The Evolution of Web Design


In many ways, the Internet still feels like new technology – but the truth is that the earliest web pages were built more than 25 years ago, long enough for web design to have developed a robust legacy of its own. The sleek websites of today barely resemble the bald interlinked text of the early 1990s, but we couldn’t have gotten to where we are today without the innovations of Web designers, coders and technology creators along the way. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see just how far we’ve come!

The Early Years

The earliest websites, built around 1990, were simple text documents linked together with hyperlinks embedded in the text. At the time, the Internet was more of an interlinked textbook than what we have today, and Web design was an unheard-of job title.

Within a few short years, however, HTML advanced to allow for modifications to a site’s appearance, changing things like background colors and images, text color and size, embedded images and more. The best of these mid-90s sites were coded into tables to keep content easy to navigate and pleasantly arranged. The worst were garish explosions of animated clipart and tiled backgrounds clashing against bright text. Fortunately, around this time businesses began to understand the importance of attractive websites, and web design – separate from coding – began to come into its own.

The Rise of Flash and Java

By the early 2000s, a few new technologies came onto the scene to change the look of the Internet. These tools were Flash and Javascript, and both could be used to incorporate many elements that we take for granted today, like animated menus and effects. They reigned supreme for several years until Web 2.0 arrived, bringing with it HTML5 and an unprecedented level of control over the look and feel of a website.

By the 2010s, websites had become extremely sophisticated and personalized. The days of boxing content into square tables are long gone. Websites of today can be sleek and minimalist or packed with multimedia content – and many incorporate social elements like blogs, social media sharing, comment sections, videos and more to make the Internet more engaging and user-focused than ever before. If the Internet of the 1990s was like a textbook, today’s Web is like a roundtable discussion where everyone can have a voice.

Today’s Responsive Designs

Aside from an unprecedented level of personalization and interactivity, today’s websites are noteworthy for their fluid, device-ready designs. More people are using smart phones and tablets to access the Internet these days, and the best sites will look great on any size of screen, choice of browser or operating system. This isn’t an easy task. Fortunately, today’s Web designers – or at least the experienced designers working at companies like – are up to the challenge.