The Internet is such an integral part of our daily lives in the 21st century, it is easy to forget that just 25 years ago, web browsers did not even exist. Imagine that: a life without websites or the technology required to view them in an easily readable format! Nevertheless, it is a fact that the very first browser was developed by Tim Berners-Lee relatively recently in historical terms and web design innovations have come thick and fast since WorldWideWeb, as Tim named his browser, was released on Christmas Day in 1990. Below are 5 of what I consider to be the most important innovations since then, that have changed the life of web developers across the globe.
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What were these Web Design Innovations? Take a Look
Before the creation of website tables, HTML objects that revolutionized the layout of websites in the mid ‘90s, adding images to plain text pages without making them look awkward and untidy was quite a challenge. For me, tables are still one of the most important tools that developers have at their disposal and without them, many of the beautiful graphical sites that you see today would look very messy indeed. The hierarchical objects that comprise your average table include rows, columns and individual cells. They make it easy to organize content in a logical way that looks good too.
2. Flash Animations
The appearance of Macromedia’s media player in the late ‘90s made it possible for developers to include animated content in their websites rather than just static text and images. As you sit here reading this article over 15 years later, Flash has already been replaced by HTML5 video in many areas. Most browsers that run on iOS, Apple’s mobile device operating system, do not have any way to render Flash animations and Adobe, the software company that acquired Macromedia in 2005, announced as long ago as November 2011 that development of the Flash plugin for mobile browsers was ceasing. Since mobile devices at set to dominate online standards in the future, this means that Flash is effectively a dying technology as far as the vast majority of developers are concerned.
1998 saw the arrival of what is now the preeminent search engine in the digital world and whilst it may not have had a massive impact on the visual elements of website design, the Internet search giant is certainly a major influence when it comes to the textual content that can be found on sites developed all around the world today. The simple fact of the matter is that if you want to drive traffic to your website, you need to make sure that it occupies a prominent position in the results pages for Google searches containing relevant keywords and phrases. In order to achieve this goal, developers must optimize content in line with guidelines set down by the Santa Clara technological behemoth.
4. AJAX Programming
The latest version of Hypertext Markup Language, various parts of which started to be implemented in browsers as long ago as 2008, is a work in progress and will continue to evolve in the future. It has, as noted above, already sounded the death knell for Flash and in addition to animated images, provides developers with the ability to include desktop functionality on their websites, such as drag and drop of files for upload to web servers. There is much more to HTML5 than that but we do not have the space to go into detail in this short article. You can find thousands of useful resources online if you would like to find out more about it.
Web standards are not static and there are sure to be many more interesting innovations in the years to come. In order to be a successful developer, you need to stay abreast of the latest ones.
Matthew Hobbs works on a freelance basis for a company that delivers digital brand engagement using marketing technology services. WickedWeb marketing is one of the best in the UK.