Web Aesthetics and the Erosion of the Real
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This paper argues that the visual language of the web as it exists today is a collection of simulations of the physical world that have, over time, replaced their referents; moreover, the current visual landscape of the web reflects its pervasiveness in every aspect of life. The early history of design for the web was shaped by visual metaphors in early GUIs, which used references to familiar physical objects to guide users. In its early days, web design was limited to creating readable pages with some visually interesting elements. As web technology became more robust, web design was able to develop its own design conventions, aesthetic trends, and user expectations, and designers faced fewer limitations in designing for the web. Today, the web plays a critical role in everyday life; contemporary web aesthetics are self-referential and no longer reliant on references to the physical world that the web has eclipsed.