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I think web design is not different than any other technology aesthetic, and there are trends that form from successful standouts being copied, but through a slight overcompensation, which then builds upon the trend. For instance bell bottom jeans--first a designer had a slightly wide cut, which proved original, and then the next season 5 other designers did the same but wider. And so on, until after a couple years, bell bottoms were super wide and a designer came up with a peg leg and that "reset" the trend. You can see this in other forms of art/technology/culture --> ford explorer, brings the jeep cherokee, brings the cadillac and then the hummer to be reset by the mini or prius.

OK. . . so the question I have, is how might these sort of trend cycles manifest in web design?

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Great new question +1 –  Marco Demaio Nov 30 '10 at 12:08
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That's a good question. I don't know if anyone has really looked at it from a historical perspective. There are plenty of good sites doing yearly trend rundowns (eg Smashing Magazine, Mashable, Web Design Ledger, Noupe, and others.

It would be great to see a historical perspective on this.

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Thanks Anthony. . . I was a bit hesitant to put it up, wanting not to go against the community guidelines here. But it looks like it's been voted up three times, although only one answers. . . yours :-/ –  zkidd Nov 29 '10 at 5:29
    
and great links in your answer. +1 –  Marco Demaio Nov 30 '10 at 12:09
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