The History of Web Design

According to some resources the first website (or at least something that can be considered a website) was published back in August 1991. That seems to have been so long ago but yet compared to other human inventions the Internet is still a baby. Let’s shortly review the history of website design science and technics.

I guess all of us would agree that we can’t speak of design at the very early stages of development back in 1990s. The websites were built using very basic HTML tags that a nowadays developer would definitely consider as something that can’t be used to build a website.

Taking into account that the hypertext concept was invented in the 1960′s by Ted Nelson ( wow!!!) I wonder why it took so long for people to make some use of it? In the 1980′s (did anyone know about it?) something similar to Internet in its present understanding was “created” in Europe by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau and then pretty rapidly the mark up language spread around the world. In the 1990s the NCSA team developed the Mosaic and Netscape browsers and so here we are.

On those early stages “web designers” could do very simple formatting of the web pages only- text, tables and hyperlinks. According to http://www.w3.org these are the basic milestones of the early 90s:

  • - September 1991: Open discussion about HTML across the Internet begins
  • - Late 1992: NCSA is starting its game
  • - December 1992: Marc Andreessen makes a brief appearance on WWW- talk. IMG tag is suggested by the Mosaic team.

Probably this year can be called the starting point of website design. Though the websites were not graphically designed prior to coding, the developers started considering how to make their web pages more attractive.

  • - March 1993: Lou Montulli releases the Lynx browser version 2.0a
  • - Early 1993: Dave Raggett begins to write his own browser
  • - April 1993: The Mosaic browser is released

  • - May 1994: The first World Wide Web conference is held in Geneva, with HTML+ on show

During 1993 and 1994 lots of browsers had added their bits of code to HTML. To avoid the mess all the widely used HTML tags were collected into a new document that defined the basis of HTML 2.

In November 1994 the Netscape browser came into life and began inventing its own tags. The WWW community had to follow the leader.

  • In late 1994 the World Wide Web Consortium was formed.

The year on 1995 might have been the one most full of events that influenced the further development of WWW. All kinds of new HTML tags emerged and new HTML 3 came into life giving the world the well known HTML В tables. This same year in August Microsoft’s Internet Explorer got on stage and in September 1995 Netscape submitted a proposal for frames. Same year in November the style sheets for HTML documents begin to take shape.

  • In April 1996 the W3 Consortium working draft on Scripting comes out.

This was the era of new styles, new approach and new possibilities. The appearance of liquid design, the possibility to create nice backgrounds and the long awaiting freedom for website designers. This same time the Flash is being introduced which seems a real miracle after the long years of static pages.

  • January 1997- В HTML 3.2 is ready, spring 1998- the HTML 4.0 is on it’s way.

This was the beginning of everything. For the last 10 years developers have been creating and launching tons of new application, programs, interfaces, modules. The WWW evolved from Homo habilis to aВ  real human.

Basically we can divide web design into generations:

  • -В В В В В В В В  generation one: primarily text with minimal graphics
  • -В В В В В В В В  generation two:В  same simple but yet more complex design
  • -В В В В В В В В  generation 3: colored background, flash, first scripts etc
  • -В В В В В В В В  generation 4: nowadays. Various types of websites full of color, multiple design styles, wide websites, usage of advanced techniques that allow each individual website to be completely unique.

There’s a wonderful website allowing us to get back to the past to see how it all began: http://www.archive.org/web/web.php. Though pages here are archived from 1996 still- it gives a good idea about the progress.

For you to have enough fun we’ve fund the names of the earliest website ever. Some of them are not online any longer while some have more than 20 years history!

1.В В В В В В  5-Mar-1985 SYMBOLICS.COM
2.В В В В В В  24-Apr-1985 BBN.COM
3.В В В В В В  24-May-1985 THINK.COM
4.В В В В В В  11-Jul-1985 MCC.COM
5.В В В В В В  30-Sep-1985 DEC.COM
6.В В В В В В  07-Nov-1985 NORTHROP.COM
7.В В В В В  09-Jan-1986 XEROX.COM
8.В В В В В  17-Jan-1986 SRI.COM
9.В В В В В  03-Mar-1986 HP.COM
10.В В В  05-Mar-1986 BELLCORE.COM
11.В В В  19-Mar-1986 IBM.COM
12.В В В  19-Mar-1986 SUN.COM
13.В В В  25-Mar-1986 INTEL.COM
14.В В В  25-Mar-1986 TI.COM
15.В В В  25-Apr-1986 ATT.COM
16.В В В  08-May-1986 GMR.COM
17.В В В  08-May-1986 TEK.COM
18.В В  10-Jul-1986 FMC.COM
19.В В  10-Jul-1986 UB.COM
20.В В  05-Aug-1986 BELL-ATL.COM

You can find the full list of the websites here.

Sad I couldn’t find any samples of the earlier websites but I guess if you would teach your clild simple tags and give him the notepad as the tool- he’ll show you what it was like :)

See you soon and have a great weekend!

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