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Investigating the Homogenization of Web Design: A Mixed-Methods Approach

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Visual design provides the backdrop to most of our interactions over the Internet, but has not received as much analytical attention as textual content.

AKA.....text is easier to study on the web than visual design. We want to look at how websites have changed their look!

Combining computational with qualitative approaches, we investigate the growing concern that visual design of the World Wide Web has homogenized over the past decade.

By applying computer vision techniques to a large dataset of representative websites images from 2003--2019, we show that designs have become significantly more similar since 2007, especially for page layouts where the average distance between sites decreased by over 30%.

AKA.......websites probably look more similar to one another than they used to. We tried to figure out why.

Synthesizing interviews from 11 experienced web design professionals with our computational analyses, we discuss causes of this homogenization including overlap in source code and libraries, color scheme standardization, and support for mobile devices.

When we looked at the data closer and talked to people, we noticed a lot of things about the web changed in the early 2010s.

Our results seek to motivate future discussion of the factors that influence designers and their implications on the future trajectory of web design.

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Built by Sam Goree with the loving support of Bardia Doosti, David Crandall, Norman Su, and the IU Computer Vision and IU Authentic User Experience labs. Like many homepages on the early web, this site was made by hand with some bold color choices.