Researchers analyzed 10,000 websites — and yes, they all look the same. This is how this article in The Next Web starts.
A lot of people seem to think that it’s good because common patterns help users navigate the web. But can’t we use common patterns and still make the websites look different from one another? And is following those patterns blindly a good thing anyway? It has been said that the hamburger menu is not a good idea, yet we keep using it.
It’s reasonable to assume that all sites that look the same, even down to typography, color and button border-radius is because we keep using the same CSS frameworks. Most teams decide to use CSS frameworks because they feel it speeds up development, and helps browser compatibility issues, responsiveness, etc. These are a few of the issues Rachel Andrews covered in the reasons why to use (or not) CSS frameworks article. Later she talks about what I think is the root of the problem: having front-end developer teams without CSS knowledge. Last year, The Great Divide article by Chris Coyier started raising a lot of discussions on the topic too. It seems to conclude that is not possible for a developer to master both aspects of front-end development. But I think that really the issue is that HTML and CSS are under-appreciated and even considered secondary skills. It’s only natural that developers focus on the skills that will give them better job opportunities. If companies don’t value having a unique design and are happy relying on a generic solution, this is not going to change.
Something that has been bugging me a lot while writing the newsletter is that most of the articles listed here are quite old. I haven’t been able to find more recent, valuable articles on the topic. Have we stopped worrying about this? Are frameworks so well established that no one will question again the issue of having a unique aesthetic for the web?
Let’s discuss on twitter.