Fluidity is intrinsic to design, Website design being no exception. It has traversed great distances since last couple of decades, from basic, static HTML design of early 1990s to the Responsive design we have today that responds to device resolutions.
We shall reminisce about how website design evolved all these years, enriching and aligning with changing technologies and trends, bringing you first-hand information, One World Technologies being one of the Web companies from that era and a witness therefore.
EARLY TO MID 1990s
Early 1990s saw text-based website design. Those used to be single column, static HTML pages. There were no dynamic elements involved at all.Websites were a bunch on HTML pages strung together through in-line links.
During mid 1990s, tables were introduced within the website design schema. It then became possible to build more complex websites, which could be multiple-columned tables.
Introduction of tables ushered website design in a mode where content could be added in a much organized, neat manner. Website design also improved from a navigational point of view, giving web designers more space to be creative.
Web designers could now include background images in their web pages. Frames were considered cool at that time. Website design often comprised of a left navigation bar in a fixed frame and scroll-able content in the adjacent.
Customers actually appreciated websites ridden with animated GIFs strewn across. A prominent visitor counter at the end of the home page was seen very often.
This was also the time when basic online website builders had started showing up.
Mid 1990s entered into late 1990s with advent of Flash in 1996. Flash was to change the website design scene significantly.
Animated GIFs gave way to Flash Animations, Flash Splash Pages, Flash Navigation, Flash Applications or a combination of these if an entire website design in Flash wasn’t affordable to customers.
Web designers had a field day with Flash all those years.
PHP had entered the scene by 1998, all set to gain ground and grow as significantly popular, free, open-source, website design language with a massive following in the community of web developers and contributors.
THE EARLY 2000s
Come 2000 and CSS hit the Web.
Advent of CSS took website design to another dimension in that web designers could now segregate website design and website content. They no longer needed to define web page elements such as background color, text size within the HTML page. They could do so in the CSS and easily effect a change by changing just the CSS files.
Websites could now be developed with better control on their look and feel. The Web had begun to see CSS’ potential. For example MS Internet Explorer was the first browser to achieve over 99% support for CSS.
Website design took on a new topography.
Navigation bars shifted on top and sub-menus became drop downs. Forms made an appearance.
Social Media stepped in a rudimentary form.
THE MID 2000s
These few years saw emergence of the concept of Semantic Website Design.
It was envisioned at W3C level that computers understood web pages like humans do and perceive human requests. It was expected of machines to perform complex computations and yield intelligent outputs with least efforts on the users’ part.
The concerned techies sought to accomplish this by inserting machine-readable meta data and relational information among pages into hyperlinks.
Many relevant technologies emerged to facilitate the advancement of Semantic Website Design as envisioned. A few are Resource Description Framework (RDF), XML, Web Ontology Language (OWL), N-Triples, Turtle and N3.
THE LATE 2000s
By this time website design was ready to take a big leap in terms of advancement and it did.
Web 2.0 was introduced.
Some memorable or even significant design elements were, interactive content changing without requiring a page refresh, robust applications for processing videos, photos etc.
Website design focus had started shifting to publishing and marketing content besides products of course.
Flash went almost out of the scene being replaced by HTML5 as an alternative to advanced graphics, video and application development.
Social Media by now had gained a good ground, had become more engaging to their users who were now allowed to share content.
2008 – 2016
The Mobile – Internet marriage had already happened and Internet access through Mobile exceeded Desktop’s first time in 2008.
Websites were initially designed as separate mobile versions and then graduated to Responsive where the same website self-adjusted to the device it was viewed on.
Long, spacious, landing-page like websites showing section-wise previews of important inner pages and functionalities became the ‘in thing’ and still are.
Websites are able to communicate with the devices to determine users’ location, mobility etc.
Content is the King. Product-stories are a part of content and proving to be a major selling strategy. Websites are including user data in sale strategies, creating reviews, offering discounts or shopping coupons.
Website design trends are keeping User Experience as the central focus. Content is being created essentially responsive, accessible and simple to use. The trends are towards the betterment and perfecting user experience.
Visions being the strongest human sense, HD hero images are showing up at prominent places in websites. Minimalist, streamlined designs, together with artistic, calligraphic fonts are becoming increasingly popular.
Google’s material design is all set to take website design to another dimension.