Short History of Web Design

For those who are not techhies or propeller-heads, I thought it might be time for a review of website design history. This short article is a technical background to support my other articles on WordPress, and why you might want to seriously consider making WordPress your choice for your next website.

If nothing else, the definition of terms in this article should give you an idea of what your web developer/designer is talking about when you work with them.

1. HTML — a simple structure that used a tag-based code to interact with your browser (Internet Explorer, etc.). The first primitive version showed only “threaded text”– the text block resized according to how you resized the browser window. Later on images were added– an image is “pulled” from a location by the code in the HTML page, and placed upon the page the viewer sees in the browser. The only formatting allowed in basic HTML were things like centering or aligning (text and images) to the right or left. Also, text could be made larger or smaller, relative to the preferences set by the user’s browser.

2. TABLES — like Excel, the table began as a simple table, but evolved to allow visual designers to layout the page, and make a pleasing design out of the images and text.

3. JAVASCRIPT — another program that exists on top of or within the HTML page that allowed for basic and advanced interactivity, such as a change in an image during a mouseover.

4. CSS — Cascading Style Sheets allowed global style changes to entire websites — control of text sizes, placement of page elements. Another “3rd party” code placed inside or on top of the basic HTML page.

5. CMS — Content Management System; uses a database system and code within an HTML page to dynamically generate pages with full layout and design.

6. FLASH — a 3rd party system that is embeds a run-time version in a HTML page. Flash is a very robust, highly interactive program that allows designers complete control over the final piece. Used for interactive, motion-graphics intensive sites such as games.

7. BLOGS — a blog is a single long page at the top level of a site, something that search engines love, because the repeated keywords on the same page (the “index” page) make it easy to scan to see what the site is about. (Search engines tend to scan only the top folder, and maybe the secondary folders on a site.) A blog uses a CMS system to produce a website.

8. WORDPRESS — WordPress started out as a blogging platform and has evolved to a new form of website creation and management. Sort of a social-media mutant website creator. Wordpress uses the open source code, PHP, in conjunction with a database to generate the whole site.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain


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