Web Design Evolution from 1989 to Present

What is Web Design Evolution (And Why Does It Matter)?

Let’s face it, if you are like most of us you went online about as soon as you woke up this morning, correct? You checked email, watched the news, bought something on Amazon, or all of the above. But how many of you gave any thought to the fact that everything you see online didn’t just magically appear, but it had to be designed by someone. And that/s where the fun (and the evolution bit) starts! To help you understand it all here is the 3 minute version of web design evolution from 1989 to present.


S5i Web Design Evolution from 1989 to Present


Web Design Evolution

The Early Days (1989 – 1999)

Web design evolution started pretty basic, to say the least! Do you remember plain text on a white background? Or how about neon green on a black screen? When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web back in the early 1990s (sorry Al Gore) the web was basically a text document that could be viewed and distributed online. Pretty fancy, huh? But even back then creative and tech types started thinking about how to make the web better. The first major step in that direction was the formation of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1994.


And from these humble beginnings the interweb (and the web design evolution) began to develop and take shape. The simple text document look improved with the arrival of table based web design in the mid nineties. Another major step was the introduction of Flash by Macromedia (now part of Adobe Systems) in 1996. For the first time web designers actually had something to work with, and many abused the privilege. You all remember the days of style over content, right? How could we forget blaring horns, honking geese, and crazy moving objects in garish colors.


The Emergence of Web Design (2000 – 2005)

This period in web design evolution was defined by two major advances; the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) and the rise of Javascript. Both allowed web designers to separate the actual content of a website from the design. This allowed for a much more user-friendly experience for website visitors. And by having alternatives to Flash designers were able to create websites that not only looked better, but they loaded faster as well. Another major step in this period was user-generated content such as photo albums and user profiles. In other words, the world-wide web was becoming much more interactive!

S5i - Web Design Evolution Infographic

The Semantic Web (2005-2009)

In the mid 2000s the web design evolution continued with the arrival of the semantic web. With advances such as extensible markup language (XML) and resource description frameworks (RDF) we began to instruct machines on how humans used the web. And for the first time machines took over some of the tedious tasks like finding information and describing it to other machines. Metadata and hyperlinks suddenly became important, and search appeared on the web horizon. We all know where that ended, don’t we?


Web 2.0 (The Late 2000s)

The late 2000s saw another major leap in web design evolution, the arrival of what is generally called Web 2.0. Design took a second seat to the ever more important content of a website. For the first time design had to support a specific function rather than having a cool effect that tended to distract your visitors. The arrival of Asynchronous Javascript and XML (Ajax) allowed for interactive content that would change without refreshing the page. And HTML5 made it possible to develop advanced graphics without Flash.


The Mobile Web (2010 – Present)

The next step in web design evolution was the arrival of the mobile web. The foundation laid in the Web 2.0 phase combined with the development of smartphones and tablets made surfing the web a mobile experience. By no longer being harnessed to a desktop or laptop computer users were able to access the web on the go, and that really made things interesting. The mobile user had much different requirements, and that in turn led to the development of mobile apps and services. It also brought changes to the design of a website. Minimal became a buzzword as users were more likely to access a website on a mobile device and required a different experience. Skinny, easily scrollable pages became the norm and navigation menus were kept to a minimum.


The Future ( 2016 – ….)

So where will web design evolution lead next? Obviously we will see a greater use of mobile devices for surfing the web, making a traditional desktop or laptop computer obsolete. Cloud based apps and services will further enhance the mobile experience, and we will see the internet becoming an even more integral part of our daily lives, if we like it or not! Personally I look forward to having my super smart phone use web-based applications to control the jet car we were promised long before Tim decided that web-based spread sheets would become all the rage! Or maybe I will just hold out for personal teleporting.


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Want To Talk About Web Design Evolution?

And if you are still not sure how all this came about? Simply say hello, and our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and fill you in on the evolution of web design. That is one of our ‘geeky’ specialties, after all!


We are experts at all things web related! At Studio 5 Innovation, we offer a full range of small business web design and digital marketing services, including web design and development, content strategy and creation, search engine optimization, and organic social media services.


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Do you have anything to add to our brief version of web design evolution? Please feel free leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And help your audience with their web design history (you never know when there will be a surprise quiz!) by sharing our web design evolution with them!


By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / Digital Disruption Evangelist

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