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05 January 2016

The History of Web Design

by James Cottis

Can you imagine what the very first website looked like? With no images, and no CSS, it was nothing like the websites we have today.

Although there is so much more we can do with web design today, it’s always fun to take a look back at where it all began in 1990.



In 1990, HTML was created, the coded language that can be read by web browsers, and composed into web pages. The first website went live in 1991, though it was probably what we would consider an eyesore now. Back in the early 90’s, computer monitors only supported 16 colours, and the first web browser only supported text, meaning that the web was filled with boring, text-heavy websites. However, in 1993, Mosaic was born; the first browser to display text and images together.



1995 saw the release of Internet Explorer, PHP, and JavaScript, followed by CSS in 1996. The number of colours supported by monitors rose to 256, which unfortunately resulted in the use of bright and ugly colours. Fonts such as Times New Roman and Courier New also made their way onto the web, along with colourful buttons with a 3D feel. This combined with the bright colours made the websites difficult to look at. Many businesses and individuals began to use the internet as an advertising tool, creating garish, flashing ads to catch the attention of some of the 100 million internet users that were now online.



Google launched in 1998, redefining search and branching into countless other industries over the years. The use of menus and navigation on sites increased, and the amount of content on single pages decreased, allowing for easier to use websites. Dark and block colours became popular, as well as backgrounds, gradients and page curls, making sites slightly easier on the eyes.



In 2003 Facebook, MySpace and WordPress launched, followed by Firefox 1.0 in 2004, and YouTube in 2005. 16,777,216 colours are now displayed on computers, allowing for an easy to look at appearance of websites. The readability and functionality of websites became more emphasised, and animated content was subtly integrated into sites, along with splash pages and Flash Animation intro pages.



The first mobile browser, Mobile Safari, was launched in 2007 along with the first iPhone, redefining our relationships with our phones and making responsive design more relevant. Google Chrome launched in 2008, becoming an instant success story, and is now the most widely used browser on the planet. Stock photography made an appearance, being used frequently across the web, as well as drop shadows and long scrolling designs.



Design trends such as flat and responsive design, animated GIFs and parallax now trump those from previous years, and make the internet a much nicer sight for our eyes. Google have released over 30 different Chrome updates in the last 5 years, and Firefox over 20, while Internet Explorer and Safari have released less frequent updates. In 2015 Microsoft Edge was released with Windows 10, replacing Internet Explorer as the default browser. With over 1 billion websites online, 52.7% of users worldwide accessing the internet through their mobile phones, and 61% of users banking online, the internet turned 25 years old.

The last 25 years have seen some major changes in the web design world. There have been some hits and misses, but most of these changes have been for the better. Things definitely look a lot different now compared to back in 1990.

Of course things will continue to evolve just as quickly in the years to come, so it’s important to keep in touch with changing trends in order to deliver a great experience for your users. Here at Twist, we design and create responsive sites to help you keep up to date with these trends. We can give you a brand new website, or simply just revamp your current one.

Get in touch to find out more about what we can do for you.

Tags: Design | Fun | Knowledge Base |

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