The Ages of Web Design

Web Design has come a long way since 1991: since the first website was published. Exclusively based on text, this first website marked the beginning of what would be a digital revolution. I still remember those “under construction” screens plagued with GIFs and blinding background colors make me grateful for how far web design has come, there are some historic web design options that, in fact, demand a gesture of approval.

Let’s take a walk through the memories and look at how web design has evolved (for good and for bad) over the past two decades.

The Ages of Web DesignThe beginning

Before the end of the 90’s, there was nothing else like the “high speed” in Internet connections. Therefore, the websites of these early eras had to be built for these connection speeds that we now consider ridiculous.

This link is a snapshot of the CERN site, the first website, as it was in November 1992. The Web was publicly announced on August 6, 1991.

They were composed largely of text, and what we now take for granted as “design” did not exist. While later versions of HTML allowed for more complex design capabilities, they were still very basic, and consisted mainly of headers, paragraphs, and links. Visual considerations, such as typography, images and navigation were part of dreams.

While the function of these first pages was purely informative, there are some design elements these days that still apply. These early sites were very light, optimized for slow Internet connection that then existed . These design considerations took into account the user experience – something that today’s websites do not always remember, despite our faster connection speeds.

Yes, today’s internet can handle rich media websites … but it still has some limits. Large media files and intense graphic design can contribute to high rebound rates when loading speeds are not as fast as expected. That is why we should always keep the user in mind when considering a complicated design.

Middle age

The average age of web page design is affected by page builder programs and GIF spacers (worse than a pest!).

In the mid-1990s, web design evolved in terms of both structure and appearance.

Designers began using table-based layouts to organize content, allowing for greater flexibility and creativity.

The sites still had a lot of text, but this text could now be divided into columns, rows and other navigation elements.

The elements of graphic design also became very popular. Hit counters, animated text and frantic GIF movements are just some of the graphic elements that mark this period in web design.

Today, there are a lot of reasons why table-based design is not the best choice for your website – slow page load times, visual inconsistency … In any case, this development was very important In the evolution of web design. It was the beginning of a movement directed towards the structure of the page. Different elements can now be placed in different sections of a web page, for which designers had to consider how best to present information to the user.

Today the structure of the page remains important and becomes critical when thinking about such design elements as navigation, content, and calls to action. Placement of these elements will determine how a user experiences and interacts with your site. These factors are definitely definitive today.

The Renaissance

Web Design has gone through many stages in terms of visualization, but one of the first was the introduction of the flash. Developed in 1996, it became popular a couple of years later, Flash opened a world of design possibilities that were not possible with basic HTML. It was the marriage of virtual graphics and interaction.

Although many of the same design elements from the previous era were still present, these were improved with new features such as color changing navigation, tile background images, neon colors, 3D buttons …

This marked the beginning of user – focused design: Structure and navigation became important considerations and the design began to focus on the appearance and usability .

Since Flash has been considered one of the biggest SEO sins of all time, let’s take this as an example of what you should not do. While the increase in the use of multimedia content was intended to attract more visitors, it probably had the opposite effect.

Even better, opting for alternative applications like JavaScript or HTML5 gets similar and more beneficial effects


The decade of the 2000 brought with it an increase of the support of the CSS, which allowed the separation of content and design. This gave more creative freedom to web designers and developers. This made websites easier to maintain (less code and complexity), more flexible (div tags are independent) and faster loading.

Another vision of color produced the increase in blanks and the diminution of gaudy colors, such as neon. The links began to join the icons instead of just text, the resolution and pixelation became more important concerns, and considerations about the placement of content also grew.

Overall, it was a period when usability became more important than other design elements.

People typically look for websites, looking for just the information they need – so any site that makes this work easier for the user gets a very important advantage.

An expert web designer is aware of the fact that most users do not read everything on a website, and they must understand how readers take the information: An Information should be in an intuitive place, with visually accented links and a Simple navigation.

These are just some of the best practices that today’s websites must meet. Always design thinking about the user!

The industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution of web design begins with the birth of Web 2.0, it is at this moment when they begin to move towards the modern web.

The growth of multimedia applications, the application of interactive content, and the rise of social networks are some of the defining characteristics of this period.

Moreover, these characteristics largely determine the shape of the design.

Aesthetic changes include better color distribution, increased use of icons, and greater attention to typography. The design was tailored to the content and, apart from that annoying Flash, the content was made about SEO. With the user now firmly as the hub for design, selling products (at least explicitly) became the secondary function of websites.

The evolution of Web 2.0 saw the growth of SEO as something to take very into account. While these techniques have been adapted, obviously over the years, still today what prevails is thinking about a website in SEO terms.

SEO requires content, and content became heavily on the web design center at this time. Keyword optimization, link building, authoring, tagging, and syndication technology as RSS became natural design elements.


Today, more than two decades after the publication of the first web page, web design has been firmly established as an irreplaceable component of any good marketing strategy. In terms of modern aesthetics, we have seen the proliferation of minimalism, flat graphics, diversity of typographies, and large background images. In addition, UX (user experience) has taken center stage, giving way to design features such as infinite scrolling and single-page design.

The explosion of the mobile web has been another important factor for the development of the sites.

This recent digital revolution has given way to the popularization of mobile-adaptive design or “responsive design” and requires a new evaluation of how websites are structured. This is an area of web design that still has a long way to go in its development.

Anyway, there is a factor that appears in each and every one of stages: the content. Each design element has been adapted in such a way that the content is sent to the user in a more efficient and effective way. The notions of accessibility, adaptability and ease of use really define this era of web design. With this evolution, I can not imagine how far it will be in the next few years.

But the most important thing … When did you last?

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