The early days of the Web

I’ve been in Web Design now for over 18 years. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of changes that had a great impact within the industry – among many, the launch of Google, WordPress Blogs, the way Flash transformed rich media, the advent of CSS and the introduction of responsive design for mobiles and tablets.

How I became a Web Designer

It all began in the year 2000. My previous employment was completely different from my work today. I had been a draughtsman, sculptor and studio artist, and a self-employed manufacturer of animated display figures with my partner Donna.

The work was mostly seasonal, and the industry was starting to show a decline as Christmas and Easter animated displays became less and less visible in shopping arcades. As it became increasingly difficult to secure contracts, I realised that I had to change tack, and find an alternative choice of career is I was to adapt to change.

It was approaching the year 2000, and the web had all the momentum of the Goldrush in the 1800s. I embraced this new technology, burying myself in as many books as I could about HTML and Web Design. The government at that time was offering training, with a good chance of leading to employment with a temporary subsidised wage. Thankfully, with some hard work and intuition, I gained my first role as a Web Designer in the year 2000, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

The early days of the Web

In those early days, things were very different. I remember reading about a new search engine with a funny name called Google being launched. At that time, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves were among the most popular. No one had a clue just how widespread they would become, and how much they would change the way we live today. In 2006 they bought YouTube, and it quickly became apparent to everyone in web design, just how powerful this could be in terms of utilising a free streaming video service that could be embedded in a web page, linked to their already incredibly powerful search engine. With the intervention of Google Maps and Google Earth, many third parties struggled to keep paid services going as this industry giant marched from strength to strength.

Adobe

Adobe was the industry standard in media design software at the time, but a new company called Macromedia was bringing in revolutionary software such as Dreamweaver, Fireworks and of course Flash. Numerous court cases were constantly going on claiming infringements on each other’s interfaces etc. until Adobe finally bought Macromedia in 2005 for 3.4 billion dollars. The combined suite of tools now being driven and developed by Adobe is truly amazing.

The Birth of Responsive Design

The average screen size in the year 2000 was just moving from 800 x 600 to 1024 x768. Widescreens didn’t exist. But even then, we could see the problems associated with moving layouts between different resolutions. With the advent of the smartphone and tablets, responsive design became more and more crucial. WordPress had given people a taste of freedom to control their own blog through a built-in content management system, which of course led to the full website creation software we all know today

Where it’s Going

Summing up, I think things were more difficult in those early days when you had to rely more on HTML and JavaScript, and where a knowledge of basic coding was a distinct advantage. 18 years on the web has evolved to become a place where designers with layout skills and little or no knowledge of coding can be just as effective in the marketplace, using the tools available created for that end user in mind.

Relatively speaking, having seen how far we’ve come in such little time, I can’t help but wonder what the web will be like in the next 20 years.

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