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The Evolution of Web Design – 1991 to Present Day

Monday, October 09, 2017 | Comments (0)

(This is the final part of a 3-article series that looks at the History of Recycling, Print and Graphic Design, and Web Design)

For people who have grown up with the Internet, it seems like it was only yesterday when the first website was published by Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web, on August 6, 1991. 

But in the two and a half decades that have since passed, the landscape of web design has undergone massive changes, transforming from the pixelated images and bright background colours that characterised the 90s, to the slick, minimalist layouts of today.

In part 3 of this history series, we look at the most significant milestones in web design.

Early 1990s 

Suffice to say that during this time, the Internet, being in its infancy, still operated at dial-up speeds.

As nostalgic as the sound of a screeching modem is for many tech heads, these were boring times for web design, with web pages dominated by walls of text. The idea of a design layout didn’t even exist.

And even as the rise of HTML allowed for more complex designs, things were still very basic, with designs limited to headers, links, and paragraphs.

Mid 1990s 

In 1994, the World Wide Web Consortium was formed and set HTML as the standard language for writing web pages. This would help prevent the monopolisation of a programming language by a browser maker, which would’ve crippled the Internet’s growth.

During this time, web designers gravitated towards table-based layouts to organize content. Of course, websites still depended heavily on text, but designers could now manipulate text content into rows, columns, and other elements.

The introduction of Flash would also open a new world of design opportunities not possible with HTML. For the first time ever, designers could create virtual graphics that users could interact with. 

Early 2000s 

The early 2000s saw the rise of CSS support, allowing for a distinct line between content and design. This meant that content developers and web designers could now work independently. Websites were also simpler to code, and thus easier to maintain and faster to load. 

It didn’t hurt that Internet speeds also became faster. The abandonment of Kitschy graphics and GIFs also meant that white space was the new “in” thing. Links were also embedded in icons rather than just text. All these led to a growing appreciation for web usability.

Mid to Late 2000s 

Enter Web 2.0.

The rise of interactive content, multimedia apps, and social media are just a few of the defining features of this era. Aesthetic trends were rooted in icon use, typography, and a deeper integration between content and graphic design.

This period was also marked by the decline of clunky Flash and the rise of SEO. For the first time, designers were designing with users in mind.


Making a website user-friendly and marketable meant it had to be visually appealing. And in today’s world, that meant flat graphics, minimalist layouts, slick typography, and large, beautiful images.

In addition, the advent of mobile is perhaps the single biggest factor that influenced modern web design. This meant that designers needed to make web pages with less clutter to ensure they were easier to navigate, not to mention, faster to load. 

Above all, modern web design has been about pushing about one thing: content. Every design element serves to deliver content to the user in the most efficient and effective way possible, paving way for best practices such as accessibility, usability, and adaptability.

These milestones in web design are at the heart of our business here at Smartbag. They allow us to use Internet technologies to deliver our line of custom packaging solutions online. To learn more about our custom printed bags and reusable shopping bags, get in touch with the Smartbag team on our Contact Page

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