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The History Of Web Design

The internet has only been around for around 30/40 years now so websites in the scheme of things are actually quite new. So where did it all start?


Here is a brief look into the history of web design, website development and website trends over the years.

What you see today on your screen when you open up an internet browser is actually hypertext markup language (HTML), which structure website content so search engines, browsers and web spiders can interpret it. The browsers themselves are structured in Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This is the language that allows everything to connect.

The first website was developed by Tim Berners Lee in October 1990 at CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, where he worked as a software engineer. By Christmas 1990 he had written code for what would become the world's first web client (browser) and server (website host). His computer that he made the site on was a NeXT workstation, the website was hosted on Berners-Lee's own NeXT computer.

Princeton University professor Eui Chul Richard Shin stated that the first website was which has since been lost and not backed up anywhere. According to Tim Berners-Lee himself, he provided a copy of it to CERN for posterity but someone there threw it away "thinking I would not be coming back to pick it up later". The website was registered with Network Solutions in March 1991 as He also wrote some other programs for transferring files over networks and modifying those files from his browser program called "WorldWide.

If you are not a tech geek a lot of what was just stated probably makes no sense to you. But that's okay :)

So we have discussed how and when websites started. But what about the website designs? When did that start becoming a thing?  

In the mid 1990's people started getting more creative with website layouts and themes. This is when website styles began to resonate from simple text layout and black and white images to bright colors and complex multimedia graphics in website designs. During the late 1990's the rise of HTML standards happened with HTML 3.2 in 1997 and then HTML 4 in 1997 which started leaning towards fully functioning web applications rather than just text documents that were primarily linked together with hyperlinks. Web developers realized this meant instead of having multiple pages on a website they could add links for their visitors to click to access new information such as products or content available only on another page of their site.

So the mid-1990 is when design started becoming important. But why?

The reason was because of the dot com bubble.  When the dot com bubble happen people thought that things were going to change very quickly and we were all going to move online. They were kinda right but as the name suggests "dot com bubble". The technology didn't take of as fats as hoped. But nether the less a lot of money was invested into these early start-up companies. And what do you think they spend the majority of their money on? You got it design.

The design was big on their minds because they wanted a website that looked good and gave the impression of a young, start-up business with all their money in the right place. Which back then would be on design. So this is where website design started to become noticed by more people outside of web development community. People were mainly looking at website designs for aesthetics but also how functional it was or if it had what they needed within their site or not.

As time went on websites became better designed and more people saw website as an important part of their businesses growth. Which lead to more competition between website design companies which brought about new trends in website designs thus making them more functional again. This end up causing a snowball effect within the website design world.

Now website design is more important than ever. And there are a handful of companies that provide website design and website development services.

In conclusion, the history of website design is very important to website design companies. Understanding where website designs have been can help a website designer better understand where website designs are going and how to develop a website that will help them compete within their field.