Design in a nutshell
A Brief History of Web Programming and Design
Although internet and websites have only been with us for the last few decades, they have undoubtedly become an inseparable part of our life. It is near to impossible to imagine the internet without animated pictures, fancy text, background music, amazing layouts and backgrounds. Over the years, web design has come a long way and yet, ironically, it is still in its developing stage. The evolution from text-based sites to highly dynamic ones took place within a short span of period.
How did all this happen? This write-up will help you understand how websites (and internet as well) passed through various developmental stages and reached its current phase, marked by unparallel freedom of design.
Early Beginnings of Internet and Web Design
Nearly a quarter of century ago, internet was invented by a team of experts, who strived hard to connect computers and make data-transferring easy. In its embryonic stage of development, internet was considered to be a luxurious facility enjoyed by limited number of people and organizations. As it was reliable for transferring data from one computer to another, it was primarily utilized by scientists, military, doctors, university scholars and governments - all used it for communicating information within the group.
It was August 1991 when the first website came into existence in the history of World Wide Web, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee for connecting Internet communication with Hypertext. No doubt, both had been in vogue for decades but with limitations: the internet for carrying emails and the Usenet while hypertext for browsing data saved on a single computer, such as interactive CD-ROM design.
Then in 1992, Mosaic was developed and launched as a first browser, which is primarily credited with popularizing the World Wide Web by allowing public to access online content free of cost. Designed by Eric Bina and Marc Andreesen, this browser was originally compatible with the Unix system; however, two years later it could be run on other operating systems as well, including Windows, Mac, Amiga OS.
Let us have a look how web design underwent through different phases and reached its current culminating point.
The First Generation Websites" Text-Based Websites
Though the concept of hypertext was originally conceived by Ted Nelson, who aimed at delivering all texts to the digital screen, but, as we have already mentioned, it was Tim Berners-Lee who conjoined the Internet with the hypertext coding language in 1990s. During this stage, HTML was the only coding language available to web designers, who kept on hunting new ways of web design.
This period could be termed as the Bronze Age of web development as all websites used the simple HTML with lots of text, links and tables, and having little or zero graphics. Known as "the first generation websites" these were neither design-centered nor meant for entertainment, with their primary objective being the functional communication.
In the meanwhile, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was established to discourage big companies from monopolizing and misusing the web design code. Had only once company been at the helm of web coding and design, the picture of web design would have been much different. Till date, W3C has been governing quite responsibly the coding techniques, guidelines and rules. Web designers are bound to adhere to its guidelines, as any deviation can take a toll on websites in search engines and browsers.
The Second Generation Websites: An Addition of Graphics
The first browser Mosaic was, then, followed by Netscape web browser, which was released in November, 1994. Soon after its development, Netscape became a most favorite and leading browser and started creating many a tag. In order to maintain a distinction between the early HTML tags and the latest codes, the latter were named "HTML second generation".
The second generation of HTML added graphics to the early version of websites, allowing web developers more freedom to embellish their designs. Since internet also became faster at that time, web designers took it as a good omen for further uplifting their struggle, as internet posed no more resistance to heavy graphics.
The Third Generation Websites: A New World of Animated Images
In 1995, the third generation of HTML emerged because designers had started creating more complex codes and tags. They would successfully use style sheets and HTML B tables. In the same year, Microsoft also released its own browser, namely Internet Explorer, laying the foundation of a new age of World Wide Web.
During this phase, designers enjoyed more freedom to customize and embellish their web designs. Web sites featured patterned or colorful backgrounds. Animated images were also introduced, thanks to the development of.gif. Another breakthrough was the development of Flash, which was welcomed as a breeze of fresh air, for changing the entire landscape of web design, transforming static pages into dynamic ones.
The Fourth Generation Web Sites: Web Designing at its Best
This new version has also introduced many innovative syntax features, such as the integration of SVG content, and the addition of "audio", "video" and "canvas". Thus embedding multimedia into the content is quite easy and does not require extra plug-ins. To enhance the semantic value of the content, the HTML five boasts many other features: "article", "header", "section", etc.
In addition to eliminating the need for additional plugins like flash, java and videos, HTML 5 is increasingly improving and moving by leaps and bounds towards every direction. It impressively works with all famous web browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome.