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3dWeb design, like fashion, tends to follow trends and repeat itself over intervals of several years.

In the beginning, when the internet was just computers sending text to each other, the design aesthetic was very flat. Text on a page, perhaps an image or two drawn in MacPaint.

As computers’ graphics capabilities improved, we got fancier images and designs. Animated GIFs anyone? And of course we had the ubiquitous Flash intro pages on nearly every site as well. Funny to consider that a few years ago the prevailing sense was that “Flash is definitely the future,” only to become hugely marginalized (dead?) shortly thereafter.

In the last several years, the trend has been toward making Web designs look like real objects. Gradients, drop shadows, textures, all assembled together to create a sense of virtual, 3-d reality on your flat screen, in what is known as skeuomorphism. Apple, for example, is famous for using this in their mobile operating systems since the birth of the first iPhone in 2007.

However, to coin a phrase, the only constant is change.

Today we’re seeing a trend back toward flat design and simple interfaces. Apple’s latest mobile operating system is a radical visual change from the 3-d of the last six years, to a flat aesthetic. And they’re not alone: Google is also getting set to unleash a flat version of their logo (according to the image from this blog post). Amazon has shifted from dark colors with plenty of gradients to a lighter feel with only one subtle gradient at the top.

Google present

Google present

Google Future

Google Future

Amazon old

Amazon old

Amazon new

Amazon new

Even our own latest site build, Evver.com, is another example of this trend, using solid colors with little or no “depth” for various onscreen objects.

It seems clear, then, that flat is the way we’re headed. The big boys and startups all agree.

The next question is, if you have a site already, do you need to update your site’s design to keep on top of this shift?

Stay tuned for our thoughts on that.

Photo Credit: _zand via Compfight cc

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