Things That Shaped the Web Design Industry in 2010

Things That Shaped the Web Design Industry in 2010

At the end of 2009, I sat down and had a think about where the web was headed — what was happening at the time, and where it was all going. I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, to be more accurate) and wrote an article called Five Technologies That Will Keep Shaping the Web in 2010 with the intention of looking at technology trends driving our industry, and how they would continue into the future. To reflect back in the year that has just passed, in this article, I will discuss some of the technologies and trends that shaped the web design industry in 2010.

New Markup Standards: CSS3 and HTML5

There’s no doubting that 2010 was a big year moving new standards in web markup forward. CSS3 and HTML5 are fast becoming the standards, even though W3C final recommendation status for these specifications are years away (with HTML5 estimated to reach finalized status in 2022).

Thankfully, modern web browsers such as Safari, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, as well as Internet Explorer 9 — all recognizing the value of CSS3 and HTML5 for mobile device platforms as well as traditional desktops — have moved forward with implementations of CSS3 and HTML5, working off of drafts of the specs.

For me, there’s always something more tangible and authoritative once we begin to see printed books about a particular subject, and a solid number of great titles have been published in 2010 on HTML5 and CSS3 — Hardboiled Web Design, CSS3 For Web Designers and HTML5 For Web Designers, just to touch the tip of the iceberg.

The awareness of web designers and the cooperation of browser manufacturers, along with numerous experiments and proof-of-concepts of the specifications’ new features, have really brought them into the mainstream.

Perhaps what has started to win over a number of skeptics is the implementation of these new specifications in IE9, a very welcome iteration on the most used web browser franchise. A web browser from Microsoft based on (mostly) the same standard specifications that other browser-makers are using means that CSS3 and HTML5 are something we can use in our current projects.

IE9 still may not support all the CSS3 and HTML5 features that you have been seeing in browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, but Microsoft engineers are certainly taking a big leap in the right direction.

JavaScript helper libraries have also played a large role in enabling us to use these new CSS and HTML features even before full support is available in browsers. Open source projects such as Modernizr, HTML5 shiv, and HTML5 Boilerplate continue to help web designers and web developers progressively enhance their products with these new markup standards while still being able to cater to outdated browsers.

Web Typography

Web typography using the CSS @font-face rule has also seen a large uptake in web design. New web services such as Google Font API and Font Deck, alongside existing services such as TypeKit, have helped web designers use fonts outside of the very small set of web-safe fonts.

Google Font API

Mobile Web

On January 17, 2010, Apple announced the iPad. The popularity of the iPad, netbooks, ultra-portable computers like the MacBook Air and Android smartphones have truly moved web browsing away from the traditional static desktop environment, and into sofas, airport lounges, trains, and park benches — virtually anywhere with a Wi-Fi network close by.

Mobile Web

In turn, the last year has seen many discussions (and increased use of) CSS3 media queries and responsive web designs that display websites properly across all platforms.

There were a lot of web designers venturing into the Mobile Web space by way of designing iPad apps, creating mobile-friendly versions of existing websites, and making iPhone apps–either using Apple’s SDK or leveraging open technologies by building HTML5 iPhone apps.

Social Networking

Social networking continued its growth in 2010 — there was even a movie about it! There’s no denying that social networking is more popular than ever. For many people, Facebook is the internet.

We’ve also seen the cultural effects of social networking with the jailing of somebody over a tweet, and Gap, a major international company, backtracking over a logo redesign after Twitter and Facebook users criticized the company’s choice very publicly.

Social Networking

That said, not all social networking ideas have taken off — Google Wave, anybody?


If I asked you what has changed about JavaScript as a language in the last year, chances are, you wouldn’t be able to think of much. In terms of movement in the development of the new JavaScript specifications, it has been a bit disappointing, even though ECMAScript 5 did witness partial implementation in JS engines of modern browsers such as Firefox.

However, it’s JavaScript’s use as an enabler for HTML5 and CSS3 that has put it in the minds of web designers and web developers over the last year. JavaScript is the driver of much of the excitement in HTML5, with the APIs for canvas, audio, video, web storage, and more. It’s seeing server-side scripting use in the form of projects such as node.js, making client-side and server-side script authoring more seamless.

In general, JavaScript is simply more popular than ever. Projects such as Promote JS are helping to get better documentation and spur discussions of the language out there.


There were plenty of new JavaScript blogs that cropped up in the later half of 2010, as well as established JavaScript blogs receiving more attention. Newsletters like JavaScript Weekly that highlight news and events in the JavaScript scene have also come to fruition.

As a testament to the increased mainstream popularity of JavaScript, it has been mentioned in news sources more than in any year prior to 2010 (as shown by Google Trends).

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About the Author

Dave Sparks is a web designer and developer working for Armitage Online in the Lake District. He can be found writing about various web topics on his blog at, twittering as and working on his website analytics project – Stat Share.

This was published on Jan 6, 2011


Vivek Parmar Jan 06 2011

what about jQuery??

glaiza bernaldez Jan 06 2011

Wow cool. Thanks for sharing :)

Brian Jan 06 2011

I agree with Vivek, jQuery was pretty significant this year.

Eddie Jan 06 2011

Social networking is getting bigger and bigger with no signs of slowing down.

jQuery has not been significant in 2010. It has been significant since 2006, so it was correct not to mention it because it has been around for a long time.

Sammy Jan 06 2011

Fabulous post. Keeps me coming back to this site! Well done Dave. Thanks!

Young Jan 06 2011

I agree with Ben, jQuery has been awesome for too many years to be on this list just for the year. Though I think CSS3 also has been around for longer…

Brandon Cox Jan 06 2011

I remember the days when “javascript” could be associated with nothing more than cheesy scrolling marquee things that you could download by the oodles from “free scripts” sites. I’m so glad jquery, mootools, and others have pried us out of that mode.

Jacob Gube Jan 06 2011

@Adan: Thank you Adan, the link has been corrected.

deepakkumar Jan 06 2011

thanks a lot for sharing ..its really wonderful

Sankar Datti Jan 07 2011

Web growing rapidly. Especially mobile web

this is my first time on this site… and i really must say ur articles are really good. I agrees with the guys. Jquery is still going to hit the air.

Ven Francis Jan 07 2011

same here. for me JQuery has been significant on 2010..

Dave Sparks Jan 07 2011

Thanks to everyone who’s commented.

jQuery is a JavaScript technology and has obviously contributed to Javascripts’s popularity, for many people jQuery and JavaScript are indistinguishable so in many ways you can apply all the points from JavaScript especially since a lot of things such as Modernizr are built on it..

@Young I would agree CSS3 has been around for longer but this last year it has really come into the mainstream. At th end of 2009 I was using it but it was certainly a minority of those using it on client work and more mainstream stuff.

Bryan Jan 10 2011

Indeed, mobile web has made its mark in 2010. All of us can truly see how this innovation grow to popularity. Great post!

HTML 5 and CSS 3 are speeding up the Content Load time on websites

Usman Jan 10 2011

Social Networks are becoming very popular and Social Networks have increased the speed of communication over the web

Sachin Gupta Jan 11 2011

Nice Post! HTML5 & CSS3 made lot’s changes in the industry 2010 and now let see what happen in 2011.

Rick Ancil Jan 11 2011

I had not heard of Modernizr, HTML5 shiv, and HTML5 Boilerplate until now but plan to check it out this weekend. Catering to outdated browsers is an *hear this* absolute necessity which is why CSS3 and HTML 5 have taken a back seat. The Google Font API is not yet ready for prime time though. I had to ditch it in favor of @font face which has been great to work with.

Adrian Jan 12 2011

Nice post… I need to catch up a wee bit with the developments in font usage! :o)

jemsdeo Jan 13 2011

You deal with all topic social networking, HTML5 and java script etc…….excellent article.

Srinivas Padma May 18 2011

Publicity gained through Social media has created new media called Earned Media. As opposed to paid media, which refers to publicity gained through advertising.

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