Web design innovations are old news faster than internet memes; faster even than articles can be written. It is the nature of the World Wide Web to continually breed new generations of design, code, and social mediums.
Here is the evolution of web design, from 2000 through today. Please note that all dates are debatable, because development periods for innovations range from one day to decades: the dates shown are the post-beta testing dates of release.
2000 – CSS IS BORN
Whereas style was once written into HTML line-by-line, which could result in many different styles on one page, CSS allowed web designers to write one overlying style sheet. This separated style from content, and made it easier to divide labor to those with appropriate skill sets.
One page of CSS code could work for an entire site, leaving the designer free to spend time on more pleasant tasks.
In the year 2000 Internet Explorer version five was the first browser to fully support CSS.
2005 – USER GENERATED CONTENT IS KING
Advancements in web design opened the field to everyone. Customized profiles, journaling, blogging, and other forms of social media emerged in 2002, and became mainstream by 2005. An entire industry of jobs was created, mainly to market to the new web users.
The wave of user generated content, or UGC, meant that the web included a much larger audience of people who needed user-friendly designs.
Facebook was launched in 2004: today it serves more than 901 million users.
2005 – SEMANTIC WEB IS CREATED
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed procedures to translate unstructured documents into a uniform ‘web of information,’ which will be processed easily by machines and humans alike.
A machine would intuitively comprehend what tasks need to be completed and automatically do them (for example, translating text, finding lower prices, using the White Pages, et cetera—all without direction from a human).
DBpedia seeks to make all of the knowledge of Wikipedia sortable, filterable, and useable like an artificial brain of intelligence. Its applications are limitless for web architects.
2008 – “NETWORK AS PLATFORM” WEB 2.0 SPREADS
Around 2008 UGC prosumers (producer-consumers) were actively creating their own environments through interactive instantaneous web design. This interoperability was made possible due to the sharing nature of social media, which encouraged users to interact with one-another through machines.
Web design was no longer designer-centric: it became a race to provide the most user-friendly and attractive platform for users to implement.
Refreshing pages became a distant memory, much like cassettes and video tape rewinders.
2012 – HTML5 REVOLUTIONIZES WEB DESIGNS
Interactive designs like this one remind users of futuristic scenes in 90’s movies. HTML5 makes web browsing as effortless as thinking for users, and content management systems take the coding out of design for novice prosumers.
This is an historic moment for web designers, who used to need to learn several coding languages: now these designers are able to design intuitively.
Web design innovations will continue to evolve faster than any person can learn. However, with advancements like the semantic web, users will no longer need to know everything in order to implement the knowledge of every code and fact on the web.