Visual design serves as the backdrop |
for everything else on the web. Things
which influence web designers affect users.
Understanding the present and future
of design requires a better understanding
of its past!
| Raging Topics on the Boards|
The Internet Archive gives us a perfect |
opportunity to use computational methods
to approach this history from a "cultural
These methods aren't
perfect: we still need to triangulate our
findings through multiple approaches,
|Studying the History of Web Design: A Mixed Methods Approach|
We want to measure the homogeneity of the web over time. That means we need to compute some measure of how similar two websites look. This is a really interesting question, since it's hard to say why two images look similar to one another.|
We also want to contextualize our quantitative findings, so we conducted a series of semi-structured interviews. While quantitative methods allow us to make broad claims about what is happening on the websites in our dataset, qualitative methods allow us to build understanding and really get to the heart of how the web design process is changing.
| ||Machine Learning For Design History|
How should we measure similarity between websites?
We settled on two approaches:
Hand-tuned metrics for layout and color which are easy to interpret, but had to be hand-designed for the task and Deep learning-based metrics which we learned automatically from data, but are difficult to interpret.
The internet is vast! |
There's over a billion websites!
Even a random sample, if we
could construct it,
might not represent the web as
people see it. So instead, we make
use of three selection strategies:
1. websites of top companies
2. websites of the alexa top 500
3. webby award-nominated websites
These websites are not perfect,
they're biased towards the
English-speaking web, but they
let us get different snapshots
of change over time.
To triangulate further, we also conducted interviews with veteran web designers to investigate how their tools and design processes have changed over the past fifteen years.|
While all of our participants started in web design, their career paths diverged to cover the gamut of jobs involved in the web today.