We have come a long way since the internet first reached our screens in the 1990s. It is fascinating to take a look back over the evolution of web design to see how we have arrived where we are today and where we may be headed in the future.
HTML, the first coded computer language used to build websites, came into existence, as did the first web browser, Nexus. In 1991 the very first website went live, a totally text based page created by Tim Berners-Lee providing information about the World Wide Web Project.
In the early 90s only 16 colours were supported by the Internet, however this quickly grew to 256 towards the end of the 90s. As the colours grew, websites started adding photos, and the Internet became a whole lot more visual.
This was also the point that extremely bright, flashing advertisements began to appear on webpages to catch viewers’ attention. By the end of the 90s, HMTL had been upgraded multiple times and new web languages were being created and used. 1998 saw 100 million users online as well as the launch of Google. The Internet was being to take control.
Text was now being overtaken by visuals, with shorter and shorter catch phrases on websites’ cover pages, using bright, attractive visuals and headlines to grab viewers’ attention. Menus and navigation became more commonplace, meaning websites could contain more for their clients and viewers, without having to try and fit it all onto a single page.
WordPress was launched in 2003, making having a website or a blog accessible to anyone and everyone, even if you didn’t know how to code or couldn’t afford to pay someone to. Towards the middle of the decade, webpages began increasing their functionality and readability as well as using flash animation and animated content. Social media was born in the form of MySpace and then Facebook and YouTube.
In the second half of the century stock photography was launched, meaning that companies could access visuals for their sites without having to pay a photographer to take photos specifically for them. The iPhone came into existence as well as mobile Safari, the first smartphone web browser. This was a turning point for web design as designers now had to consider how the sites they were designing would appear on a hand held device.
2010 – Present
Designers had to learn this new coding, and businesses had to consider the value of catching up to this trend.
Predictions for the future
It is predicted that web designers will have to stay on their toes as new devices are introduced faster and faster to be able to ensure the responsive sites they have designed remain responsive to all available devices. A focus on cover pages that grab the viewer is predicted, as well as a move away from flat design again towards more advanced and fine tuned use of gradients in graphics.
It’s hard to predict exactly where web design will go, as we don’t know what new products and innovations may be just around the corner, but it’s safe to say it has come an incredible distance since that first web page in 1991, and it certainly isn’t going to stop here.