Few things have changed the way we live as much and as quickly as the internet. But what we know today as the internet is somewhat different from what it was at its launch, just 28 years ago. Indeed, although it was still a huge achievement, it was considered slow, complex and only accessible by the few. Moreover, the creation of websites, such as it was, was the domain of whole in-house IT departments. It was a time consuming and a difficult programming exercise. Today, businesses enjoy success with high-performance websites designed and built by specialist website design companies. However, although website programming has become more accessible, to be successful, today’s designers must fulfil a far wider range of requirements. These include load speed, content placement, multiple screens and SEO optimization.
1991 – In the Beginning
The internet was announced on August the 6th 1991. Here is the very first text-only website for CERN. Initially, the creation of websites was achieved using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) Ultimately, it was pretty limiting and website design remained basic for the next few years.
1993 – Prepare for Landing
MTV launched its website early in 1993. Their breakthrough was adding a full-colour landing page – can you imagine the load time? At the end of 1993, it was estimated that there were just 623 websites on the net.
1995 – Things get Flashy
With the number of websites at around a quarter of a million, we saw the earliest version of Flash appear. This meant animation was now possible and the designers of the day loved it. Probably too much. In fact, with splash pages and opening animations everywhere, it’s over-use was ultimately its demise.
1998 – Google Who?
September 4, 1998, saw the launch of a little known search engine company called Google. Also, note that even their first Beta version was a simple clutter-free page that really hasn’t changed much to this day.
2000 – PayPal Push Online Payment
Remember when Y2K brought the fear of a global network meltdown? Also, 2000 was the year when PayPal was launched. They built a slick and fully functional payment gateway website that demonstrated what was possible.
2003 – WordPress for the People
The launch of what is now the world’s most popular Content Management System, WordPress, happened in 2003. Consequently, WordPress enabled a design revolution by empowering anyone to take control of their website design, content and management.
2006 – Facebook goes Public
After launching back in 2004, and competing with Myspace, Facebook expanded its reach outside of the University system and quickly dominated the social media market. Today, Facebook has over 2.8 billion users worldwide. All this from a clean and simple design demonstrating that the creation of websites doesn’t need to be complex.
2010 – Responsive Websites
With the massive increase in mobile devices, such as iPhone in 2007, and mobile browsing, a solution was needed to enable clearer, more consistent browsing possible. The answer came in the form of Responsive Websites. As a result, designers only had to create one design and it would automatically resize depending on the type of device it was being viewed on.
2015 – Growth-Driven Design
By now, Google had been firmly established as the King of Search. Also, its search algorithm has become more sophisticated and able to rank websites on multiple factors. In addition, SEO is recognised as invaluable to achieve good organic ranking and that ‘black hat’ strategies would no longer work.
With around 200 million active websites, competition is fierce. Consequently, good website designers are now an essential part of our digital economy. Ultimately, the creation of websites that take note of the Google Algorithm’s demands will be the ones that prosper most.