A Brief History of Web Design

Did you know? On this date March 12th 1989.The first website in the world was hosted on a NeXT computer at CERN in a lab in the Swiss Alps. It described what the World Wide Web Project was all about, how to access it, what to use, how to further develop it and so on. It was designed – or rather programmed – by Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web himself. Now at 59 and resides in London.

Building upon the idea of the internet as a whole, Berners-Lee came up with the concept of using a system of interlinked hypertext protocols to transfer a user from document to document and so navigate the internet. He and his team developed the original Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) as well as a language in which documents could be written, called HTML. They also developed the first browser (which is probably still better the Explorer)– a program capable of reading HTML and basically ‘browsing’ the various documents.

Without getting into a philosophical debate, web design evolved from chaos created by many minds. There was a certain design curve if you will. It began simple, with basic colors and layouts. Berners-Lee’s WWW site didn’t have more than text and a few links. Most other sites that followed kept it simple as well.

But soon simplicity went overboard with images, music, silly effects and slow bandwidth. Things took momentarily a turn for the worse when Adobe Flash came along. Although it could make a visitor’s site interaction interesting, it weighed down heavily on bandwidth and a user’s time. (we won’t even touch Flash, so please don’t ask!)

Google changed all of that when it banked on a heavy reliance on good old fashioned text to index sites. Suddenly it became vital for a site to have great content and fresh marketing copy as opposed to fancy intros and beeping menus in order to garner rank in search engines. New languages came along such as PHP, AJAX, jQuery and others to help keep up with the demand for databases and text-based sites.

Despite fast internet being available worldwide – and according to Google soon via Project Loon “balloons”

http://www.google.com/loon/

Information needs to be accessible quickly and easily without too much clutter. Images need to speak their proverbial thousand words, while the words or texts need to be concise and interesting. Adobe Flash is used sparingly. While a lot of links are good in a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) context, it is interesting to note that more and more sites return to the basic one-page scheme that only requires scrolling. This may have to do with the fact that the web is increasingly used by tablets and phones: tapping on links can be frustrating while scrolling is done with a simple flick of the finger.

As mentioned in a recent Forbes article by Josh Steimle  “Mobile is the Future of Everything”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2014/02/12/mobile-is-the-future-of-everything/

The future looks simple where web design is concerned. A designer needs to meet the perfect balance between design and information for a site to be user friendly. Text and articles still matter for indexing and ranking, but the more visual a site, the better. Videos and charts help show a visitor what they are looking for.

And that is the crucial point: in the end it comes down to what the visitor is looking for. Have you been inside your customers head? Because in the end, you need to give them what they want.

Is it time for redesign to implement a responsive, mobile friendly, content rich site?

Contact us today for a consultation.

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