22 Mar 2016 | By Jim

Topics: Web Design Elements

At the time when the internet first arrived, server space and bandwidth were among the major concerns in web developmentWeb developers and designers used to take utmost care in using design elements that were less resource-hungry and as a result, the websites from the early days of the internet were of minimalist design. But as computers became more powerful and networks became faster, the web became a playground for professionals to showcase their artistic design brilliance. Needless to say, websites developed in this era were pretty impressive, design wise and were heavy on graphics, gratuitous animations and dynamic elements.

Then, by around the year 2000, the trend in web design started to shift back to minimalism. I guess smartphones have a lot to do with this paradigm shift. Earlier, people connected to the web only through personal computers or higher capacity machines. Though PDA phones were able to connect to the net, browsing was not a smooth experience. PDA phones evolved into smartphones and tablets and in no time, they caught up with desktop computers and laptops, in terms of internet access.

By the year 2015, mobile devices actually overtook desktops with about 51% of the total time spent on the internet accounted for. In contrast, the total time spent for internet access on desktops amounted only to 42%. It is also estimated that 21% of all millennials, who are more tech-savvy, use only mobile devices to access the net.

Now, web professionals are presented with a new challenge. No matter how eye-catching your site is when viewed on the desktop, what really matters is how they look on mobile devices. People who cared too much chose to build two separate websites; a full version for the desktop and a minimal version for mobile. Some smarter ones went a step ahead and opted for responsive websites, where the site optimised itself for the best viewing across platforms. But again, maintaining the feel and functionality of desktop browsing on mobile devices was not an easy task and in some cases, impossible.

So, unknowingly or involuntarily, developers started to shift towards minimal web designs. Today, websites are a matter of fact and easy on the eye and they serve the purpose without all the frills. As I have mentioned earlier, the temptation to impress the world with their artistic brilliance is still prevalent among amateur web developers. For a selected group of users, the internet is still primarily a source of information and not entertainment. They should be your target audience, whom you should look forward to impress. They do not care much about pictures or graphics but do care about the authenticity of the content. Your prime focus should be on proper layout of information and ease of navigation.

Gone are the days when people were impressed with flamboyant flash intros or animated menus and the works. The only thing that impresses the right internet users anymore is information that is new to them. If you can help them find it on your site, consider them impressed.

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