The history of architecture can lead us to the evolution of web design. As forms of art, both are defined by fairly similar factors:
I. Neolithic: Simple, limited structures
Aside from playing a bit with size and position, it was a feat just to get something in place.
II. Classical: Order and proportion, with some embellishment
The Classical period refined proportions and hierarchies, introducing clearly divided sections that served different functions. The mediums (stone, pixel) were also stylized to mirror prior materials: the stone triglyphs represented wooden beams, just as the 3D buttons represented physical buttons.
III. Romanesque: Thicker forms and rounded conical edges
While softening the edges, the Romanesque period also thickened the walls and dividers and menus, and buttons to produce bulkier, heavier, more clickable forms.
IV. Gothic: Ornate and Mesmerizing
CSS and Flash were the stained glass of web design. With the fundamentals in place, we began pushing materials beyond the limits of what seemed possible. Gothic architecture transformed stone into gravity-defying spectacles that took your breath away. And though it’s hard to remember now, those early Flash and CSS sites amazed us just as much with pixels.
V. Renaissance: Clean, logical, and precise
It’s uncanny how similar the recent Flat Design movement is to the Renaissance. Renaissance architecture called for a return to logic. Simple geometric forms replaced ornate complexity. Designs became cleaner. People started publishing treatises with the new rules, and it all got a little more meta.
And then we start looking into the future…
VI. Baroque: Twisting all the rules
Being so logical and precise is fun for only so long. Eventually, we’ll just start breaking rules. In architecture that meant literally breaking apart Classic elements and twisting them into complex forms. Compared with the Renaissance intellectualism, Baroque designs were emotional and theatric.
How will we do this with web design? Designers got smitten by the Apple idea of minimalistic and intuitive. Everything started being consumer-centric. algorithms started going into a place with user choices.
VII. Neoclassical: Harkening back to the past
Everything comes full circle. Once we progress enough, we start to glorify our Classical beginnings and go full retro. It just takes time. Neoclassical web design is a way ahead — that old Yahoo website still looks pretty lame to us, not sacred. But six, seven years from now? It’ll be cool again.
Fast-forwarding with algorithms and consumer-centric, web design stepped into the domain of Virtual Reality, with VR headsets like Oculus and others and AI catering to the intuitive aspect of design and data.
VIII. After that, who knows?
Well, we kind of know. It will likely be some form of Neoromanesque or Neogothic. Something neo. Art continually repeats itself in the form of revivals. But eventually? New technology and a new world view will arrive that we can’t even imagine today.
Then things will get twisted.
Maybe the development of 3D holographic and cheaper HALO devices we might enter a 3D space within comfort of our living room.
WEB & Architecture both evolving at a greater pace and both looking at consumers and trying to push their interactive experience.