Although prototypes for the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee popularized the Internet to the public with the invention of the World Wide Web. This was followed up with the publication of the first web page in 1991. Web pages were very text heavy to accommodate the early dial-up modems at the time.
The mid-1990s introduced table-based layouts for webpages and gave developers a way to organize their content. More graphic design elements were introduced such as gifs, page hit counters, and animated text, a great change from the plain text pages that were introduced.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s where CSS was introduced, allowing for developers and designers to make more stylistic changes to their pages. However, these early designs were still very text and content heavy.
With the addition of more developed HTML versions, CSS, and Flash, more graphical elements were added onto pages, popularizing 3D effects, skeumorphism, music, and blinking text animations, thus creating a sensory overload on these webpages. Although the use of Flash became highly popular, over time we’ve come to learn that it does nothing for a website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which has become an important factor for websites today.
The main turning point of web design arrived in the mid 2000s with the birth of Web 2.0, which emphasized the user experience and responsiveness to different platforms, and Apple’s release of the first iPhone in 2007. This introduction of smartphones evolved into a primary way to surf the internet on a daily basis. Web designers now had to take into consideration how their sites would look on a significantly smaller screen.
2010 – Present
Fast forward to the present, websites have become a way for companies to tell their story. Developers have gained control on how to present the information provided, while keeping the design cleaner than ever before. Responsive design has become an important aspect to design as these websites are viewed on desktops, tablets, and smartphones worldwide. Designers have opted for more modular and minimalist layouts in order to get their message across as clear as possible. Popular design trends include the parallax scrolling effect, single page layouts, color blocks, gradients, bolder typography full sized images, and video background headers.
Overall, we have come a long way since the 1990s, and we’re continuing to evolve. What are your favorite or least favorite web designs of all time?
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