Everything seems to have trends, fashion trends, like bell-bottoms, mullets (which are now banned in Iran), overalls, platform shoes, big teased hair, polyester leisure suits, and big shoulder pads all once were the highly coveted styles. Even in other industries you see fashion trends. Take pickup trucks for example, once the most popular truck style was a regular cab with a bench seat, and an 8 foot bed. Now most pickups sport an extended cab with bucket seats with a 6 and half foot bed. The web is no different. Fashion trends come and go.
Things we now laugh at
When I look at my fourth grade class photo, I laugh. I was sporting a mullet that would have made Billy Ray Cyrus proud. As were many of my classmates, they were the stylish thing back then. I hate to say it, but I even had a spiked mullet that was later converted into a rat-tail.
Just like fourth grade school photos, it’s fun to look back at web trends that were once popular. Here is a list of funny web trends from the late 90′s. If you used the web then, you will fondly remember these.
- Yellow animated gif of a man shovelling with the words under construction
- On the bottom of the page, “this site is optimised for netscape 3″.
- Really bad repeating backgrounds
- Hit Counters
- Unreadable background/text color combinations
- Background Midi Music
- Bad use of animated gif images in general
For a great example of this things, go to retrology.fm
Trends with staying power
Though it’s funny to look back at the “web mullets” it’s important that we look at features that were putting on our websites today to make sure that they are needed. Sephone has fallen victim to being trendy a few times. We once made some sites with features that we popular for a year or two, but fell out of web fashion with time.
Have you heard of “dog years”, one actually year equals seven to a dog. Well, I want to introduce you to “web years”, one year in normal fashion trends is equal to ten in web years. For example, mullets had a 30 year run, reaching their zenith in late 80′s with Macgyver, Chuck Norris, and Van Damme all sporting them. Once every website had a hit counter, that updated everytime somebody visited the site. See the bottom of the example site for one. Hit counters were cool from about 95 to 99, roughly equal to a tenth of the mullet.
We are focusing most of our effort on trends that will not go away, such as speed. Slow websites will never come back in style, so we minify our “css” and “js”, use long expire dates on static assets, and gzip many things.
Another thing we also focus on, search engine optimisation or SEO. Search engines like google and bing are likely going to be around for a long time. They have become integrated into how we find information. In fact, google can now be used as a verb, like “google the phone number for pizza place”.
Social media optimization or SMO is another. Web pages need to be able to be easily shared. Though social media sites may change, some will rise (like pinterest is now), some will fall (like myspace), they will also be with us though for many decades to come. Sites need to have their content be shared with ease.
“Ease of use” is one of the biggest things we focus on. These old sites with numerous animated gifs, blinking text, with low contrast with it’s background, are a thing of the past. They just cause seizures and A.D.D. Websites of this era, need to guide your focus to the important content and allow easy navigation to various content and functionality.