Is it possible to imagine that one day there will be no more Google? Or will there be no more Amazon or news websites or weather forecasts? Can we and our children imagine the world without the internet and websites? Have you ever wondered if website design has a history or not? How and when did websites enter our lives? Were the sites like this from the beginning or not? What changes have been made to the structure of the sites and why?

Well, web design also has a history and, yes, the life of websites and site design is not long. But this is not the reason why website design has not gone through changes and has reached here overnight. By the way, it is very important and useful for website design enthusiasts or even developers to know the history of website design. Because the history of website design is also the history of the evolution of programming languages and the needs of users and businesses. Every evolution and development in web design has a reason.

This content is about the history of website design. Next, I will tell you that website design has had a short-but-ups-and-down life. It is also necessary to mention that the division of the content in this article is based on the most important developments and developments that have happened in the design of the site in certain timeframes.

History of website design

It all started in 1989. This means that only 33 years have passed since the World Wide Web and websites! And of course, in the beginning, there was no such thing as website design. Because there was nothing to design at all. The features and languages that add colors, photos and designs to the site have not yet been created. The first websites were not at all similar to what we call a site today, and for example, we can buy from them and enter our bank card information.

You can’t talk about the history of web design, but you didn’t talk about the birth of the first browsers, CSS and JavaScript. As mentioned in the introduction, the history of web design is linked with the developments that happened in the world of technology and programming languages. Another very important point that should be paid attention to in this regard, and unfortunately, very little attention has been paid to it. It is to know and understand what was the main motivation for building the first site and the developments in this field.

The first site was created in 1991 at a research institute with the aim of being a platform for sharing information and results of scientific findings with other researchers. So, in a word, the World Wide Web and websites were created and developed primarily to facilitate the free flow of information in the world.

Let’s read more about that goal from the creator of the world’s first website, as well as the creator of the HTML markup language, which is the cornerstone of the web’s structure:

“The goal of the web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine. Tim Berners-Lee”

Tim Berners-Lee: Creator of the first website

Tim Berners-Lee is a British scientist who worked and researched at the CERN research institute. One of his important projects in this institute was the design of the World Wide Web, a global network that allowed people to retrieve all kinds of information around the world using the Internet. The ground was set for the first site to be built: the World Wide Web, which was born in 1983. Now something (template) was needed to put and display the information. Therefore, the next step was to create the HTML markup language. That format could be made with html. Now that everything was ready, Tim Berners-Lee created the first site belonging to the same research institute. A one-page site that is still maintained the same way.

CERN published the result of the project and made it available to everyone. So other research institutes and universities are also able to create their own sites. It only took 2 years for the first browser to be born: ALIWEB. This browser is still available. A little later, businesses began to take advantage of this opportunity to create business websites. Although the sites were still static and could not provide many facilities for businesses and users, in 1994 there were almost 3 thousand sites. In the same year, Jeff Bezos introduced Amazon to the world and this was the beginning of the development of websites.

JavaScript, CSS, CMS & SEO

Developments and developments that happened in the next 11 years (1995 to 2006) made the sites dynamic and interactive. That is, it allowed users to have limited interactions with the site. Sites were no longer just a simple page. Colors and visual elements, photos and tables were added to it. Part of this power and facilities were given to sites via the JavaScript programming language, which was released to the world in 1995. After that, a more advanced version of HTML was created and, in 1996, CSS revolutionized the world of web design.

It was at this time that visual and aesthetic elements became important in the site. Sites found two distinct parts: front-end and back-end. Website design made sense and web design was distinguished from pure programming (coding). Every day, the number of sites that were built for commercial purposes are added. In 1998, Google was born. It didn’t take long for Google to become the most popular search engine and had a significant impact on the development of the Internet as well as website design. One of the most important effects was the emergence of a concept called Search Engine Optimization or site optimization for search engines.

In 2000, PayPal enabled online payments and online transactions. This means a new opportunity for internet businesses and the growth and expansion of store sites. Parallel to all these developments, laptops and tablets and the first mobile phones came to the market and, in 2004, Facebook was born. All this means that every day the number of Internet users and those who want a website for various reasons are added. This growing need made people think of making it easier for people to have a website.

So CMS (Content Management System) or content management systems were released to the market. The most popular and powerful content management system in the world, WordPress, which is built on more than 40% of the sites on the web today; It was made available to the public in 2003.

Flat Design

All the evolutions of website design from 2007 to today can be summarized in these few words: more interactive websites, user experience, versions compatible with different devices (Responsive Web Design) and user-oriented website design. In 2007, the first Apple mobile phone was launched and changed everything. After that, more advanced Apples with touch screens were launched. More users were browsing the Internet with mobile phones, which means that the sites had to be designed compatible and suitable for mobile phones. For this reason, concepts such as a mobile user experience and mobile-friendly design have gained special importance in web design.

The website design goes towards simplicity (Flat Design or flat design). It means simple design with bright, two-dimensional and minimal colors. If at the beginning of website design, the use of colors, photos, and different visual elements was dominant, today it is no longer the case. The design of the site should be in accordance with the user’s needs and the specific user’s taste for each site. Web design has become very subject-oriented. Designing a store site is different from a news site.

Everything in recent years and the future of website design revolves around the phrase “sites should be designed for users”. The goal is no longer just to reach scientists all over the world with the results of scientific research through a website. Users buy everything from sites. They pay the bills. They find work through websites. They make friends on websites and share the good moments of their lives with others. For this reason, the design of the site and the structure of the site should be such that the user can interact with the site easily and with the least problems and challenges. User interface design and design thinking and human-centered design have become an integral part of web design.


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