What is Web Design? 

Web design is one of two aspects of creating a website, the other being web development. Used as an umbrella term, website design and development encompass all aspects related to the formation of a website. While web development refers to the functionality of a website, web design entails the creative and visual aspects of it. Both these processes are fundamentally based on various coding languages, such as Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP), Python, JavaScript, etc., that have developed over time. 

Let’s begin with the historical development and timeline. 

Historical Development 

The 1990s can be considered the unofficial foundational decade for web design. With the first worldwide website launching in 1991 and the world’s first web search engine Archie-Like Indexing for the Web (ALIWEB) being launched in 1993, the intrigue and eagerness to improve the existing technology only grew stronger. This can be discerned from the difference between CERN and ALIWEB, with the former being fully text-based with blue color only when it came to hyperlinked text and the latter having background color.1

As a result of the Internet, online marketing began, with HotWired magazine’s website becoming the first to use an ad banner. This was quickly followed by Amazon launching the first-ever online bookstore in 1995, thereby bolstering the e-commerce sector. Amazon was followed closely by the first auction website called AuctionWeb, now infamously known as eBay.1

And by 1996, Internet users across the globe had doubled to 36 million users.6 This year also saw the use of Flash for website design, but it eventually failed due to a lack of a user-friendly interface and a heavy processing load. Then came one of the greatest developments in website design history — Google. The advent of Google also laid the roots for what we now understand as “search engine optimization” (SEO) with businesses wanting to improve their rank and accessibility.1

By 2003, the world had been introduced to Paypal, Wikipedia, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. This brought along with it a whole new idea of how humans would function. We moved into a digital sphere for most routine activities, from shopping and entertainment to education, and websites became the go-to for nearly all spheres of human life.2

Naturally, businesses saw websites as the ideal opportunity to connect with customers and expand their brand, making website design more of a need rather than a want. There was now also a market for online advertisement, graphic design for websites looking to make an impression, education, and websites became the places for social profiles and the likes. 

This desire to take advantage of technological developments was further invigorated when the first iPhone was launched in 2007.3 Although not the first smartphone, it did prompt a revamping of web designs to remain relevant across different screen sizes and gave birth to responsive design in 2010.4 Microsoft and Apple also pioneered the movement away from rich design to flat design, preferring a minimalistic approach. 

By 2014–2015, businesses had understood the importance of targeted advertising and SEO.2 It had become necessary for businesses to adapt and utilize technology to their advantage, especially in light of social media and the innumerable opportunities it brought for brands. A digital presence had become a necessity for even the smallest or oldest of brands. 

Between 2016 and 2022, the relevance of SEO became even more prevalent. Businesses realized that websites are the first impression of their brand. They began investing more time and resources into building websites that are not only eye-catching but also interactive, engaging, descriptive, easy to navigate, and fast. They began using content management systems such as WordPress and analysis tools such as Google Analytics to gather the relevant data and tweak their websites based on their findings. Whether this meant updating their logos or changing their algorithms, businesses understood the significance of an online presence.1

A Career in Web Design 

The above summary of the historical timeline of web design is proof of the ever-growing industry itself. With an industry valued at 6.9 billion dollars in 2021 and an expected value of 14.3 billion collaboration in 2026, companies are constantly on the lookout for fresh ideas that can combine the technical knowledge of web development with the creativity that is involved in web design.7 A web designer is expected to plan, create, and write code that is SEO-friendly, engaging, and has multi-screen usability, among other things. Therefore, web designers must hone their coding and overall programming skills, and nurture their creative abilities. And luckily, there is ample opportunity to do so now through online courses, regardless of the level of expertise.5

Needless to say, the future of web design and a future as a web designer is bright. The next “big thing” could be just around the corner or even in the hands of the one reading this article. 

Want to know more about coding and a career in web design? Head over to Byju’s FutureSchool Blog to know more. 


  1. Museum, W. D. (1991, April 1). Web Design History Timeline 1990-2022 | Web Design Museum. Web Design History Timeline 1990-2022 | Web Design Museum. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.webdesignmuseum.org/web-design-history
  2. CPBI, R. S. (2022, May 26). The History of Website Design: 30 Years of Building the Web [2022 Update]. The History of Website Design: 30 Years of Building the Web [2022 Update]. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.smamarketing.net/blog/the-history-of-website-design
  3. Apple Reinvents the Phone with iPhone. (2007, January 9). Apple Newsroom. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/
  4. Rumsey. (2012, April 5). Mobile First, Responsive Design & the iPad. Seeing the Picture. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://blog.lib.uiowa.edu/hardinmd/2012/04/05/mobile-first-responsive-design-the-ipad/
  5. Web Content Management Market Size, Share | 2022 – 2026 | MarketsandMarkets. (2022, May 25). MarketsandMarkets. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/web-content-management-market-255522685.html
  6. Internet Growth Statistics 1995 to 2022 – the Global Village Online. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://www.internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm 
  7. Web Content Management Market Size, Share | 2022 – 2026 | MarketsandMarkets. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/web-content-management-market-255522685.html 

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