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A Brief History of Web Design

Web design is quite a recent discipline and has links to similar professions such as graphic design. Web design can also be seen from a technological viewpoint as it has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Whenever we browse the internet, we come across web design in a million different varieties – through animations, typography, music and videos.

The birth of the web and web design

It all started with a guy named Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 while he was employed at CERN. He wanted to create a global hypertext project, to later become known as the world wide web. The internet was born between 1991 and 1993 but it was still only possible to view text-only pages using a line-mode browser.

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In 1993, the Mosaic browser created by Eric Bina and Marc Andreessen became the first browser to integrate elements of graphic design with images and sound. In the immediate years after this, a browser war began between competing companies vying for greater influence over the web.

The birth of browsers that displayed images was the beginning of the web design that we know today. HTML was still very limited though and it wasn’t until 1995 and the breakthrough of Javascript that things got a little more interesting. Now you could include a pop-up window or dynamically change the order of something. The problem with it, was that it had to be loaded separately as it was layered on top of the elements that made the web work. To keep your site up-to-date, have a Cardiff web designer assess it. Find one at

The next advance was a technology that offered a freedom of design not seen before. Flash allowed designers the ability to use any animations, shapes, layouts, font and interactions all with one tool. The introduction of Flash was the beginning of sites with animations, splash pages and interactive aspects. It consumed an awful lot of processing power however and lost popularity from 2007 onwards.

From 2007 onwards, browsing on mobile phones also became a consideration for web design. This presented a whole new challenge for designers. As well as all the different device layouts on the market, there were also content parity issues to consider like should the design be the same on a small screen or be reduced to a more basic version. The speed at which sites loaded was another consideration. The first thing introduced to help this was the concept of column grids.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, the world wide web has become completely integrated into our daily lives. The web has evolved in this time to reflect the demands of users. For example, more people now browse the internet from mobile devices than desktop computers, so the way sites are designed has had to change.

The next step for web design on mobile was the concept of responsive design. This is using the same content but displayed on different layouts depending on the device design.  For designers, this means making up multiple layouts and for the developer, it means how images are displayed, download speeds and semantics for example. However, for the user – it means it works on their mobile phone!

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