Team 8 Digital: Blog

The history of Web Design

Created: 25/08/17 Author: Ryan

Front end web design has been around for quite some time. Websites, the web, and web design all play an important role in today's society. It's hard to believe just how far web design has actually come since it started way back in 1989.

But, that doesn't actually seem that long ago now does it?

Sure, the internet has been around for a while, there was once a time where we had computers the size of living rooms. And now, they're the size and thickness of a piece of paper.

Generally speaking, the history of web design started way back in 1989, and in this historic blog about the history of web design, I will take you back to when web design first started, and see how history has changed web design. Read on to find out more

Web Design in 1989

Back in the dark ages of web design it was quite vague. Rather, very simple. Screens was literally black and there was only a few pixels to play with. Web design was made up with fine pixels and symbols.

There wasn't really much that you could do with web design back in 1989.

But it was possible to build a few rather simple user interfaces.

Beyond this, there wasn't really much you could do with web design back then. The history of web design really has shown around this year. So let's move on, forward in time and see how much things have changed.

Web Design - designing with tables in 1995

It was around this time in the web design history that browsers were being introduced, and with this came a large boom in the web design industry. Designers could now display content on their pages using tables. Of course, nowadays, we don't use tables for much other than data handling. But back in 1995 if you wanted to write content on a page like a block of text, you'd have to write it into a table.

The structure of tables wasn't very easy to understand in this time of history. If you wanted to write static words, such as the word HELLO. Then you'd have to have a HTML table, with table rows and table columns within rows. All of this likely took up 9 lines of HTML code just to write this one word within a table.

Not very efficient.

The history of web design isn't far from done in this history about web design blog. And there's still many more years forward in time to go.

We're now going to jump slightly forward in time, to the later years of 1995

Moving forward in time - JavaScript arrives in 1995

At around this time in 1995 JavaScript was released. At this time it was the answer to HTML, the things that HTML couldn't do, JavaScript could do instead.

JavaScript meant that web pages could now become more dynamic for the user, it meant that content could be updated dynamically. However, at this time it was rather a problem.

JavaScript often required other elements to be loaded first, and whilst usually in web design other elements tend to load before all of the JavaScript in today's century, it was a bigger problem back in 1995.

At about the same time, except moving forward a year to 1996 there was another breakthrough in the history of web design. And that was Flash.

We're going to move on to talk a little about how Flash had impacted the history of web design back around this time in the next section.

History of web design: Flash - 1996

At around this time in the history of web design. Flash was introduced. Flash was meant to break through the limitations of JavaScript and HTML back in 1996, Flash was an exciting part of the history of web design, and opened the doors for other coding languages and possibilities of web design to follow.

Flash became popular in 1996 as long as the user had the latest Flash plugin installed and some extra time on their hands to wait for the Flash packet to be sent to the browser and displayed to the user.

Flash wasn't too open, or user friendly back in this time, and for that reason it consumed a fair amount of processing power to make all of the fancy animations and details work.

CSS - 1998

Nowadays, it's likely that all websites will use CSS in some way, shape or form. Without CSS there would simply be no style, colour or design structure within web designs on the internet. CSS, also known as a Cascading Style Sheet were far from flexible back in the history of web design in 1998.


There was a problem with CSS around this time, apart from lacking functionality and not being very flexible, it was rather quite buggy too. This was also the time were browsers had new features introduced, which seemed great for the history of web design, but, whilst some browsers had newer features, older browsers didn't support these features.

This made it to be an absolute nightmare for web designers in 1998.

Moving rapidly forward in the history of web design brings us up to the year 2007 which we'll discuss in the next part of this blog.

Keep reading to find out more

Web design responsiveness - Grids and Frameworks in 2007

There was once a time where creating responsive and fluid web designs that were compatible with most modern and older browsers took a large chunk of time out of the everyday web design process.

If a web designer wanted to create a 3 column layout, he/she would have to create a div structure with classes specific to that particular layout.

Imagine, 3 columns on the page with content in each one which automatically changes to a mobile responsive layout as the screen changes. With new frameworks like Zurb Foundation and Bootstrap this would be relatively straightforward to do. But this wasn't possible before 2007.

And this is one of the reasons frameworks were introduced.

More and more web designers started to use frameworks due to their ease of use and functionality.

There was a downside to these frameworks, and this point still exists nowadays, that being that web designs often looked the same.

Responsive Web Design - 2010

Responsive web design was a thing that challenged web designers a long time ago.

Once, there was no responsive web designs in the history of web design until 2010 whereby web designers started implementing more responsive websites into their designs.

There isn't much more to say about responsive web design here. Mobile phones were getting smarter, more technology and the addition of newer browsers and compatibility.

Flat Web Design - 2010

Flat websites were being introduced in 2010 also.

This meant that designs took less time to create, and were more streamlined. Fancy shadow effects were becoming a thing of the past and bold, simple colours, muted colours where being introduced into web design.

The main benefit of flat web design was that it was part of every design process for designers, it was simple, easy to implement and allowed for iconography to be introduced as well.

So that leads us onto the final part of the history of web design blog that we've got here.

How web design is looking up for the future.

The future of web design - 2014 onwards

The future of web design is beginning to look brighter for most web designers, new technologies and processes are becoming more popular.

Languages such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery are changing, they're getting more advanced every day.

The future of web design looks like new units in CSS these will include units such as: VH and VW which will allow for much greater flexibility in positioning elements.

Another component of the future of web design includes flex box which is being heavily used more and more by web designers.

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