The Internet has a short history, but it has interesting anecdotes. Websites form an integral part of the Internet, and by definition web designing. The evolution of web designing is interesting, and has lessons for businesspeople as well as the creative fraternity.
Commercial internet started in the early nineties, with that investors, and people who wanted to use the Internet to make money. Graphics had not evolved as much as they should have, and it would be rare to find an image on a website. Hosting was expensive too, and people stayed away from images. In the early stages of the Internet, form took a backstage when compared to functionality, and the sites were 'texty'.
Designers used HTML, short for hypertext markup language to design websites, and you should not be surprised if the website content in the nineties would be just shy of a GB. You see, there were very few images on a website, and audio and video was unheard of – or at least very expensive. HTML is the core language that codes the Internet, but it has evolved a lot. Third generation HTML allowed for background images, and gave designers the freedom to make their websites more graphic intensive.
It was in the late nineties that Flash was unleashed, and web designers got a tool that could make or break their websites. Many lauded Flash for the beautification that it offered, but many criticized it for making a website too heavy or designed without functionality in mind. In an era when bandwidth was worth gold, websites lost their popularity and traffic because people did not have the speeds to access a heavy Flash based website. Some tried to have two versions, a lighter, HTML version and the full, Flash version of a site. The world considered web designers artists, and websites were art forms. Very few designers understood that the website was also a service, and not just a product.
In addition, the corporate world had either set up their websites, or invested in websites, and was itching to see a RoI. Online shopping was just an entrepreneur's fantasy, and advertising rates on websites were next to nothing, as compared to the advertising rates that businesspeople could charge for their brick and mortar shops. This led to the first Dotcom bubble, which took with its several dot com businesses with less than stellar business plans.
A decade later, a small website named Google came up, and it swiftly changed the way people accessed websites. People used website directories – some of which are still existent – before, they used Google, a search engine that searched relevant websites. Flash became obsolete, because the search engine crawlers could not read a Flash file. Some say that CSS, an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets was the first marriage of form and functionality, and it is true that designers designed more beautiful websites, and began serving functions, even online shopping. With CSS came the concept of minimalist design, where functionality finally took front stage.
With CSS, the Internet finally became a beautiful place, and provided an optimum viewing experience to the users. Today, several websites believe in minimalist designing. With time, newer, better technologies and concepts are making the Internet a better place to live in.
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