The history of web design is synonymous human perception and taste, which have gradually evolved over the years. Over the years, it has evolved from simply information providers or versatile form of branding for your business. Websites have remained the face of businesses but now they are easily accessible to more people. So, now websites are not just billboards but design solutions that are intent on being intelligent, interactive and responsive.

As we come to the end of GenZ and welcome the age of Gen Alpha, we recount that, although distinct in their own way, both these generations have been immersed in an age where information is easily accessed and shared. Therefore, now, emphasis is now not on what information is provided but on how you present it and how you perceive it. In this article, we are going to going to explore the various aspects of web design 3.0 and how it has come about as a result of evolving user experience.

Evolution of Web Design:

The first websites were in text-based format and layout. This is natural as the Internet had just come into being, which was a wonder in itself. Thus, design and presentation were not really a factor at all.

Web Design 1.0

An example of Web design 1.0

Source: Pinterest

The birth of web design 1.0 was the first inkling of people trying to present information in an interesting way like adding graphical elements to make web pages more attractive. Distinctive features of web design 1.0 include some shapes, structure, and the introduction of tables and columns. These tables eventually switched to layouts and grids.

Web Design 2.0

An example of web design 2.0

Source: Geekflare

The spread of mobile phones initiated the change to web design 2.0, allowing grids to become a requirement on web pages, and layouts allowed elements to be used in various ways by designers.

Bootstrap revolutionized web development and formed the bridge for web pages to connect to mobile devices. It simplified the designing and development process for webpages and allowed the grids used to automatically stretch to fit screens. This formed the mobile responsiveness we know today, allowing developers to no longer have to code individually for desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.

The use of various CMS platforms, like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, has also taken away the need to code for many people. These are just a few of the popular CMS platforms being used today, which allow people with little to no coding knowledge to create beautiful websites.

Web Design 3.0

An example of web design 3.0

Source: maximumrocks

Now, we have numerous website builders and other applications that help people create the kind of web designs that they want using various layouts, templates, and themes. However, over the years, innovation and creativity have been replaced by the same templates and themes used again and again and repeated.

Web designers then started to look for new solutions, ideas, and outlets to explore a creative direction. This was the birth of Web Design 3.0. In essence, it represents a break away from the boundaries and constraints we formed in Web design 2.0. It is in this search that designers arrived back at print designs. Printed pages have always allowed creators to place items freely without any constraints on creative freedom. Now, printed pages started becoming web pages.

These print-like web designs are characterized by three things:

  • Free positioning
  • Element overlapping
  • Breaking limitations of Bootstrap-like grids

These elements ended up being replicated in web design 3.0. Different styles that experimented with typography, layout, and imagery were used to incorporate the features of freedom in positioning and symmetry, element overlaps in the form of animations, microinteractions, and centerpiece elements, and breaking limitations. This jumbo evolution is what we term at Web design 3.0 today.

Characteristics of Web Design 3.0

Web Design 3.0 is about breaking away from the boundaries and constraints of web design 2.0. It is a return to printed pages, where designers have more creative freedom. So, what separates Web Design 3.0 from its predecessors?

Free Positioning

free positioning of elements is prevalent in web design 3.0

Source: search.muz.li

In web design 2.0, everything was based on a grid. The most popular grid system was the 12-column grid that was used by Bootstrap. This grid system allowed for a fair amount of flexibility but it still limited designers quite a bit.

With web design 3.0, designers are no longer constrained by grids. They can position elements anywhere they want on the page. This gives them a lot more freedom to be creative with their designs. Here you can:

  • Position elements freely while leaving white space, if necessary:
  • Resize elements freely
  • Overlay elements and Grid cells
  • Web pages must, obviously, be mobile-friendly.

Limited vs Free Positioning:

The most common types of layouts used to be grid-based. This meant that designers had to position elements within a certain area on the page. While this did allow for some flexibility, it was still quite limited.

Existing website builders offer what you can call a two-cell grid. what this means is that you can position one element on the left side of the screen, and another element on the right side. You are still somewhat limited in terms of where you can place elements.

Now with web design 3.0, you have the freedom to position elements anywhere on the page. This is because webpages are now based on a responsive grid, which means that elements can resize and rearrange themselves according to the screen size. This allows for a much greater level of flexibility when it comes to layout. You no longer have to worry about where an element will go, because the grid will take care of it for you.

Modern website builders, like Wix Code, have taken this one step further by giving you complete control over the position of elements. With Wix Code, you can place an element anywhere on the page, and it will stay in that position no matter what screen size the visitor is using.

This level of control opens up a whole new world of possibilities for web design, and it’s something that every web designer should be taking advantage of.

Overlapping Elements

Overlapping of elements is prominent in web design 3.0

Source: seattlewebsitedesign

Overlapping elements is a great way to create visually interesting layouts. It can also be used to draw attention to certain elements on the page. To create an overlapping layout, all you need to do is place two elements on top of each other. The element that you want to overlap should have a higher z-index than the element that it’s overlapping.

The z-index is a CSS property that determines the order in which elements are layered on top of each other. Elements with a higher z-index are always positioned on top of elements with a lower z-index. If you’re not familiar with the z-index property, it might be worth taking some time to learn about it before moving on.

One way to create an overlapping layout is to use absolute positioning. With absolute positioning, you can specify the exact position of an element in relation to its parent element. This is different from the default behavior, which is to position elements in the order that they appear in the HTML code.

For example, let’s say we have two elements: a red box and a blue box. We want the red box to be positioned at the top left of the blue box. We can do this by setting the position property of the red box to absolute, and then using the top and left properties to specify the position.

Overlapping elements allows you to create a variety of interesting effects. For example, you could create an image gallery where each image is on top of the other. When a user clicks on an image, it will move to the front and be visible. This creates a neat effect where the user can see all of the images in the gallery, but only one image at a time.

Breaking Limitations of Bootstrap-like Grids 

Web design 3.0 is indicative of free flowing structure and a break away from bootstrap-like grids

Source: Wix

By breaking limitations, we mean you can do a lot more than what you’re used to with Bootstrap. You can create any number of columns, and even make them different sizes. This is especially useful for creating masonry-style layouts.

In addition, you can create elements that span multiple columns. This is great for creating things like callouts or quotes that need to stand out from the rest of the content. You’re not limited to 12 columns, either. You can have as many or as few columns as you want.

Finally, you can nest grids inside of each other. This is helpful for creating more complex layouts that need to be divided into sections.

Imagine this, you have a 12-column grid, and you want to create 4 equal sections. You can do that by creating a 3-column grid for each section. Or, if you want one of the sections to be twice as wide as the others, you can make that section a 6-column grid.

It’s really up to you how you want to divide up your content. Just remember that the nesting has to be done in sequential order. So if you want a 6-column grid, followed by a 12-column grid, followed by a 4-column grid, that’s fine. But if you want a 12-column grid, followed by a 6-column grid, followed by a 4-column grid, that’s not possible.

Elements of Web Design 3.0?

Web design 3.0 CSS grid
Source: Geekflare

CSS Grid

Web Design 3.0 is the latest generation of web design, and it’s built around CSS Grid. CSS Grid is a powerful tool that lets you create responsive, flexible, and nested layouts with ease.

You can use CSS Grid to create all sorts of different layouts. For example, you can use it to create a traditional 12-column grid, or you can use it to create a more complex layout with multiple rows and columns. CSS Grid is also great for creating responsive layouts, as it lets you easily change the size of your elements based on the screen size. This allows you to create dynamic layouts that utiliza flexible grid systems, responsive design, and other techniques to adapt the layout of the website to different screen sizes and devices.

Positioning and Dimensions

Web Design 3.0 positioning and dimensions are crucial to achieve that 3D effect

Source: Nicepage

Web design 3.0 breaks away from the traditional two-dimensional layout and positioning. It uses a three-dimensional grid, which allows you to position elements in any direction, and change the size and shape of your elements based on the screen size.

The CSS Grid Layout Module has been designed to create complex, responsive layouts with ease. It lets you position elements in any direction, and change the size and shape of your elements based on the screen size. You can even create elements that overlap, and change their position and size based on the screen size. A good byproduct of this is the introduction of a variety of interactive elements such as sliders, carousels, modals, and expandable sections to create more engaging user experiences.

Free Positioning

This has already been explained earlier. An important advantage of this is the that websites can use machine learning algorithms to personalize the content and layout of the website based on a user’s browsing history, demographics, and other data. Here we will just illustrate this with an example:

A good example to illustrate free positioning is by illustrating the difference between MS Word and MS Powerpoint. MS Word locks content in place, meaning that you cannot change the position of elements on the page. MS Powerpoint, on the other hand, uses a free positioning system, which means that you can move elements around on the page, and even overlap them. This flexibility is what makes CSS Grid Layout so powerful. You are not limited to the traditional row/column system. You can place items anywhere you want on the grid, and even have them span multiple rows or columns.

Remove Table Constraints

Web design 3.0 requires free positioning and removing table constraints. Removing constraints makes every design unique. It allows for a more natural way of design that isn’t bound by traditional rules. It is all about breaking the mold and doing something different. It’s about being creative and thinking outside the box. If you want to be a part of this new wave of web design, then you need to start thinking outside the traditional row/column system.

Another features that this enables is the introduction of  VR and AR elements to create more immersive and interactive online experiences. For example, real estate websites can use VR to create virtual tours of properties, and e-commerce websites can use AR to allow customers to see how products would look in their own homes.

Why are website builders blocking the transition to web design 3.0?

Web design 3.0 threatens to change the relationship between web designers and website builders

Source: wpblogdesigner

Website builders are tools that help people create websites without having to code. They’re usually very user-friendly and have a drag-and-drop interface. However, these builders are based on the traditional row/column system. This means that they’re not really designed for free-flowing, creative designs.

As a result, they’re not really conducive to the web design 3.0 movement. This is because web design 3.0 is all about breaking away from the traditional grid system and being more creative with your designs.

The first transition of web design was from text to visual editors. The next transition was to Bootstrap-based website builders that were good for web design 2.0. The shift to web design 3.0 would mean a shift from traditional website builders and plugins that do not have free positioning and layers.

Website builders mostly comprise preset templates and themes. Yes, there are some variations, but there is no radical change. They are brought forward with simplicity and minimalism, which are hallmarks of modern creativity.

Today, website builders have an enormous user base and provide numerous options for user-friendliness, speed, and functionality along with a library of themes and templates to choose from. Some would say they are perfect. However, it is this very perfection that is the enemy of innovation, change, and progress.

Separate Markets

Even though we say that website builders are an impediment to progress, it is vital to note that website builders are instrumental in web development, especially in setting up and running a website.

Basically, we have two separate markets. One being for web designers and the other for website developers. The web designer market utilizes platforms like Adobe XD, Photoshop, sketch, and InVision Studio, while the developer’s market includes WordPress, Weebly, and Wix.

The key here is to find a space or platform where they overlap, which will allow one to have the ease of use intrinsic to website builders and still create the type of modern designs that are synonymous with web design 3.0.

Applications of Web Design 3.0

We have already described what Web design 3.0 is. It is not a future concept, it is happening today. Here are some applications of this transition:

Minimalism

Minimalism is a key feature of web design 3.0 layouts

Source: Icons8 Blog

The first and most noticeable application of this transition is minimalism. This was popularized by the flat design trend of a few years ago but has now been taken to the next level. Designers are now stripping away even more elements to create designs that are “just enough”. This is done by focusing on delivering only the essential message and doing away with any unnecessary clutter.

As an example, take a look at the homepage of Google News:

This is a very minimal design that still manages to pack in a lot of information. The focus is on the articles and not on any other distractions.

Flat Design

Flat designs are crucial for responsive designs

Source: Uplabs

Flat design is another popular application of this transition. This style does away with traditional 3D elements and instead relies on clean lines and 2D illustrations. This very simplified approach to design is seen in applications like Google’s Material Design. Simplicity and minimalism are key principles of flat design and often used in conjunction with responsive design. Websites are easily viewed on any device, regardless of screen size.

Overlapping Images

This is a popular trend that’s often used to create an illusion of depth. By overlapping images, you can add a sense of movement and dimension to your site. This can be a great way to add visual interest to an otherwise static design. The idea here is to layer your sections to create depth and provide variety in a viewing experience. It also helps that you can incorporate more elements in a way that doesn’t seem cluttered or clumsy.

Uneven Grid Galleries:

Source: YouTube

Another popular trend is to use an uneven grid for your image gallery. This can add a sense of whimsy and fun to your site, while still maintaining a clean and modern aesthetic. The is allows your design to feel more organic and less polished. Asymmetrical symmetry is a wonderful actualization of this feature. We still prefer symmetrical layouts but still incorporate asymmetrical sections to it. What this does is create interesting portions on your website layout that allow you to capture the user’s attention because disruption captures attention.

Images with Big Headlines

Big Headlines are attention-grabbing features on web design 3.0

Source: Geekflare

This trend is perfect for sites that want to make a big impact. By using images with large headlines, you can grab attention and convey a message quickly and effectively. This is a great way to make an impactful first impression. Headlines and big bold fonts are now being used not just in the hero sections but free flowing across other sections as well. Web designers are now experimenting with several variations of this combination across the entire website.

Vertical Text & Super Clean Layouts

Web design 3.0 has brought in the advent of superclean layouts and vertical text

Source: Webflow

This trend is all about minimalism and clean design. By using vertical text and super clean layouts, you can create a sleek and modern look that is perfect for any website. This trend is perfect for those who want a simple and elegant design. Minimalism as a trend goes very well along with this layout and it is even being preferred in many corporate websites to impart professionalism and credibility.

Abstract and 3D Elements

abstract brand elements are very popular elements in Web design 3.0

Source: 123RF

This trend is all about using abstract elements to create a unique and eye-catching look. By using abstract brand elements, you can stand out from the crowd and create a truly memorable website. This trend is perfect for those who want to create a truly one-of-a-kind website. Web Design 3.0 is also welcoming the introduction of extensive use of 3D elements and the use of them as animations and static imagery. Examples include abstract 3D pieces, human-like claymore or 3D figures, or even 3Dproduct listings.

Conclusion:

Web Design 3.0 is a return to the basics of design where designers have more creative freedom so that designers can focus on creating beautiful and unique designs, rather than worrying about how their designs will translate into code. Additionally, modern website builders make it easy to create responsive websites, which are essential for providing an optimal experience for users on all devices.

If you’re looking to create a beautiful and unique website, or if you need a responsive website that will look great on all devices, consider using our services at Pixel Street. We are a web design company that has kept in close resonance with design trends and our clients will echo our sentiments. If you would like to learn more about our company or services, please visit our website or contact us today. Thank you for your time.

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Khurshid Alam
Founder

Khurshid Alam is the founder of Pixel Street, a web design company. He aspires to solve business problems by communicating effectively digitally. In his leisure, he reads, writes, and occasionally plays a game of table tennis.