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3 Ways Apple Have Changed Web Design

This week will mark the 30th birthday of the Apple Mac. Mashable have produced a great article documenting the evolution of the Mac from 1984 to 2014. As a UK website design company we thought it would be worthwhile looking at how Apple products have changed website design.

Whilst web design is a creative form which is bigger than individual brands or products, the impact of certain technology has to be acknowledged. Here are 3 ways in which Apple have changed web design.

The iMac

In 1998 Apple released the iMac. It was unlike anything we had seen before. Featuring an array of colour options, the iMac underlined the importance of creative design harnessed with superb functionality. Almost everything about the iMac was innovative, from the translucent casing to the round mouse to the seamlessly integrated slot-loading disk drive.

Whilst the iMac was always popular with creatives, it spoke volumes about the way in which the technology industry was changing. Where previous computers were functional, the iMac was also beautiful. In many ways this pre-empted the changes that we’ve seen in the web design industry, with exceptional and creative design becoming increasingly influential.

Additionally, you might not know that the “i” in iMac actually stands for ‘internet’, demonstrating the company’s understanding of how personal computing was changing. With the release of the iMac in 1998 came a redesign of Apple’s homepage, the essential flavour of which hasn’t significantly shifted in the last 15 years.

The iPhone

In 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone after 3 years of intensive R & D, rumoured to have cost the company upwards of $150 million. With wireless internet connection and touchscreen technology, the iPhone immediately changed the expectations of internet users. Instant accessibility was the name of the game.

This has radically changed the way that we think about website design. Whilst users can pinch to zoom in on desktop sites, smartphones have started to expose the problems of desktop-only websites. You could even argue that the popularity of the iPhone has indirectly led to the birth of responsive web design. After all, in the early days many remained sceptical about the benefits of combining your phone, MP3 player and camera. The key ingredient was always going to be web browsing.

It’s also noteworthy that the iPhone has never been compatible with Flash. This has been a contributing factor to the decline in popularity of Flash websites. Instead, web design has become increasingly low-key and understated, with functionality and class being dominant design factors.

The iPad

The release of the iPad in 2010 has in many ways accelerated the web-browsing transition that the iPhone started. It’s becoming increasingly clear that for e-commerce stores, for example, tablet users are some of the most important customers in terms of sales.

Perhaps the biggest change in terms of web design has been the realisation that touchscreen mobile-devices are replacing desktops in the home. This means that the core functionality of a website – menus, navigation, links etc – has dramatically changed.

In the last 30 years Apple have had a huge impact on the personal computing landscape. It will be fascinating to see which products bring the next significant change to the web design industry.