The History of Web Design

American scientists created an interconnected computer network in the 1950s. The concept of the contemporary internet was developed in 1969 when Tim Berners-Lee created the first browser that he called the World Wide Web. The British computer scientist introduced the first website, which he periodically updated to provide visitors information regarding the use of the browser. Decades later, utilitarian web designs consisted of a blinking cursor and text. Academic institutions used rudimentary systems to relay a few bytes of text from one terminal to another. Early websites did not have images. When color pages were introduced, monitors could only support 16 hues.

The modern era of web design began in the early 1990s when HTML, a code that could be read by web browsers, was developed. HTML made it easier to compose web pages. Early browsers like Mosaic enabled designers to display images as well as text. The introduction of JavaScript simplified the process. Flash made it easier to create dynamic designs like popup windows. Monitor resolution grew to support 256 colors, which allowed web pages to feature dazzling colors to draw readers’ attention. Flash allowed the use of splash pages, opening animations and various interactive effects. 

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) was introduced to address many design problems associated with Flash. It enabled the separation of the site’s content from its aesthetics. Regardless of the device used to access a site, the program enabled designers to achieve the desired look and performance of their web pages. Although early versions of CSS were not very flexible, the program is now one of the most important design tools because it allows developers to use the full potential of browsers. Once they have registered with, these new formats make it easier for people to gain an internet presence. 

As web design matured in the late 1990s and early 2000s, websites expanded their content. Web masters improved access to information and navigation by creating catalogues and menus. There was less content on a single page and an increased use of mini pages. The release of CSS 2.0 provided designers with further innovations and unprecedented power to integrate animated content. There was an increased emphasis on readability and functionality as connection speeds and higher resolution monitors created more design options. Web pages incorporated scrolling designs, stock photography and videos as well as design elements that resembled their real-world counterparts.

With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, designers had to decide whether to deliver the same content or less information to small screens that are now prevalent on smart phones and tablets. The challenge required developers to revisit the minimalist approach that defined the early history of web design. There is an increased use of flat colors and straightforward design elements to create responsive designs. Still using CSS and HTML, today’s designers create multiple layouts that deliver content parity on various formats. Available options for designers include JavaScript animations, parallax and animate GIFs. Website designs continue to evolve so that developers can deliver customers the best possible aesthetics and functionality.