Trends come and trends go, especially when it’s about layouts of websites on the Internet. When tables didn’t exist yet, we had those full-page text design with links on top seperated by vertical bar, a |. Then when tables came along we got more structured webpages, with the navigation bar on the left or right and images could be placed virtually anywhere. There were times where layouts were very image-heavy, with every button and logo as an image. Remember when Photoshop had the “emboss”-filter? And gradients started popping up at all the wrong places. Or remember the times when had frames? I haven’t seen those for a loooong time.

It was really hard: designers couldn’t program and programmers couldn’t design. It was all still experimental and just too hard for the general public to make websites. They had to do something with a WYSIWYG-editors and Geocities, resulting into very ugly pages where the text was centered and pictures were around everywhere. And don’t get me started about navigation.

When CSS came up, everything became different, because text could be easily customized and websites could have multiple layers, frames became slowely obsolete and images in buttons and logos would be changed to text with an onMouseOver-effect which changed the color of the text or table background (as evidented on the right). In the beginning of this century a lot of personal sites had the (what I call) rinoa.nu-effect: everything became unreadable (yes, the picture above is not scaled). These were the sites with very low-contrast and a very small fonts, containing no information whatsoever and just made by people who liked designing web sites. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that – but I just can’t stop thinking that the readibility of their site has actually something to do with the no-content aspect.

So at that time there were two extremes: there were people who liked designing, but had no information to share and the people who wanted to share information and had no design skills at all.

Luckily Web 2.0 came along.

This is the part where all those pesky design just went away: amateur-designs that wasn’t pleasing to the eye and long-loading website which looked somewhat pretty, but had no content and proper navigation at all. Websites have become somewhat generic-looking, but for the better.

Not only in navigation, but also the part where people can share their information, stories, etc. in a simple way, because of the existence of CMSes (Content Management System), where the site has already been setup and the user only has to fill in a form in order to produce the content. And change the configuration to match the template to their liking. There a lot of sites now hosting and offering these services, like WordPress. There are also people who share make the code opensource, as evidented in OpenSourceCMS.com, which has a good list with the available opensource CMSes. A lot of these are now used, like Drupal, Gallery and phpBB.

Actually, when you choose hosting nowadays, it’s common that in the admin-panel you get, there are automatic installers for these things. And there enough themes to download so you can customize your page. If you don’t have that, then you can always go to the page of that CMS and check out how to install it.

And if that’s not understandable at all and just confuses the hell out of you: call your nerdy friend. I know everybody has one.

So share your information, your stories and your experiences – all this in a way that that has never been better for you and your readers. It was never easier than today.