The Evolution Of Web Design From Nicety To Necessity
When the first website was published in 1991, it was considered a marvel. A static, text-based, incredibly simple marvel, perhaps, but it showed the world the potential of what websites could be used for. It took an additional 10 years before there was any expectation at all that a business would have a website, but by the mid-’00s, all but the smallest businesses had or were developing websites. In the time between 2005 and 2010, we saw a tidal wave of services designed to help bring even the smallest businesses online, and in the current marketplace, people not only expect, but demand that businesses have a website.
How Website Design Has Evolved
Like all people experimenting with new things, early web designers scrambled to try all the tools at their disposal, and created a lot of wild designs, in an effort to discover what users would respond most positively to. There were black web pages with neon pink text (ouch!), and fonts so intricate that they were illegible, but it was new and exciting. As web design moved through the ’90s and into the ’00s, sites moved past text-based design, through frame-based design, which was temperamental and inflexible, and into cascading style sheet (CSS) design, which opened up opportunities to build websites that displayed correctly on a much broader variety of browsers and systems. The advent of HTML 4.0 in 1997 contributed significantly toward the efforts to build sites that rendered correctly across platforms and browsers. In 1998, CSS2 came out, with more improvements, and Google launched: An event, which would ultimately drive much of the evolution of web design for years to come.
Website Design In The Age Of SEO
With the rise of search engines like Google, business websites have huge opportunities to reach more prospects than ever before, but only if those websites are specifically designed for success in the current online marketplace. Three critical issues top the list of SEO website design criteria that help businesses achieve top search engine result page (SERP) rankings:
- Fast Page Load – A recent study from DoubleClick by Google found that 53 percent of mobile users will abandon an attempt to use a website if the page hasn’t loaded within three seconds, and 50 percent of mobile users expect a page to load in under two seconds. Desktop users have a tiny bit more patience, but the gap is closing quickly, and websites need to run lean enough to achieve that two second page-load consistently, or risk losing a significant number of clicks and closings.
- Mobile Friendly – Changes to Google’s SERP algorithm, and subsequent changes to other search engines, have moved mobile-friendly web design from optional to mandatory. Search engines actively test and reduce the rankings of websites that are not fully functional on mobile devices. Mobile compatibility is a key factor not only for SERP rankings, but also for driving traffic to physical businesses; a majority of mobile users who search for a store visit one that same day.
- Fresh, Unique Content – Websites that continually post new content are rewarded by search engines, but that content has to be unique because there is a SERP ranking penalty for duplicate copy. In addition to the search engine benefits, users are more likely to return to websites that have a fresh stream of new content.
Keep Up With The Evolution Of Website Design
Website design is evolving quickly, and not likely to slow down any time soon. It can be a challenge to keep up with the latest technologies, trends, and practices. At Design & Promote, we help our clients develop and maintain up-to-date websites that stay on top of the SERPs that matter most in their businesses.