There’s no doubt about it: website design as an industry is here to stay. From gigantic online shopping stores to smaller, niche websites, just about every company these days has an online presence, often delivered through a third-party website designer or at least a free template. Using today’s websites, we can order Christmas gifts and make charitable donations – all without leaving the comfort of our own homes.
With the state of the Internet as it is, it’s easy to forget that not ten or fifteen years ago, everything was different. Smart phones didn’t access the internet – in fact, they weren’t even “smart phones” yet. Internet access wasn’t as high a priority to apartment managers, librarians, or hotel managers yet. But today, website design has become a part of how we interact the world on a daily basis. So how exactly did we get from point A to point B, and where does this mean we’re headed? First, let’s take a look at how website design started out.
The First Websites
The Internet has been around longer than many people think – it’s been said that Queen Elizabeth sent her first e-mail in the 1970′s. But the Internet then and the Internet today are two massively different things.
In 1994, the White House launched its first website, followed by the Vatican in 1995. By the late 1990′s, e-mail had become a part of our daily lives, and the popularity of services like America Online coined phrases like “You’ve Got Mail.”
It was largely throughout the 1990s that the Internet boomed to what we would consider the Internet to be these days. Though the connections were slower a decade and a half ago, the Internet still granted such an easy way to handle communication and mailing that it was lightspeed compared to snail mail. With the ability to use search engines in order to find different websites out there, website designers saw an increasingly large industry built around the ability to construct professional websites for people who knew nothing about the new technology.
This era, now commonly referred to as “Web 1.0,” did a lot to change the way people bought products, shopped, found information, and communicated with each other. Website designers had plenty of opportunity to find new customers that were interested in launching their own web presence.
The Bursting Bubble
The Internet became such a rapidly growing phenomenon that it eventually burst as a bubble in the stock market, as overvalued Internet companies failed on their investors and created what’s now known as the “Dot Com Bubble.” But the website design field as an industry was only ramping up.
Although the Dot Com Bubble forced many people to realistically estimate the value of Internet companies, the phenomenon continued to spread, and as faster connections encouraged users to spend more time online, the Internet became even more popular. Website design grew increasingly customizable, and different languages like CSS became more prevalent.
Eventually, the advanced in website design technology gave birth to what’s known as “Web 2.0,” in which more customization and greater, simpler interfaces allowed more people to generate their own websites, blogs, and other attractions. In essence, Web 2.0 gave the power of website design more to the people who didn’t have a lot of experience.
Today, you can launch a blog using a platform like WordPress, utilizing a free template from a website designer who already did the design work for you. Or you can hire a website design expert who understands how to create customizable templates according to your vision.
Web 2.0 has also seen the boom of the social media website – sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace gave every person an easy Internet presence that has attracted millions upon millions of visitors. Today, it’s hard to avoid the commonly-recognized aspects of website design, like the blue bird from Twitter or the recognizable interface of Facebook.
Website Design in the Future
Where is website design taking us? We know that in the past, better website design has led to more simplicity, better interface, more customization, and greater accessibility. In short, it has quickly become the mainstream. In the future, we can expect that the Internet will spread to other forms of technology – as it already is doing in cellular phones and with televisions – and will slowly be integrated into just about every gadget we have lying around.
Website design will advance just as the Internet does, which means the future is promising for designers who stay up-to-date on all of the latest technology and follow the latest trends. But there will be challenges when it comes to valuing the Internet, as we learned in the Dot Com Bubble, and privacy issues, as well. But if the Internet can improve the quality of life of everyone in the world, it’s worth pursuing.