Visual design provides the backdrop to most of our interactions over the Internet, but has not received as much analytical attention as textual content. Combining computational with qualitative approaches, we investigate the growing concern that visual design of the World Wide Web has homogenized over the past decade. By applying computer vision techniques to a large data-set of representative websites images from 2003--2019, we show that designs have become significantly more similar since 2007, especially for page layouts where the average distance between sites decreased by over 30%. Synthesizing interviews from 11 experienced web design professionals with our computational analyses, we discuss causes of this homogenization including overlap in source code and libraries, color scheme standardization, and support for mobile devices. Our results seek to motivate future discussion of the factors that influence designers and their implications on the future trajectory of web design.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)