Product Design in 2020 is what website design was in 2005

Back in the days of MySpace and before the iPhone existed we used to refer to the process of creating any website (or web application) as “website design”.

15 years in the world of website design and internet technology may as well be an eternity. What we considered a good website back in 2005 would be far from good now.

Back in 2005 websites were mostly static online brochures that acted as an extension to your business card.

They normally consisted of the following information pages: home, about, products/services, image gallery and content.

Us website design professionals called websites that had a database behind them “Dynamic Websites”.

The Content management System or CMS was an initialism only “IT people” had heard of.

I say “IT people” because if you did anything mildly related to the internet back in 2005 you were also expected to fix friend’s and family’s computers if they asked you.

Web technology is exponentially advancing at a rate so fast that we can’t predict what the internet will be like in 12 months time, let along fifteen years!

Back when anything that connected to the internet was website design

Terms like digital marketing, product management and ux design were pretty much non-existent back in 2005.

Even if the website being designed was a large website with complex functionality (What we call web applications nowadays) it was still called a website.

Web design was an all encompassing term to capture anything created that required an internet connection to access.

Social media was still in it’s early stages. Digital marketing was centered around search engine optimisation (SEO) and a very basic google adwords.

How the website design process evolved to product design

Designers have been designing things for a long time. They find a problem and aim to solve it.

Any good website designer back in 2005 would have used the same process or methodology then as designers use now.

Website design involved the creation of a screen based user interface that humans could intuitively find the information they need and successfully perform key tasks.

Yep, I just described every software application and website that ever existed. And that’s my point. The DNA of website design or product design has not changed.

Website Designers in 2005 undertook the same activities that product designers do in 2020. Those activities include:

  • Determining core problems they need to solve through design.
  • Gain an understanding of the customer or user
  • Sketch out ideas on possible solutions
  • Draw up flow diagrams or user journeys
  • Explore visual styling
  • Prototype mockups
  • Test ideas and get feedback
  • Iterate and improve
  • Measure performance.