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Software development

The Changes in Web Development Since the Advent of the Web

Moore’s law, which states that microchips have doubled in power every approximately two years and will continue to do so, is constantly called upon to predict the advancement of hardware and the capabilities of hardware in the coming years. It is, however, less frequent to see the implications and characteristics of Moore’s law explored in regards to how it affects web development and design. There is no doubt that the internet most Americans began to experience in the 1990s is vastly different than the one we log on to and communicate with one another through now every day. It isn’t always easy to pinpoint exactly what changed in order to make things so much different. Exploring that seemingly invisible current of updates, modifications, and innovations, though, is remarkably valuable for those looking to be a part of the future of web development.

Web Development of the 90s Into the 00s

Many internet users and web developers will remember the 90s internet fondly. In many ways, the 90s web was a wild west; intrepid independent developers of all types were setting out to find popularity and success alongside major corporate interests hoping to establish themselves on the frontier that was (correctly) predicted to be the future of business and marketing.

The internet of the 90s saw the wide popularity of text forums which quickly evolved into image forums. The rise of web hosting services like GeoCities offering free hosting (and premium upgrades for a price) meant that many newcomers to the web began to make their own sites largely based around their own interests. Understandably, the experience from site to site varied wildly, with some sites being notoriously difficult to navigate.

One of the most widespread web development trends in the 90s was the creation of visual aspects of sites using HTML only. This led to sites which were not ideally optimized and also represents one of the largest areas of evolution in web development since the advent of the web. In the mid-90s, the world wide web consortium began to recommend the use of “cascading style sheets,” which were external documents that instructed HTML webpages how to display the site for users. Cascading style sheets would become more and more popular throughout the 90s and into the 2000s.

In the 2000s, the internet saw the rise of Adobe Flash and the coming-of-age of JavaScript. Video viewing sites and multiplayer gaming had their starts. This era saw the greatest variance in sites, with many holdovers from the 90s clashing with the rising styles of web development that incorporated CSS, videos, and dynamic audio.

All of this was made possible by a combination of improved development efficiency and innovations in hardware that allowed for faster internet speeds, greater server size, and more efficient processors on the user’s side of things.

Contemporary Web Development and The Evolutions Therein

Web development in recent years has largely been focused on one monolithic challenge: the rise of mobile browsing. Mobile browsing, however, has caught on faster than anyone could have expected. Mobile web use now outweighs any other type of browsing, a paradigm shift that no one could have been fully prepared for.

While mid-2000s web development was characterized by struggles to match scale and deliver higher and higher definition content, the late 2010s has been characterized by the abandonment of heavier frameworks and the need for universalized user experience.

For the last handful of years, web development has shifted towards ensuring that websites deliver a fantastic experience on both personal computer and smartphones or tablets. Above and beyond just delivering a good experience, users have expressed a desire for websites to deliver a seamless experience between desktop and mobile devices. Thankfully, for the most part, the technology is there. The part that is still evolving is the development and design techniques that can ensure a fantastic experience across all of the many device types that users are now accessing the web with.

Additionally, an ongoing change online is the abandonment of longtime staples of website design, such as Flash, in favor of moving to HTML5. HTML5 allows for the native integration of popular types of media (like videos and music) in a way that doesn’t require countless independent plugins, which all must be updated independently. Also, browsers themselves have advanced considerably in recent years, providing users a smoother, more convenient experience.

For web developers looking forward, mobile development will be the horizon to watch, as well as the continued integration of social media into everyday websites. The trend of web innovation and evolution seems to be just as fast paced as that of hardware advancement, albeit seemingly quieter in the eyes of the general public. The future of web development is an intimidating, but exciting frontier.

If you want to prepare your business for the future, call on experts who understand their craft. The past can always prepare us for the future, and the story of tech is to expect the unexpected. Our team at is constantly ready to innovate and we can help you be ready, too.


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