A short history of web design

03.03.11

Almost every business, company and individual has a website these days. From social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to ecommerce stores, industry forums and general pages representing products and services, everything and everyone, from major corporations to your grandma’s dog, has some kind of online presence. As the online environment becomes ever more crowded, you don’t just need to have a basic website for your business — you need to have an outstanding website that implements advancements in web design to introduce trailblazing features and cutting edge applications that enhance appearance, functionality and customer satisfaction.

Web design is, of course, one of the most essential aspects of running a successful website. As any website owner knows, when trying to make your business stand-out from online competitors, you can’t get by without unique design features. It’s also likely that you know how quickly and regularly web design techniques are advancing…but just how did it all begin?

Let’s take a look at how web design has evolved from its humble beginnings to its present day flair and complexity. Since the internet was only invented in the 1960s, and did not become available as a widespread method of communication until the late 80s, the history of web design is quite a short one.

The first early adventures in web design didn’t commence until the internet began to transform from a tool used solely for communication to one used for browsing and viewing information. This change eventuated around 1993 when the first web browser, called Mosaic, was developed. Prior to this, the internet had only been used to transfer basic information between computers using telephone lines. Mosaic allowed internet users to view documents using HTML, however modem transfer rates were slow so the quality of graphics and amount of text was limited in order to maintain accessibility.

Nevertheless, people were amazed by the possibilities of the internet and Mosaic quickly attracted millions of users worldwide, prompting the 1994 establishment of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which outlined goals and standards of web design. These rules outlined HTML as the primary coding language of websites and also prevented the ownership of web design codes by particular companies. Standards set out by the W3C are still active today, providing standard web design guidelines that enable search engines and browsers to effectively display and index web pages.

Since the mid-late 1990s, developments in web design have enjoyed a meteoric rise. While early websites were primarily text documents with very few graphics, the increasing speed of modern modems has meant that web design has developed to include a greater range of coloured lay-outs, animated text and high quality graphics.

Today’s high speed broadband and wireless internet connections mean that the possibilities for advancements in web design are limitless. Increased speed of internet connections has allowed creative web design techniques to flourish, giving us the kinds of website we are accustomed to today that tend to be unique and vibrant in appearance and functionality.

Full colour text, video, animations, flashing banners, polls, quizzes, games, interactive images, forms and search tools are just some of the web design elements we take for granted, without realising what recent innovations they actually are. Can you even begin to imagine what kinds of web design will be possible in another fifteen to twenty years? Graphics and animations that hover in mid-air without need for a monitor or screen? Websites that employ the principles of Artificial Intelligence to provide a truly personalised service? Who knows what’s in store in the world of web design, but one thing’s for certain, it’s one of the most actively progressive and exciting elements of the contemporary computer industry and one that can work magic on the web presence of your company.