Website Design History of 20 Years (1998 – 2018)
My name is Andrew Jordan and I have been a full time self employed website designer and developer for over 20 years. As a pioneer on website design in the UK, I though it would be a nice idea to put a brief history of the website design industry together as an educational post for those who maybe interested in the way were and to show how things have changed.
The early days of website design were very different from today’s one click installs and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) installations and systems. There was nothing simple, very little guidance and just getting your files uploaded via FTP using a dial up modem was challenging enough itself.
In 1998 only 17.5% of the UK had access to the internet, most of the general public had never heard of the World Wide Web. So there was not a lot of companies seeking a website or willing to invest. The concept of buying something online had not arrived.
A lot of the early websites were built in Frames. This seem to offer a simple solution when using software like Microsoft’s FrontPage, which at the time was very popular. The frames page layout concept offered easy page layout with a holding page and the section pages being embedded into it. However this caused issues with search engine optimisation, because the content pages could be indexed without the frame holding index page. So a footer would be loaded without the rest of the site. A simple bit of code did correct this issue, but the index was then the only page that could be indexed and had no content other than the code for the framed pages.
With the then limited use of HTML, the birth of Flash animated websites soon became popular, where the entire site was in flash. The original idea of using flash was to gain moment and high end graphics and unrestricted layout that you could not gain from using the then clunky HTML. However a flash website may look great with an attractive intro and a nice moment on the menu, the massive disadvantage was that there was no page content for search engine optimisation. There would only be one page (index) and one graphic file inserted. So a beautiful website that would cost a lot of money due the the labour intensive work involved with the flash creation, however no one will ever see it. With the birth of smart phones round the corner, Apple and Adobe dropped flash because of file sizes and security issues.
Macromedia / Adobe Dreamweaver
In 2005 using adobe Dreamweaver seemed to be the benchmark of website design and development. It was full of useful tools like code cleaners, a link checker and offered easy management of content like library items and files. You could also run the software on 2 screens to make access to tool menus and previewing changes easier. I still using Dreamweaver today for various bits of coding when needed and run our own Magpie Image intranet with it.
WordPress & Database Driven Sites
With WordPress becoming the number one system in 2010 it was easy to see why with its built in Mobile Responsive CSS, general coding and HTML became a thing of the past. A lot of hosting packages offer WordPress, Joomla & Magenta to name a few, as a one click install, which includes the SQL server database part as well. In the modern WordPress system there is very little to do with a lot of the themes including great layouts and home page functions. The latest plugins also bring massive features to the site visitors and are no more than a single click install with a few tick box selection and options.
It will be interested to see where the industry goes next. I think most changes will now depend on advancements in technologies, media and trends.
I hope you found that was interesting / Andrew Jordan
Understanding FTP File Transfer Protocol
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is one of the earliest and best methods of transferring information around the Internet. Most FTP files are stored in “anonymous FTP” directories where anyone has access to them without needing to log in with a username and password.
A protocol is a language that enables computers to speak to one another.
FTP is used to make files and folders publicly available for transfer over the Internet. In some cases you may need to get permission from the network computer’s administrator to log on and gain access to files on the computer. But often you’ll find that you can use FTP to gain access to certain networks or servers without having an account, or being an official password holder, with that computer.
These “anonymous” FTP servers can contain a broad range of data that is publicly available through FTP.
The Internet address (URL) for an FTP server looks slightly different from the URL you use for a typical Web page. For example, Microsoft has an “anonymous” FTP server at ftp://ftp.microsoft.com, where you can download files ranging from product fixes, updated drivers, and utilities, to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and other documentation.
How much access you have to files and folders on FTP servers depends on whether you gain access to the servers through a CERN proxy server or directly, and what kind of permissions you have with the FTP server.
For the Website Designer the FTP software is a great way to manage your Website. Some FTP software is free and some can be purchased on the web its self. Most of the software products do exactly the same, simply because the ftp action for computers is very simple.
Once you have obtained your software and installed it you will be able to log in to your website upload and download files and web pages and then log out.
Thanks for reading…
Website & Internet Jargon Buster
This link shows the full URL of the page being linked to.
Used to describe, in general terms, the degree to which a system is of use to as many people as possible.
The advertisement and link auction network provided by Google. Keyword targeted, sold on a cost-per-click basis in an auction, which takes into account the ad click through rate and the maximum bid, it works on most of Google’s ads.
Visually impaired people and most major search engines are not able to easily distinguish what is in an image. Often referred to as ‘alt tags’, the image alt attribute allows you to help screen readers and search engines understand the function of an image by providing a text equivalent for the object.
User paths, page views and conversion statistics can be tracked using this software.
A non-functioning hyperlink, or a link which does not lead to the desired location.
Application used to view the world wide web, the most commonly used being Internet Explorer; Firefox; Safari; and Opera.
Copy of a web page stored by either a search engine or browser.
Common Gateway Interface (cgi). The interface software between a web server and other machines. Can also be used to describe software running on that server. Many ‘cgi’ programs are used to add interactivity to a web site.
Content Management System – an application that makes it easy to update and add information to a website, allowing anyone (even those who do not have coding or website building experience) to edit their website, usually just using their browser.
Cookies are small data files written to your computer which are used to help websites customise your user experience.
CPC – Cost Per Click
Many search ads, and contextually targeted ads, are sold in auctions where the advertiser is charged a certain ‘price per click’. For instance, Google AdWords’ pay per click ad program, allows you to buy search and contextual ads.
Search engines such as Google have a Bot (see also ‘GoogleBot’) which ‘crawls’ web pages, following links and recording content, maintaining a searchable database of the internet.
How deeply a website is ‘crawled’ and indexed.
How often a website is crawled.
Cascading Style Sheets. A method for adding styles to a web page, controlling how a web page looks visually. Using a style sheet instead of inline formatting greatly speeds up the website and helps to make it more accessible and search engine friendly.
A collection of information stored in a computer in a systematic way. Often used on websites to support, amongst other things, photo galleries, inventory listings, catalogues, and message forums.
Limited to serving one website, or small collection of websites, this server is owned by a single person.
In search engine results a short description near each listing is used to give the user more information about a website. (See also: ‘SEO – Search Engine Optimisation’.)
Domain Name Server or Domain Name System. An Internet service which translates domain names into IP addresses, which makes them easier to remember as domain names are alphabetic. However, the Internet is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. So, the domain name www.forinstance.com might translate to 192.135.852.2.
Used in URLs to identify particular web pages. This is our domain name for example: www.themaxdp.co.uk. If you are interested in getting a domain name, please contact us.
Content which changes over time or uses a dynamic language such as PHP to help render the page.
Programming languages such as PHP and ASP which build web pages on the fly upon request.
Known commonly as ‘e-commerce’ or ‘eCommerce’, it consists of the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks.
The page via which a user enters your website.
A link which references another domain/website.
A small ‘Favourites Icon’ which appears next to URLs in a web browser.
A popular standards-based, free download, web browser.
Vector, graphics-based, animation software. Makes it easier to make websites look rich and interactive. Websites which contain ‘Flash’ content are difficult for search engines to index and rank because they contain relatively small content.
File Transfer Protocol. This protocol is for transferring data between computers, so many content management systems include a FTP capability.
The world’s leading search engine.
Offered by Google, this service records information about visitors to your website and illustrate how well your website is performing. We use this service to provide comprehensive reports on your website.
Google’s search engine spider. This spider program automatically fetches web pages – Spiders are used to send pages to search engines.
maps.google.co.uk – detailed maps which you can add your business to, and integrate into your website, thus allowing clients to access directions to your business.
SEO techniques used to show search engine spiders text that human visitors do not see. While some sites may get away with it for a while, generally the risk to reward ratio is inadequate for most legitimate sites to consider using hidden text.
The main page on your website. Largely responsible for helping develop your brand and setting up the navigational schemes that will be used to help users and search engines navigate your website.
The process of storing your website pages on a computer (a web server) and making them available, by means of the Internet, to the world.
Apache directory-level configuration file which can be used to password protect or redirect files.
HyperText Markup Language. The language in which pages on the World Wide Web are created.
HyperText Transfer Protocol. The means by which data is transferred from its residing location on a server to an active browser.
This link points from one website to another. By using the ‘link:’ function, most search engines allow you to see sample links pointing to a document.
An internal link from one page on a site to another page on the same site. It is preferential to use descriptive internal linking to make it easy for search engines to understand what your website is about. Internet – The worldwide web – a network of computers connected via TCP/IP.
Microsoft’s web browser.
Internet Protocol Address. Each and every computer connected to the Internet has an IP address.
Internet Service Provider. Companies which provide access to the Internet.
A word or phrase which people use to search the Internet.
In search engine optimisation (see also: SEO), keyword density is the measurement in percentage of the number of times a particular keyword or phrase appears, compared to the total number of words in a page.
A reference from one web document to another web document or another position in the same document. A link is seen as a vote of trust by most popular search engines.
The process of building high quality links with other websites. Link campaigns are a major piece of the jigsaw when it comes to getting your website listed successfully with search engines.
The number of links pointing at a website. Simply put, ‘link popularity’ is the total number of links your website has coming from other websites. The more links your website has, the higher your link popularity, so as a consequence your website will be looked upon more favourably by all major search engines. The sites must have complimentary and related content to your own website – links from relevant sites are considered to be “more relevant” by search engines and will help to improve your rankings.
The meta description tag – a sentence or two of text which describes the content of the page, sometimes used to describe the page in a ‘Search Engine Results Page’ – can be very important.
The meta keywords tag – a tag which can be used to highlight keywords and keyword phrases which are relevant to the specific web page. Trust issues can result in most search engines ignoring keywords, just taking content from the website for ranking.
People generally refer to Meta Descriptions and Meta Keywords as meta tags. Some people also group the page title in with these.
A database that uses a language called SQL (Structured Query Language) for adding, accessing, and processing data in a database. ‘MySQL’ typically runs on Linux/Unix servers in conjunction with PHP. MySQL, and is noted for its speed, reliability, and flexibility.
Often appearing on the left, or top of a page, this set of links is designed to help website users move from page to page around a website.
Fast, standards based, web browser – Opera is popular now for its mobile web browser and browser on the Nintendo DS and Wii.
A link from one website pointing at another external website. Linking out to useful relevant related documents is an easy way to help search engines understand what your website is about.
PageRank – a numeric value that represents how important a page is on the web. PageRank is Google’s way of deciding a page’s importance. It matters because it is one of the factors that determines a page’s ranking in the search results. This is not the only factor Google uses to rank pages, but it is an important one. Google figures that when one page links to another page, it is effectively casting a vote for the other page. The more votes that are cast for a page, the more important the page must be.
PHP Hypertext Preprocessor – an open source server side scripting language used to render web pages or add interactivity to them.
Portable Document Format. A universal file format developed by Adobe Systems allowing files to be stored and viewed in the original printer-friendly context. The Max Design & Print Co. uses PDFs in many stages of its workflow, from design proofs to print production.
Pay Per Click ads only charge advertisers if a potential customer clicks on an ad. An example of which would be Google AdSense.
Search engines count links as a vote of trust. Quality links count more than low quality links.
A reciprocal link goes in both directions between two websites.
A method of alerting browsers and search engines that a page location has moved. Users will not notice they are being redirected if done correctly and search engines only index the resulting page.
A company which allows you to register domain names.
The source from which a website visitor came from.
A file which sits in the root of a site and tells search engines which files not to crawl. Some search engines will still list your URLs as URL only listings even if you block them using a robots.txt file.
Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication. A method of syndicating information to a feed reader or other software, allowing people to subscribe to a channel they are interested in.
A popular standards-based web browser made by Apple, included on all Macs, iPhones and iPod Touch. (Now available for PCs also.)
A tool or device used to find relevant information. Google and Yahoo are the most commonly used search engines.
A Web server that is capable of establishing encrypted communications to protect sensitive information being transmitted over the Internet.
Search Engine Optimisation. The art and science of publishing information and marketing it in a manner that helps search engines understand that your information is applicable to relevant search queries. SEO consists largely of keyword research, SEO copy writing, and link building.
A computer used to store/host files and serve them to the web.
A page which can be used to help give search engines a secondary route to navigate through your site.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A protocol used to transfer email between servers, normally associated with sending mail.
Unsolicited and sometimes malicious email messages.
A program that automatically fetches Web pages. Spiders are used to send pages to search engines.
Software programs which spy on web users. This is often used to collect consumer research and behaviourally target ads.
Content which does not change very often.
Adding your Web site URL and details to search engines.
The title element is used to describe the contents of a document, making it one of the most important aspects to doing SEO on a web page. Such page titles appear in search results.
Provides detailed and accurate counting and behaviour information about the visitors to your website.
The amount of visitors and visits received by a website.
The time during which a computer (such as a Web server) is functioning without failure.
Uniform Resource Identifier – the unique address of any web document.
Uniform Resource Locator – a variation on URI.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organisation for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3). It is arranged as a consortium where member organisations maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the World Wide Web. As of February 2008, the W3C had 434 members. The W3C DOM, on the other hand, is about document structure and the changing of document structure, allowing you to add or remove XHTML tags, or even entirely rewrite the page, if you so wish.
Each domain has an owner on record. Ownership data is stored in the Whois record for that domain. Some domain registrars also allow you to hide the ownership data of your sites.
A Wiki lets users create, edit and modify entire pages. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but sites like Wikipedia.org prove that it is a powerful tool for generating large bodies of work quickly, with the added benefit of peer review to consistently improve it.
Extensible HyperText Markup Language is a class of specifications designed to move HTML to conform to XML formatting.
Extensible Markup Language – a simple, very flexible, text format derived from SGML. Used to make it easy to syndicate or format information using technologies such as RSS.
A popular search engine.
A process of compressing a file or number of files into one compact archive. ZIP files take up less storage, making it ideal for archiving and backup, as well as more efficient and quicker for a user to email or download.
Thanks for reading…