Website Design History of 20 Years (1998 – 2018)

Website Design History of 20 Years (1998 – 2018)


Website Design History of 20 Years 1998 – 2018 Web Design HistoryMy 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.

First Websites

The first website I built was a formula one enthusiast club. The website was built completely in HTML with a bit of JavaScript thrown in to manage payments and memberships. I ended up using a company in the USA to handle the payment gateway and the only bank in the UK that would support and offer a merchant account for online transactions was HSBC.


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.

Flash Animation

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.

Final Thoughts

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

Great Images need Great Content

Great Images need Great ContentYour online presence is a hugely important marketing tool. You will need some awesome images to invite and inspire your audience, but what about the content? Words matter too. The right words all in the right order! Most Importantly, completely original words not content that has been cribbed from another website or online resource (unless used with permission and credited to the author).

Google Plagiarism Checker

Plagiarism – taking someone else’s words and using them as your own – is likely to see your site blacklisted. If you are looking for a high ranking then you need to make sure that your content is original. There are online plagiarism checkers such as Small Seo Tools and Plagiarism Checker App available on Google Play.

Professional Content Writing

Content writing for websites and blog sites has become big business. We found 1,245 vacancies online for content writers in one online search today alone! There are plenty of businesses out there offering to write original and expert copy for you. Prices can vary enormously as can quality. Ask for a quote up front, and also make sure that you read a few different samples of their work.

Freelance writers are likely to give you a more personal service as you are dealing directly with the writer, however, depending on how busy they are you may struggle to get a quick turn around. Dedicated content writing companies may well employ a large number of ‘expert’ freelance writers which on the plus side means that they may have a writer who will suit your type of business better.

Double-Check the Originality

You can ask the content writer to provide you with a report regarding the originality of the copy – which means that they will put it through some plagiarism software. You can also check this yourself – it is better to be doubly sure about this as it really is so important that you don’t use wording already ranked by the major search engines

Magpie Image can offer you an original content writing along with research. We have a team of writers with over 30 years combined experience within publishing and marketing. Contact us for a friendly and professional no obligation quote.

Setting Up Your Own WordPress Site

Setting Up Your Own WordPress websiteSetting Up Your Own WordPress Site

Setting up a free WordPress blog website couldn’t be easier – or could it?

Sure there are plenty of online WordPress tutorials and advice regarding how to set up and start using your website. However, if you are after a professional looking site with superb functionality you should seriously look at getting some hands on tuition from people who use WordPress on a daily basis – and have been doing so for some time.

Control Your Online Presence

WordPress can be very user friendly and it is generally straightforward but has thousands of Plug In options and can be very powerful. This can be quite daunting for the inexperienced user. Individual or small group learning can be invaluable if you are looking to bring your website in-house. You will need to be confident in your own skills, or those of your staff so setting about WordPress training the right way will not only save you time and money but will give you complete control of your online presence.

Choose a Trainer Who Will Give You Back-up

There are plenty of online courses available, but choosing a trainer who will also be able to give you back up should you need it is a better choice. Take a look around some of the trainers own WordPress installations to get an idea of their skill level.

Smart Thinking

An experienced web developer will also be able to take your existing website and teach you how to transfer it into a WordPress theme – saving you a lot work (and money…! ) So if you are a small business with limited resources, investing in a little WordPress staff training could provide you with quite a dividend. A smart web presence, and smart staff able to keep it up to date and looking good.

Most used WordPress Plugins

Top Plugins for WordPress

Most used WordPress Plugins, Top Plugin for WordPressBelow is a list of the current most popular WordPress plugins (to date). If you are building your own WordPress website then these are all worth installing and seeing if the benefits suit your site and your needs…

Advanced Custom Fields

Customise WordPress with powerful, professional and intuitive fields
By: elliotcondon.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

TinyMCE Advanced

Enables the advanced features of TinyMCE, the WordPress WYSIWYG editor.
By: Andrew Ozz.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.
By: Arne Brachhold.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Duplicate Post

Clone posts and pages.
By: Lopo.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

WordPress Importer

Import posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, tags and more from a WordPress export file.
1+ million active installs
Read More >


WooCommerce is a powerful, extendable eCommerce plugin that helps you sell anything. Beautifully.
By: Automattic, Mike Jolley, jameskoster, Claudio Sanches, royho, and WooThemes.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

NextGEN Gallery

The most popular WordPress gallery plugin and one of the most popular plugins of all time with over 14 million downloads.
By: photocrati and imagely.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Contact Form 7

Just another contact form plugin. Simple but flexible.
By: Takayuki Miyoshi.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Jetpack by

Increase your traffic, view your stats, speed up your site, and protect yourself from hackers with Jetpack.
By: Automattic, Adam Heckler, Andrew Duthie, Alex Kirk, allendav, alternatekev, and others.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Really Simple CAPTCHA

Really Simple CAPTCHA is a CAPTCHA module intended to be called from other plugins. It is originally created for my Contact Form 7 plugin.
By: Takayuki Miyoshi.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Wordfence Security

The Wordfence WordPress security plugin provides free enterprise-class WordPress security, protecting your website from hacks and malware.
By: Wordfence.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Yoast SEO

Improve your WordPress SEO: Write better content and have a fully optimized WordPress site using Yoast SEO plugin.
By: Joost de Valk.
1 week ago 1+ million active installs
Read More >

All in One SEO Pack

he most downloaded plugin for WordPress (almost 30 million downloads). Use All in One SEO Pack to automatically optimize your site for Search Engines
By: Michael Torbert, Steve Mortiboy, Dougal Campbell, Peter Baylies, and others.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Regenerate Thumbnails

Allows you to regenerate your thumbnails after changing the thumbnail sizes.
By: Alex Mills (Viper007Bond).
1+ million active installs
Read More >

W3 Total Cache

Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.
By: Frederick Townes.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

WP Super Cache

A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files.
By: Donncha O Caoimh, Automattic, and Brandon Kraft.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Google Analytics by Yoast

Track your WordPress site easily with the latest tracking codes and lots added data for search result pages and error pages.
By: Joost de Valk.
1+ million active installs
Read More >


Adds a more advanced paging navigation interface.
By: Lester Chan and scribu.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Hello Dolly

This is not just a plugin, it symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation summed up in two words sung most famously by Louis Armstrong.
By: Matt Mullenweg.
1+ million active installs
Read More >


Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not.
By: Matt Mullenweg, Ryan Boren, Andy Skelton, Michael Adams (mdawaffe), and others.
1+ million active installs
Read More >

Page Builder by SiteOrigin

Build responsive page layouts using the widgets you know and love using this simple drag and drop page builder.
By: Greg Priday and braam-genis.
800,000+ active installs
Read More >

Disable Comments

Allows administrators to globally disable comments on their site. Comments can be disabled according to post type. Multisite friendly.
By: Samir Shah.
800,000+ active installs
Read More >

WP Multibyte Patch

Multibyte functionality enhancement for the WordPress Japanese package.
By: Seisuke Kuraishi (tenpura).
800,000+ active installs
Read More >

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget

The visual editor widget for WordPress.
By: Marco Chiesi and Francesco Canovi.
800,000+ active installs
Read More >

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Displays Google Analytics reports in your WordPress Dashboard. Inserts the latest Google Analytics tracking code in your pages.
By: Alin Marcu.
700,000+ active installs
Read More >

iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)

Protect your WordPress site by hiding vital areas of your site, protecting access to important files, preventing brute-force login attempts, detecting
By: iThemes, Chris Jean, Aaron D. Campbell, gerroald, and Matt Danner.
700,000+ active installs
Read More >

Clef Two-Factor Authentication

Modern two-factor that people love to use: strong authentication without passwords or tokens; single sign on/off; magical user experience.
By: Dave Ross, Jesse Pollak, Andrew Russell, and Laurence.
700,000+ active installs
Read More >

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

Backup and restoration made easy. Complete backups; manual or scheduled (backup to S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, FTP, SFTP, email + others).
By: Backup with UpdraftPlus, David Anderson, and DNutbourne.
700,000+ active installs
Read More >


Duplicate, clone, backup, move and transfer an entire site from one location to another.
By: corylamleorg and Bob Riley.
700,000+ active installs
Read More >

Meta Slider

Easy to use WordPress slider plugin. Create SEO optimised responsive slideshows with Nivo Slider, Flex Slider, Coin Slider and Responsive Slides.
By: Matcha Labs.
600,000+ active installs
Read More >

Free WordPress Themes

Free WordPress Themes

The best WordPress pluginsSince its inception in 2003, nearly a quarter of all websites worldwide are now built using a WordPress theme so we have put a list of some of the most popular free ones together for you all of which can be found at


For a professional and versatile template we like Nictitate by kopatheme. It is completely responsive so viewing it on any screen size is not an issue. This means that you can feel confident in its longevity. It comes with a good layout manager and it functions across all of the main browsers


Another popular multi-purpose theme is Vantage which can boast approaching 1 million downloads. It too is fully responsive and comes pre loaded with a number of plug-ins and works well with the WordPress e-commerce system Woo Commerce.


For simplicity and elegance we like Hemingway by Anders Noren. More suited for use as a blogging site this clean looking easy to set up is straightforward and ideal for beginners to WordPress


For showcasing images we like Portfolio Gallery by Web Dorado. This again is responsive and straightforward to use and will shrink to fit any viewing screen. It is simple and elegant and SEO friendly

Retina Ready

One of the most popular themes with over 100,000 active installations is Zerif Lite by Codeinwp. It is minimal and modern-looking with a clean flat appearance. Retina-ready and compatible with WooCommerce this is an up to date free version of the Zerif Pro theme which boasts that it is the most popular paid for theme in 2015 with more than half a million downloads

Social Networking

If you are looking to boost your viral traffic you might like to look at SociallyViral by MyThemeShop which is designed to improve social shares and traffic from social media websites. This also has great support

This is a minute sampling as there are of course thousands of other free to download template themes. Don’t just opt for something that looks good. Make sure that you check out the reviews section especially regarding support – it will make your WordPress experience much better!

Digital Media Training

Small Business Digital Media Training

Small Business Digital Media TrainingNow that the majority of small businesses have acknowledged that an online presence is a crucial way of increasing brand awareness and sales opportunities, it has become more important than ever for their staff to be trained, not only to use and enhance digital media, but also to meaningfully analyse and understand its effectiveness.

In order to keep your web presence lively and engaging you or your staff will require the necessary skill-sets, so investing in some good quality digital media training from an experienced practitioner will not only help to keep your website maintenance costs down but will increase your website traffic, digital media confidence and improve brand awareness.

The Training Jungle

Larger commercial centres such as major cities will have a numerous companies offering workshop courses and in house training and there are many college based courses and online ‘e-learning’ courses. For the smaller business however it could be much more cost effective to have some bespoke individually tailored training using your own digital media so, not only will you be mastering a new skill-set, you will be able to correct or adjust problematic or unappealing aspects of your own websites or social media campaigns with the trainer on hand.

Knowing What You Want

Having a clear idea of your requirements will help you to navigate the array of courses on offer. It is also worth looking for a training provider who commits to providing back up and support. Do you for example want to understand how to use Social Media within your marketing, how to set up and maintain a Facebook page or understand how to create a campaign using AdWords?  Are you concerned about the ranking of your website on Google or how to create and maintain a blog or maybe build and update a WordPress website?  Training your staff in best practice digital media and marketing techniques will undoubtedly enable them to give your business a stronger presence in the online marketplace.

Making Money from your Website or Blog

Making Money from your Website or Blog

Making Money from your Website or BlogBelow is a few good sources to help you make money from a website or blog.

These are great ways to turn your visitor traffic into revenue with very little effort.

Amazon / Affiliate =

Paid On Results =

Great Pic Adds =

Infolinks =

Conversant Media =

Google AdSense =

I hope this was useful to you 

Top Content Plugins for WordPress

Top Content Plugins for WordPress

For simple and effective design and content layout try using the following Plugins on your WordPress websites.

We often use a combination of plugins so we can get any item wherever we need it.

  • The best WordPress pluginsPage Builder by SiteOrigin
  • SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle
  • TinyMCE Advanced
  • Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
  • Shortcodes Ultimate
  • Lightbox Plus Colorbox
  • Widget Context
  • WP Google Maps
  • Menu Icons By Dzikri Aziz
  • Recent Posts Widget Extended By Satrya
  • Meta Slider by Matcha Labs
  • Photo Gallery By WebDorado
  • Ultimate Responsive Image Slider By Weblizar

I hope this was useful to youop Content Plugins for WordPress

XML Explained and XML Sitemaps for Google

XML Explained and XML Sitemaps for Google

So what is XML?

XML Explained XML Sitemap for GoogleXML is used to describe data. It focuses on what the data is and not how it looks has with HTML
It’s important that you understand and remember the following…

  • XML is not a replacement language for HTML
  • XML is all about describing data.
  • XML was created purely as a way to structure, store and send information.

If we were building a website for a sweet company, we could define our own XML tags for the different types of services…

<Fudge> Devon Clotted Cream </fudge>
<Chocolate> Bourneville </Chocolate>
<Boiled Sweets> Humbugs </Boiled Sweets>

Depending on how you set up you XML tags, a visitor accessing the web page would be able to sort through the sweets by type or ingredients or category, without having to query a database on the server.

One of the most common use for XML is with producing a site map for Google indexing.

Here is an example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<urlset xmlns=”″ xmlns:xsi=”” xsi:schemaLocation=” sitemap.xsd”>

Hope this was of interest to you

Mozilla Firefox and its Useful Add-ons

Mozilla Firefox and its Useful Add-ons

Mozilla Firefox and its Useful Add-onsAs a website design and development company Magpie Image use most of the Internet browsers available to check that our websites work on them all.

The most popular ones being:

  • Google Chrome (currently the most popular)
  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer
  • Safari

We also check mobile devices like Apple iPhone and IPad, Microsoft and various Android platforms

As a developer we found the best browser for development work is Mozilla Firefox, simply because of its useful add-ons

Below is a list of the ones we use:

  • Colour Zilla – Advanced Eye Dropper, Colour Picker
  • Easy Copy – Simple way to copy content and useful information when required
  • Firebug – Great way to find what code is doing what for easy editing
  • Measureit – For measuring banners and items on a page
  • Wappalyzer – Will tell you what software is running on a server
  • Web Developer – Adds various website development tools
Mozilla Firefox and its useful add-ons

Mozilla Firefox and its useful add-ons

Check them out, I am sure you will find them very useful

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