A Brief History Of Web Design And Benefits Of Good Design 

A Brief History Of Web Design

The primitive years of the history of web design is surprising to many, seeing what web design has become today. In the 80s, pixels, letters, and numbers were used to form shapes and outlines on a dark screen. 

The major breakthroughs in web design and the internet began in the 90s. The first website was created in the 90s, though it was text-based. There were no images, videos, GIFs, and other media we can conveniently include in our websites today. 

In this post, we shall be discussing web design history, how it started, and more. Keep reading for  more details.   

The Meaning of Web Design

Let’s discuss what web design is before jumping into the history aspect. What is website design? 

A more simpler and direct definition would be, “website design involves the creation of a website and pages to reflect a company’s brand and information. This definition is straightforward, and tells us what web development is. 

Now, here is the thing. The above definition is one-sided. It only captures the aesthetics or design of the website. 

Creating a website isn’t enough. You must take care of the design and functionality aspect of the website. So, web design involves ensuring the aesthetics and functionality of a website delivers a user-friendly user experience. Google favors websites that are user-friendly. Such sites can load faster, are mobile-friendly, well-organized, and a breeze to navigate. 

Website design is an arduous task. It takes time, energy, and requires a skill-set. Web development involves defining the purpose, planning, building, content, publishing, and maintenance. 

These are the steps you take when developing a website. You need to define the purpose for which you’re building the website. The website needs to fulfill the purpose you have in mind. But above all, it must offer a user-friendly experience for users.  

Benefits of A Good Web Design 

Again, let’s discuss a little why having a professional-looking website is good for your business. It doesn’t matter if you have a startup or established business. Your website must be top-notch.

Visitors will judge your website by its design and user-friendliness. 75% of users judge a business’s credibility based on website quality. So, get a good quality website. Hire a professional web design to create a professional-looking website for your business. 

There are enormous benefits your business would receive when you create a high-quality website. Check out some of the benefits below. 

  • A good website enables you to create a good first impression of your personality and business credibility. Consumers are seeking businesses they can trust. A lot of them might have had unpleasant experiences dealing with other businesses in the past. Hence, consumers nowadays will scrutinize your business completely before splashing the cash. 
  • A good website design builds confidence. It will build your confidence and convince prospects that you’re worth doing business with. It creates an impression that you’re a genuine professional, and that’s enough to convince them to make a buying decision. 
  • A good website is the best foundation for SEO (search engine optimization). The website loads fast and it’s mobile friendly. Mobile friendliness is a Google ranking factor. In addition, don’t forget that a bulk of organic traffic now comes from mobile. 
  •  Your competitors probably did the same thing. Hence, they’re ahead or dragging the first page on SERPs with you. Your competitors have probably spent a fortune to create a website that gives them an edge. Prospects are now rushing to their sites. You can achieve the same feat or even go past your competitors when you hire a professional web designer for your website design project.

So, we have discussed what web design is, and the benefits of website design. The benefits are enormous. We decided not to include everything, so this content won’t be too long for you and others. 

Always have at the back of your mind that a good website design will set your business apart. It can help you grow as a business faster than you can imagine.   

Alright, let’s dive into the history of web design. Are you ready? Let’s go!

The 1989 Proposal To Create A Web

The world owes a big thank you to Tim Berners-Lee. He’s one of the founding fathers of the web. Lee wrote an initial proposal asking for a World Wide Web (World Wide Web).

The proposal Berners-Lee presented contained details of the project. He called it a “hypertext project” in which a web of “hypertext documents” can be displayed and people can read them via web browser.  

Berners-Lee was in a good position to create the World Wide Web he wrote a proposal for. He was working with CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) at the time.

The CERN involved a massive community of 17,000 scientists pulled from universities and colleges across over 100 countries. The CERN was also based in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Tim Berners-Lee wanted a smooth collaboration and communication between members of the community of scientists. To that effect, he sorted a process where files can be found and information shared across a computer network effortlessly. 

This period marked the beginning of the world of web design. But it was also acknowledged as one of the toughest periods, as the design created was quite primitive. The scientists had to use letters, numbers, pixels and even tabulations to create outlines and shapes on a screen. Another thing that made it even more difficult was that the screen was dark. But things were about to take a new twist as the next decade unfolds. 

Web development started in the 80s, but didn’t advance until the 90s.  Major breakthroughs were achieved in the internet and web design starting from the 90s.

The First HTML Website In The 90s

CERN was the website created, and it was entirely text-based. It has no images, videos, GIF and other media content we find embedded in content nowadays.  

Tim Berners-Lee considered the CERN as a workplace. He wanted his colleagues from different parts of the world to share and access information with ease. 

Therefore, there was nothing special about web design or the World Wide Web, in particular, upon the creation of the first website. Even software development didn’t really receive major attention in the 80s, as it does now. 

So, design wasn’t a big deal when the first website was created. The major focus was to share information, and improve communication. Thus, all the website had was plain background, san-serif font, and blue-colored links highlighting clickable texts. Design was definitely nothing a thing then. 

A Handy Tip: The website built in the 80s was made using access to Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Tim Berners-Lee published a document which comprised 18 HTML codes for building websites. The document was published in 1991 and he called it “HTML tags.” 

Tim Berners-Lee is credited as the creator of the first WWW virtual library. You can easily access other pages via hyperlinks. That was how the website worked back then. 

Development of First Web Browser in 1994

We have browsers that are quite advanced and feature-rich today. Examples include Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Brave, Opera, etc. But these aren’t the first. 

Netscape was the first web browser ever created. It was created in 1994 by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark. Years later, some advancement was made on the browser. It then became Mosaic Netscape 0.9 and then Netscape Navigator. 

Netscape was very popular back then, and captured over 80% of the market share. 

Introducing CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) in 1994

Web design started with HTML and by the mid-90s, it was HTML throughout. In other words, all the sites created were done using HTML and this generated some concern. 

The use of HTML restricted the flexibility websites were supposed to have. In fact, all the websites were looking the same around the mid-90s because they were created using HTML. 

Technology was advancing fast during this period, so relying on HTML to build websites was no longer making sense to users, and developers.  This gave rise to the birth of CSS called “Cascading Style Sheet.” CSS was created by Håkon Wium Lie in 1994.  

What motivated Wium Lie to create CSS? 

The capabilities of HTML websites started dwindling at a time during the mid-90s. These sites were no longer suitable for the advances in technology that were taking place at the time. In addition, the bog-standard HTML websites were no longer making sense. 

Imagine all the websites on the internet looking the same today. Wouldn’t you be confused and surprised? That was the actual case of the HTML website era. 

Håkon Wium Lie created the CSS, a new programming language at the time, to give website owners absolute control over their websites. With the CSS, you can decide the color, fonts, and layout of your website. 

The CSS is still very much in use today. Web designers use it to create professional-looking websites. However, other programming languages have popped up and are used as well. These include JavaScript, Python, Pascal, Delphi, Ruby, C++ and others. 

The introduction of CSS did not only hand websites the needed freedom, but encouraged businesses to build more websites. Thus, the need to build more unique websites became a top priority in the late 90s.

Developers scrambled to create web designs that were unique, which started another era were GIFs became popular. The introduction of flash, called the “Adobe Flash” gave developers the freedom to include varied media content in their websites. 

With the introduction of flash, websites started supporting high-quality images, interactivity, and even audios. 

The Introduction of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in 1998

Google’s establishment in September 1998 was a game-changer in the world of web development and the internet. Though search engines were in existence decades before Google started, it had a massive impact on it. 

How did Google impact web development and the internet? It did it many ways, and one of them is SEO (search engine optimization).   

In addition to Google, AskJeeves (now Ask.com) was a popular search engine. Gareth Guener and David Warthen created AskJeeves in 1996. 

Google and AskJeeves started the process of crawling websites using robots. The intention was to identify and push the most relevant content to positions where visitors can find them. 

Google’s effort to crawl and identify websites with relevant content paid off. But it gave website owners a reason to sort means to cheat on the system. Every website owner wanted their website to appear at the front page, giving rise to SEO. 

Today, Google algorithm provides updates multiple times yearly. The new updates come with changes that push website owners to work harder.  Thus, SEO isn’t for the weak. You have to work hard to enter the first page of search engines. 

Welcome Web 2.0 – 2004

 Websites existed before 2004. But the word “websites” started gaining traction in 2004.  However, websites had new rivals that compete for the attention of prospects. 

Two social media platforms, Facebook and MySpace were launched in 2004, at a time when websites were gaining popularity.  Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz created Facebook. 

MySpace was created in 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. Both social media platforms were the top-reigning platforms back then. And they gave website owners a run for their money. 

The instruction of these social media platforms meant that website owners must do something unique to standard out. 

This era gave rise to the introduction of the Web 2.0. The Web 2.0 defines the second phase of the internet’s development or advancement, marked by a switch from static to a more dynamic website or user-generated content. This period also marked the growth of social media. 

Other Events That Took Place In The History of Web Design

Web design has a broad and interesting history. Its history shows that so much has happened around web design since the first website was created in the 90s. 

The introduction of web 2.0 was only the beginning of web design. Here are other things you need to know.   

1: The death of flash in 2007.  Steve Jobs’ announcement to create the iPhone and stop supporting flash marked the death of the Adobe Flash. Jobs banned flash for several reasons, including because it was controlled 100% by Adobe, and not very secure.   

2: Mobile internet usage surpassed desktop in 2019. Report shows that over 57% of web traffic came from mobile devices, which excluded tablets. The figure keeps growing as we 

3: What’s next for web design in 2023 and beyond? The future looks extremely bright. New tools and technologies are flooding the market. The introduction of AI will also open another chapter in the history of web design. 

Md. Julhas Alam, is a seasoned entrepreneur, and top-rated digital marketing professional. He has dedicated over a decade of his life, helping businesses succeed online. Julhas Alam is the founder of several leading digital marketing companies, BitChip Digital, Outreach Link Agency, and Go Savvy SEO . He has helped hundreds of online businesses save millions of dollars, generate millions of dollars in revenue and grow, through result-driven digital marketing services.