The Paradigm Shift of Marketing Websites

Different multi-colored squares depicting the shift of websites over the years

It wasn’t that long ago when a website was considered a bonus for most businesses. Today, a website is not only essential, but it has become the cornerstone of nearly all marketing efforts. Much like television commercials in the 1950s and print ads in the 1980s and 1990s, websites have become an integral part of our lives and the way we do business. The difference is that while those other marketing mediums have since fallen by the wayside, websites continue to grow in importance. Here’s a look at how the paradigm of marketing websites has shifted over the years and where it is headed in the future.

First Generation Websites (1995 – 2005)

The first generation of websites was defined by their static nature. Once a website was built, the only way to change it was to hire a developer to make updates for you – and that could be costly. As such, most businesses only updated their website on an annual basis, if that. The design and user experience were also not particularly sophisticated or intuitive. In fact, these first-generation websites were often nothing more than digital brochures with no clear call-to-action for visitors. Nonetheless, having a website was still better than not having one and, as such, they served their purpose.

Second Generation Websites (2005 – 2015)

The second generation of websites was defined by two major changes: the introduction of content management systems (CMS) and the rise of responsive design. CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla changed everything by giving non-technical users the ability to update their own website without having to hire a developer every time they wanted to make a change. This resulted in website being updated much more frequently, which was good for both search engines and visitors alike. Additionally, responsive design emerged as a way to ensure that websites would render correctly on mobile devices – something that became increasingly important as smartphone ownership began to explode.

Third Generation Websites (2015 – 2020)

The third generation of websites continued down the CMS path combined with the ability to gather data about the users visiting a website to create advanced marketing funnels. This involved various tools and forms mixed with gated offers providing potentially useful information contained in downloadable content such as PDFs. To achieve this degree of sophistication, companies were building out their IT departments to be able to run the servers that could handle these complex websites. They were also hiring multiple programmers and designers to update these systems that have become more complex than just posting a simple blog.

Where we are now (2020+)

The current shift is more about making the marketing web site easier to manage and cheaper to maintain, a shift spurred on by Covid-19 and the recession. Moving the entire web stack to hosting services that have also become more reliable over the years and using advanced design tools, such as Elementor to reduce the need for multiple designers on a team. Another change is moving to a “No Code” philosophy for marketing web team, avoiding features that would require maintaining code internally and instead of creating CSS code, choosing to rely on generated CSS from the design tools. This requires a bit more study on how to use these tools in a way to generate the least amount of CSS. Following these practices, marketing teams can reduce the web team down to a WordPress configurator that can use the current marketing team’s content specialist and designers to provide the material for the website.

As you can see, the paradigm of marketing websites has shifted significantly over the years – and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Businesses need to evolve with the times and ensure that their website is reflective of the latest trends in order to remain competitive


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