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The history of web design: from the Stone Age to the era of modern technology

Despite the fact that in the era of the development of web design, the first web pages were just text with links, and you could only dream of a variety of fonts and special effects, those naive, dense times were remembered by web developers with some kind of longing.

The first sites, the first providers, the first web designers. Monitors with a resolution of 640×480, supporting only 16 colors (!). Black text, blue links, red or pink headlines. Beauty!

Now, with the help of modern tools and technologies, even a student can create his own website for free in one computer science lesson. At the same time, the design, quality and functionality of this site will be an order of magnitude higher than those of the first “swallows” of site building, when web design was created using symbols and tabs.
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At the end of 1993, the long-awaited “breakthrough” occurred on the network – the first Mosaic graphic browser appeared, which marked the beginning of an improvement in the visual transmission of information. Since then, the history of web design has begun to grow at a frantic pace. In just a few years, the number of sites on the Internet has grown from several hundred to tens of thousands.

In 1996, animated GIFs, colorful backgrounds, and overly bright headlines appeared in the design of web pages. Apparently, the generation of web designers thus expressed their joy at the fact that they can finally get away from dullness and everyday life.

In HTML and web design, tables began to be actively used, with the help of which all the information on the web page was structured. At that time, “cutting layouts” was not done by web designers, but by developers.

True, maintaining the performance of fragile table structures was extremely difficult, and the ability to use good graphics (especially with the use of Flash-technologies) was restrained by low monitor resolutions and information transfer rates. That’s how the developers realized that they had ceased to love external interfaces. But this is a completely different story 🙂

Caramel 2000s
The history of web-design development made another qualitative breakthrough in the 2000s, when CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) technology made it possible to separate the content of web pages from their design. 2004-2006 are considered the beginning of the WEB-2.0 era.

At first, the technologies didn’t keep up with the fashion (remember the same rounded corners, the layout of which was done using images), while the fashion, in a sense, “spurred” the technology, which was reflected in improving the functionality and usability of sites. Then the web design masters began to use in their creations:

smooth gradients and soft colors;

rounded objects;

specularity, glossiness, “caramel” in buttons, pictures and icons;

“Special offers” and badges on the main page;

patterns on the background.

Long live mobile content
Until 2007, browsing the web on mobile phones was not a test for the faint of heart. The advent of the iPhone and the massive spread of social networks have spurred the development of mobile applications and websites.

The history of web design has been marked by new challenges. Should I try to display a full version of the site on the tiny screen of a mobile phone, or is it better to refuse some elements of the layout? Where to insert ads? How to download all the site content to the phone with this shameful speed of the mobile Internet?

Using grids with columns when developing a site layout was the first step towards improving the situation. Web designers began to use a grid of 960 pixels, divided into 12 columns.

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The next step was the standardization of site elements: buttons, menus, forms, navigation, as well as the creation of a visual library with a specific code, which made it possible to quickly use each element. The winners were the Foundation and Bootstrap frameworks, which began to blur the line between web design and program code.

This approach has its drawbacks, so where without them. New website designs are increasingly looking the same. And web designers still can’t change ready-made website templates without understanding how the program code works.

Skeuomorphism and responsive web design
In 2010, web designers continue to use CSS and HTML, however, they are increasingly starting to use a new concept called “responsive web design”, which involves displaying the same content using different forms of layouts. Moreover, the understanding of “adaptability” among clients and developers usually differs significantly.

The client thinks: “Yeah, responsive web design … So the site will work well on the phone.” The developer, first of all, thinks about the number of drafts of the layout, the semantic load of the elements, the speed of loading the content, the visual methods of presenting information, the priority of the desktop or mobile version, etc.

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