Web design has come a long way since August 1991 when the first ever website was launched. Tim Berners-Lee published a text-based site on behalf of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. The site itself was informative only and in no way interactive. Primitive in its looks, content included hyperlinks and was actually removed from the web in 1993. It was later decided to reinstate the website due to the importance of human and technological development.
Q: What’s one of the biggest differences between websites of the early 1990’s and those of today?
A: The first website ever created was solely for informative purposes whereas today, owners can offer a wealth of information, sell products and services, provide platforms for social interaction and much more. All of this is carried out in a visually appealing manner.
Q: Can we talk about speed?
A: Absolutely! You may have been around long enough to remember the days of dialup internet. If not, its highly recommended you look into it. Those used to lighting fast fibre broadband will almost certainly be enlightened to learn the process of dialup and how this would mean the telephone (land line) could not be used and was somewhat slow and at times intermittent. Taking this into consideration, websites of 90’s were based primarily around text. Design layouts were a concept of the future along with imagery, typography and navigation. Due to the simplistic (looking) nature of a primitive website, it meant that the user experience was as optimised as it possibly could be and this notion was based upon a user requiring information from a website that worked through a dialup connection.
Q: So what happened next?
A: Towards the mid 1990’s on site page builders began to grow in popularity with web designers choosing this option as a preferred layout. Offering tables, columns and rows, content was able to be separated into specific blocks based upon a subject or category. This meant a web page held even more visual appeal than that of those from the early 1990’s. The main focus continued to be the users’ experience.
Q: Do you remember the page counter?
A: Page counters were great landmarks, offering insight into the number of people who visited a web page. This type of information was important to both the website owner and the customer. The former gives an idea of the number of people landing on the website with the latter giving the potential reader an idea of website popularity.
Q: Can we look at page structure then and now?
A: As previously mentioned, early website structure was based heavily around text before moving onto a more boxy feel in terms of blocks and columns. Today, web pages are hot on offering great navigation in order to complete a call to action in as fewer clicks as possible. Great images, well-written content and trust signals are all strategically placed within a professional build.
Q: Can we learn about the 2000’s?
A: This is where content and design saw a clear separation through the magical realms of CSS. Whitespace became a positive aspect making way for the eradication of block colours throughout a web page. Another positive feature of this era included the addition of links to icons as well as text. Resolution and pixelation moved to the forefront of important design considerations.
Q: What about today?
A: Known in the industry as the ‘modern web’, and starting out with the birth of Web 2.0, this modern era has built up over time including the likes of social media integration, interactive content and multimedia applications. Results over time have mapped out how websites are built and how we have come to market them today.
With the user experience always at the forefront of design and development since 1993, it will be interesting to re-visit in a further decade.