The Origins of Web Design

How would the internet feel without all the flashy websites and colorful graphics that we have become used to over the years? The face of the Internet used to be quite different in the beginning. It’s pretty hard to visualize the era of text-based websites now, being in the age of high-speed browsing capabilities and parallex websites. Let’s take it a look at how it all began.

The Beginning



It all began when the Internet, as we know it, came into being through a global hypertext project initiated by Tim Berners-Lee; the resultant creation later became known as the World Wide Web. At that time, websites
were completely text-based since only simple line-mode browsers existed back then. This changed when the Mosaic browser was introduced, which integrated images and sound within web design: the breakthrough that sped up the pace of web design development.

Mosaic was also the first commercial browser which enabled the masses to gain access to available websites; only a handful existed at the time of the browser’s introduction though. This marked the beginning of the first generation of web design, and sparked a race among software giants to develop the best browser. The race was incredibly beneficial to the development of web design, with technologies like Cascading Style Sheets and Dynamic Hyper Text Markup Language coming into being along the way.

The Evolution

By 1996, Microsoft had come up with their first full-fledged browser that even supported style sheets. Web design, at that time, was more focused on aesthetics, rather than functionality and practicality; and with the introduction of Flash, animated graphics gradually started becoming a standard on commercial websites early on. The trend faded over time, with web designers preferring simplicity and elegance over flashiness.

The most critical happening during this time was the release of Microsoft’s first fully CSS and HTML 4.0 compliant browser, which also added PNG image support. The browser achieved definitive dominance, ending the browser wars between Microsoft and Netscape, with Netscape being sold to AOL. At this point, websites for mobile access were beginning to be developed, adding a major aspect to web design, the implications of which were much far-reaching than was imaginable back then.

The Present

Modern web design has evolved considerably and is almost unrecognizable compared to the web design approach back during the turn of the century. A variety of different tools and methodologies are used by web designers depending upon the part of the process they are working on. User experience design, home page layouts, marketing design, general page layout, typography, motion graphics, and code compliance, are some of the common areas of web design today; each of which is considered a separate profession by many. The depth and attention to detail that goes into commercial websites in particular, is quite staggering to say the least.

In addition, mobile web design now constitutes a major portion of current web design efforts since the advent and widespread usage of smartphones today.

During the last two decades, the rapid pace at which the face of the internet has evolved with advances in web design is astounding. One can only wait and see what the next few years bring to the table.

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