The Changing World of Web Design

When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, no one had an email address, a Facebook profile page, a Twitter account or even a mobile device. Even though I had my first computer, a Mac Classic with 4 MB of RAM and a 40 MB Hard Drive in 1992, it was not until 1995 that I opened my first Hotmail account and not until 1997 that I made my first website, using pure html coding and animated images. I certainly had no idea at the time that someday my entire professional life would depend on this fast moving Internet industry.

Fifteen years ago, I did not depend on Internet technology and neither did the world around me. Today, most aspects of our personal and professional lives are touched by it. As early as ten years ago, business owners could not imagine how dependent they would become on email and their web presence to promote their business. So, why has the Internet industry moved so fast and why have the tools that deliver it changed so much in such a short period of time?

The Internet industry is often compared to the gold rush of 19th century. Many people made large fortunes, changing the way merchants of the time did business. The gold rush helped establish modern transportation facilities and spurred huge waves of immigration that led to new settlements that defined most societies of the 21st century. The Internet has had a similar effect in a very short period of time because of its reach, the ever increasing user-base and the rapid improvements in the technology that delivers it. One of the key technologies of the Internet age is the Website.

Websites have come a long way, from the first ever text-based website in the early 1990’s to Flash, CSS, JavaScript, Web 2.0 and finally, the mobile, theme-based Web. The technology is evolving so rapidly that today, a three year old Website is already out-dated and can actually do more damage than good to a company’s image.

Fortunately, as technology has evolved, the cost of having a Website has decreased dramatically. This is due in large part to the development of open-source software such as WordPressJoomla and Drupal.  In the not so distant past, a simple static website cost thousands of dollars to create because every aspect had to be designed and programmed from scratch.  Over the long term, sites also cost more to maintain, since any update or change required the service of a web designer.  The process was not only expensive, but often long, since it could have taken days or weeks for the web designer to update a simple text, update company information or add new images or graphics.

That all changed with the introduction of Website templates and on-line site building programs that allow site owners to quickly and easily modify the design elements and content of their own Websites. Software such as WordPress, Joomla  and Drupal can now be installed on a hosting server, integrated with a modern and flexible template design and populated with content that is easily updated by the site owner from anywhere in the world. These programs also offer easy integration with social media tools that allow the Website to be instantly publicised on the Internet and shared with users around the globe.

Clearly, we have come a long way in a very short period of time. However, although it may be hard to believe, the Web is still in its infancy. As the ever-increasing number of Internet users continues to demand newer and better technologies, faster service and more cost-effective Websites, the future of the Internet is limited only by our own imaginations.

The key for today’s business owners is to ensure that their Websites remain up-to-date so that they can make the most efficient use of all the new tools that allow them to maintain the strongest possible presence on the Web.

Ali Mohammadi is the founder of Global Access Group, a web design company; Global Access Hosting, a web presence provider company; Montreal Networking Group, a Montreal-based business networking group; and Fantasia Events and Entertainment, a Montreal-based special events management and coordination company.