Web Design in 2018 vs Web Design in the 90s

The very first website was created in the early 90’s by Tim Berners-Lee and ever since that first interface, designers, computer scientists and the general public have been tinkering with what the Internet looks like.  We went on a #tbt journey with Apple, Backstreet Boys, Amazon, and Britney Spears – deep into the 90’s, 2000’s and now – to get a better understanding of web design and how it has changed. What we found is that the internet is always evolving and that means we have to as well!

Intro photo: Web Design past and presentUser Experience

A big change we noticed was the internet’s user experience over time. The first websites were basically pages of tables, with designers using only HTML to lay out websites. Websites in the 90’s were text-heavy: in the absence of high-res images, words flooded the screen. As technology improved, we could add buttons, calls-to-action, forms, and more, making websites more useful. The concept of ‘user experience’ began to form as more people took to the internet – and more companies saw that an easy-to-use website was cheaper to manage and provided better customer service.

At the beginning of the internet, businesses would put what THEY thought useful to the user on their website. Nowadays this is not a good strategy. We’ve flipped the perspective, and now we study what our USERS think is useful. This flip in design and motivation is one of the biggest changes we noted in our study.

Images and Videos

Flash?! Hello and goodbye! When Apple ceased supporting Flash on their operating systems, it spelled doom for Flash and old-school animations everywhere. Let’s be honest though – how many times did we just click “update later” when our browsers stopped us in the middle of a task to update the latest Flash?

Early in the 90’s with slower connections (does the dial-up tone make your heart sink too?) we had to be judicious about images and videos on websites. However, again, as technology advanced and fiber became pervasive, crisp, beautiful images and video took over our designs. In fact, video is now the most shared and utilized content on all social networks. Humans, in general, hate reading and love pictures. All hail visual storytelling!

Remember a time before mobile?


The last huge trend in design over time is the adoption of mobile devices and the way we use them to get information. In 2016 mobile internet usage surpassed desktop and that trend is here to stay. Google is even factoring in a website’s mobile usability score in SEO. With this change, we’re seeing larger buttons, clearer type, and simplified interfaces that get the most relevant information to a user first and save the details for later. All websites ought to be designed mobile-first these days because that is where our users are! Think about a time you tried to hit a minuscule button and accidentally called a number instead. That is annoying for you, and for your customers.

The Future

Do you have a retro website that isn’t so fashionable, or useful anymore? We can help you get it focused on your users, mobile friendly, and easy to use so that you’ll be on your way to grow your business. The nature of the internet is to change and iterate constantly – so that is what we set out to do for you.

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