Evolving Web Design

How Has Web Design Evolved Over The Years?


We spend so much time online these days and the digital environment is so very sophisticated now that it can be very easy to forget the origins of the internet and what websites looked like way back in 1991, when Tim Berners-Lee designed the very first one while working at CERN.

But now you can take a look at how the world of web design has changed over the years, thanks to a new book due out in December called Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990-Today, described by the publisher as “a visual journey through time, gathering the very earliest examples of what we today take for granted”.

More than 200 websites are included for you to have a look at, with quotes and insights provided by the creators, as well as some of the best websites and hardware examples that were used at the time. You’ll also enjoy insights into usability, user experience and the milestones in technology that have helped shape the internet that we know and love today.

Those of you currently talking to your Inverness design company about updating your own site might find flicking through its pages of interest. A little trip down memory lane, reminding ourselves about what the internet used to be like, will no doubt make us all very appreciative of what we have at our fingertips now.

Of course, web design has evolved as other technology has come to the fore, such as smartphones and other handheld gadgets. A few decades ago, there was no need to make sure that your website was responsive or mobile-optimised because we only had desktop computers.

And we didn’t have HTML5 back then either, instead making do with Flash Player to create websites, something that at the time seemed very cutting-edge! Designers were finally able to make use of sound and animation to create a more interactive website, which must have been very exciting indeed.

In terms of trends that we don’t really see in web design any more, you’d be hard pressed to find the likes of drop shadows, glossy buttons, bevel and embossing, and gradients, all of which used to be very popular back in the day.

Drop shadows, for example, were used to make your graphics look more interesting but you don’t really see them on contemporary sites, which opt for layered or subtle shadows, with some even going for more hard edged options.

Another trend that has bitten the dust (thankfully!) are frames, which broke up pages, with each frame displaying its own unique URL. This was hard work for designers, no doubt, and also meant that a site had to have more pages that would need updating. As for user experience, they meant pages loaded slower, while search engines struggled to read them.

We’re looking forward to checking out the book when it hits shop shelves in December and reminding ourselves about other bygone web design features - as well as how lucky we are today to have the technology that we do at our disposal.


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