December 12, 2005
The "Web 2.0" Design Aesthetic
Browse through a gallery of the ever-more-crowded world of Web applications released in beta. Good Lord, our Web design is becoming homogenized. Almost everything looks like the love child of a Google application and OS X. Predominant color scheme: secondary colors on a white background. Font of choice: almost invariably a rounded sans serif, usually in lowercase. Rounded edges and gradients are the new black. Talk balloons are everywhere (exhibits a, b, c, d, e, etc.).
Much of this stuff is Good Design, but it’s so ubiquitous that it’s become visual static. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good gradient or a rounded sans serif font. But if those are the only hallmarks of the design, please try again. I say this not as any sort of a self-styled designer (I’m totally not a designer), but just as someone who sees a lot of websites. I’d guess that much of the Web 2.0 backlash is a reaction to the pre-fab*, lifeless aesthetic it’s spawned.
* Not that prefab is always bad. I’m definitely going to this exhibit this week.