Early Internet

Since the commercialization of the internet, Web Design has gone through dramatic changes. Early users had to be proficient in navigating directories and generally technologically savvy.With the introduction of Search Engines and newer, more efficient code, the web became a more user-friendly place over time.

What started out as an infrastructure for government and military use now was available to the masses in forms that we may not even recognize today. Floppy disks provided internet browsers like Netscape for early adopters of the internet. Dial-up internet access was a breakthrough in internet technology, and when broadband finally hit, it was a miracle that you could have internet without taking up the phone lines.

Web Design Then and Now

Responsive web designOnce the internet became fairly widespread, companies began to take notice of its potential as a marketing tool, as well as the importance of a good reputation and image on the World Wide Web. An intuitive, easy to navigate website with useful information, links, and services that was easy on the eyes was soon discovered to be the best way to attract more and more web traffic.

What started out as low resolution strings of text soon turned into higher resolution, organized home and sub-pages with different styles, colors, pictures, and eventually ads which is more reminiscent of the internet as it is today.

While the internet as it is today is certainly an improvement over what it was ten or twenty years ago, there is still so much to improve upon. Hurdles have been introduced in the past few years with the rapid proliferation of the smartphone and later, tablet. Those in Web Design faced the problem of adapting a desktop internet browsing experience to be natural, and more user-friendly on these new devices with smaller screens. The Real Costs of Responsive Websites is still something many companies and webmasters are struggling with today.

Is Touch the Future, or Something Else?

Windows Phone

Recent trends in Web Design and Development have focused on websites that are visually pleasing. Building websites has evolved into more of an art rather than something that is intended to be utilitarian. There has been an abandoning of traditional lists and sub-pages in favor of a more “modern” or tile/image based navigation system. Streamlining the user experience by creating fluid page transitions with animations and a seamless integration of touch controls has dominated the last few years of Web Design.

It is hard to determine whether this is here to stay, or whether it is simply another trend in the constant evolution of the web. There has been some backlash in response to the adoption of touch interfaces and tile based navigation as evidenced by the generally negative reception of Microsoft’s Windows 8. But in other applications the change has been accepted as an improvement like in the recent revamp of websites like ebay.com, and mobile operating systems such as iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Even if this “modern” interface is temporary, it is currently the trademark of relevant, up-to-date websites and gives visitors a good first impression. Web Design and Development is a vital part of boosting web traffic and increasing site authority. Keeping up with the newest innovations and changes in the Web Design world is essential to maintaining positive internet interactions.

Photo Credit: Robert Occhialini, Vernon Chan

Jamie Bates