A Short Story about the Evolution of Web Design

A Short Story about the Evolution of Web DesignMicrosoft launched its own first competitive browser in 1996. The browser in question came complete with its very own tags and features. At the time of its release, the browser was also the first to include supports for style sheets, an authoring technique that was viewed as something obscure back then. The HTML markup for tables was initially meant for viewing tabular data. Designers quickly acknowledged that HTML tables can be used to create multi-column, complex layouts, which were something that was rather impossible to do back then. This was at a time when good markup structure was overlooked in favor of good esthetics and web accessibility and semantics were things that were paid little attention to.

Websites using HTML had limited design options. Complex designs were created by web using table structures that were complicated or blank spacer.GIF images in order that empty table cells could stop collapsing. In December 1996, CSS was introduced by the W3C as a means to support layout and presentation. HTML code benefitted from CSS in that it can be semantic instead of being both semantic and presentational. It also improved web accessibility.

Flash (known as FutureSplash back then) was developed in 1996. Flash content development tool at the time was way simpler compared to what it is today. It used basic drawing tools and layout, an early version of ActionScript, as well as a timeline. However, these features made it possible for web designers to work with things beyond HTML, JavaScript, and animated GIFs. Still, Flash required a plugin. And because of this, web developers were reluctant to use it out of fear of limiting market share caused by lack of compatibility. As a result, designers resorted to gif animations and JavaScript to make widgets. Flash found popularity in specific target markets and has since become a common mainstay in many browsers.

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