The Web 3.0 Aesthetic
In a previous post about Web 3.0, I argued that it had already begun. What does that mean? Web 3.0 is a marketing term that describes the current condition of web design / development. A Web 3.0 Internet means the web can be searched semantically with AI like Siri. Web 3.0 is omnipresent in our lives, on our mobile devices with augmented reality. Web 3.0 means Designers and Developers no longer create websites, but Web Apps that function on multiple devices. Web 3.0 is an extension of Web 2.0, but let’s take a moment to reflect on what that means in terms of design.
The Web 2.0 Aesthetic was a reaction to Web 1.0. For those of you who can’t remember what the Internet looked like before CSS, the WWW used a myriad of fonts, simplistic bitmaps, low res jpegs and animated gifs, and video was hard to implement compared to today. The largest problem was there was no sense of style, mainly because it was hard to style HTML elements because they had to be styled individually. With the introduction of CSS and Web APIs, Web 2.0 sought to fix a lot of the problems designers and developers faced on a daily basis.
The aesthetic of Web 2.0 sought to standardize the layout of the website: the typical header, content, sidebar, footer template you see on virtually any site. I believe this aesthetic was only transitory. Just as Designers in the 1960s rebelled against the garbled aesthetic of 50s, Designers today are finding minimalist approaches to Web Design that provide provocative user experiences. Think Twitter as opposed to Facebook. Twitter is an example of good, contemporary web design that functions like an App. The website is cleanly laid out, easy to read, the information you are looking for is plain to see. Facebook on the other hand struggles for an aesthetic: the proportion of text to images on the site is all wrong, the three column layout with a fourth chat column makes the site harder to read. As a user, all I really care about is keeping up with friends on the site, but there’s too much noise. The Facebook App for iOS on the other hand is much easier to read. As a user I appreciate that my feed can be easily scrolled.
The Web 2.0 Aesthetic was a solution to a problem that designers faced, but in this aesthetic whole new problems arise from a user point of view. Sitemaps and were never simplified in accordance with the simplification of the Web 2.0 template, particularly on e-Commerce sites. Multi-Column layouts became too much to take in visually, even two-column layouts sometimes struggle to find the visual balance needed to capture a user’s attention. Many sites falter with the correct proportion of text to image to video. Advertisements break up designs and separate relevant content. Typography is usually a forgotten element in the design. What other problems do you see with Web 2.0 architectures?
Web 3.0 aesthetic is minimal in appearance. What do I mean by that, specifically? Single column, vertical layout with a fixed position header and/or sidebar. The vertical layout breaks into sections where users can focus on specific content. High definition icons rather than thumbnails guide users through a layout. The Web 3.0 Aesthetic utilizes recent developments in Web Typography. Web 3.0 sites reference iOS and Android Apps and steal their UI elements. This shift in design is largely driven by the need to unify the user experience across devices including desktops, notebooks, tablets, and phones.The Sitemap is drastically reduced and trimmed to the core functions of the Web App. Links on the main page are more personalized and directed to core content. Everything that is unnecessary is taken away in favor of what the user should be focusing on.
The ethos of the Web 3.0 aesthetic is to make the User Experience more fluid and easier to understand.
Web 3.0 aesthetic is both the antithesis of multitasking and the focal point of our lives. The websites that are easiest to read will get the most users, while those websites that linger with complex layouts will die off. Could this be the harbinger for Facebook? I don’t know, but only time will tell.