History of web design: the 90s

History of web design

Though the history of the Internet started in the late 1960s with the US military experiments, it was not until 1990s that the World Wide Web and with it the first website were born.

Back in the days there were no web designers, system administrators or even programmers, and it all was developed and designed by scientists, and most notably by the father of Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, British physicist and computer scientist who while working at CERN invented the HyperText Markup language (HTML) and created the first website.

Under constructionThe address of the world's first-ever web site was Info.cern.ch, and it was a collection of data on WWW project, hypertext, and other technical details. This website was updated daily, and the only copy of it left is the copy from 1992.

CounterAfter scientists the programmers followed and brought a series of inventions with them. Such new technologies as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Internet browser Mosaic (1993), Macromedia Flash (1996) allowed for graphic design to be incorporated into webpages. Now users had both text and graphic. Those primeval web designs were quite primitive from today’s point of view, just like cave drawings, but to be fair they were created by people far removed from web design, or design at all. The mid 90s in the Internet were the era of enormous technical possibilities, yet very few people knew how to achieve aesthetically pleasing results with those.

One person who knew was Jakob Nielsen, web usability consultant who developed ten general standards for basic user interface design, including Aesthetic and minimalist design and User control and freedom. Another expert who played important part in the development of web design was Jeffrey Zeldman, co-founder of The Web Standards Project who promoted best practices and innovations in web design.

MC HammerLittle by little, Internet was becoming more wide spread and available, and so were the technologies that helped to create more professionally looking websites. These were the days when icons and buttons started replacing words, when the first banners began appearing on the webpages together with the hierarchical menus and site maps. However, there still were very few decent designs, usually the sites looked overloaded with graphic details, variety of fonts and colours, and many reminded Word Art creations of a kid overexcited with its limitless options. The web designer was becoming a profession, but many of those designing for web were graphic designers trying to apply the graphic principles to the web which was not always the best solution. Another obstacle on the way of web design was slow modem connection preventing designers from using imagery and graphics of better quality.

By the end of 90s only corporations, solid businesses and a few web enthusiasts (soon to be named geeks) could afford having a website, but dotcom boom was about to take off and change it all.

To be continued.

How did Yahoo, Apple and other popular websites looked when they launched.

Over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.

McDonalds site in the 90s
Yahoo site in the 90s
Pepsi site in the 90s
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