptop.
The digital revolution in terms of web design began in the 1990s, although today’s web design technology is, of course, vastly different from that used to create the first websites in 1991.
Comparing today’s homepage designs with older ones can identify the shift in strategy that has made 21st century websites very successful. Once you understand the changes, it can help you to evaluate how effective your own website is and make amendments if necessary.
Modern homepages have clear, simple marketing messages, with websites becoming increasingly user-oriented. Having a well-defined marketing strategy can assist you in determining the direction of your website, often increasing your overall lead generation.
Early web pages were cluttered with content that was text-heavy, with the elements all crammed into a small space. The primary focus of many websites was the number of content sliders you could fit on the homepage. There would also be multiple calls to action squeezed together in a relatively small section of the page.
Today, simplicity is the norm, as marketers and web designers understand the importance of presenting a focused message. The practice of putting as much information as possible on the homepage has largely been discontinued. Today’s homepage needs to feature the most important content, guiding visitors to the action you wish them to take.
Rather than a number of calls to action, there should be one obvious one. Too much content only distracts visitors from the primary goal, so it should be limited.
Website navigation has come a long way. Minimal navigation is now the popular choice, as opposed to long menus with a multitude of dropdown choices. The latest trend is to limit the number of top-level items in the main navigation menu to prevent site-users from feeling confused about where they should go.
There are now plenty more tools than there were in the past, so that website designers can achieve an attractive, clean look. The style of typography can make a significant difference to the user experience in terms of readability, while introducing web fonts has enabled designers to execute greater control over how the content is presented.
In addition, scrolling is more acceptable than it was in the past, permitting the content to fill the available space more effectively. New design processes are available, enabling web designers to take advantage of features on their homepage that weren’t available before, such as full-screen videos or images, large text and more white space.
Images and graphics
On the whole, modern websites can take advantage of higher quality images and graphics. In the past, low-resolution or small images were commonplace, while trends such as skeuomorphism (when an object in the software mimicked its real-life counterpart, such as the “trash can”) sometimes resulted in unnecessarily complex graphics.
Today, better effects are created through styling and the use of graphics is simplified. The images can be used in a way that creates a greater impact, as they are typically larger and they tend to enhance the content, rather than detracting from it.
While a website’s content still remains its most important feature, designers and developers have advanced a long way, with design elements, graphics and images creating increasingly attractive websites.
When you’re looking for a website that truly represents your brand, The Cornwall SEO Co. has a wealth of web design experience. Give us a call on 01726 74161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help you.