Web Design History part 1

Web design can reasonably be said to have started in 1991, when Tim Berners-Lee created the first HTML web.  It was made up entirely of text, but it was a beginning.  Web design had its first leap forward with the realization that the <table> mark-up, initially created to show data in an orderly fashion, could be used to structure a website into several columns.  No longer would pages be just blocks of text.  Instead, <table> allowed rudimentary web design; text could be broken down and organized, making it easier on the viewer—not that there were many in 1992.

By 1994 there were enough people using the internet that people at the forefront felt that an overarching web design regulatory body of some kind was needed.  Although the number of users in miniscule in hindsight, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was formed to standardize web design for the internet’s more than 10 million users.  1994 was also the year that Netscape Navigator became the most popular web browser, overtaking Mosaic, the first web browser with a GUI, which had put web design in an important place.

1996 saw several improvements to web design. Javascript from Netscape and Flash by Macromedia allowed web design to begin to make the internet interactive.  Web design could incorporate vector graphics or simple animations as a result. The W3C introduced the first Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standards, intending for web design to move to CSS while HTML was used only semantically. Proper form would now be to have web design elements done on the style sheet, rather than by using the <table> mark-up.  It also meant that pages could all conform to the same web design based on a single style sheet, rather than the person doing the web design having to shoehorn their web design into every HTML page.  However, CSS did not actually become the preferred web design method until at least 2000.

Frames also became popular around 1996.  Frames allowed a web design to be displayed within each frame, and frames could be positioned on another web design, nesting multiple webs within another.  It was something of a precursor, in terms of web design, to AJAX, which will be mentioned later.  Frames’ big addition to web design was the ability of developers to add a sidebar which could scroll independently from the main body of text, giving a layered style to the web design.

In 1998, Sergey Brin and Larry Page incorporated a small company called “Google”.  It took a different approach to searching the web, by trying to determine the number of pages linking to other pages, rather than simple keyword density.  Although the Google homepage had a very simple web design, because its founders were web design neophytes, it overtook its more entrenched competitors, and by 2004 was handling ~84% of US search traffic.

In the second part, you will learn about web design developments since the turn of the millenium!