Looking back, it’s quite hard to remember the days without the internet, particularly as when a count was done towards the end of 2017, more than 8.4 billion devices were connected to it.

Even more impressive is the fact that by 2020, this figure should hit 50 billion!

With more devices connecting daily and the type of devices evolving all the time, without doubt the internet is the fastest growing technology ever.

This is in terms of usage as well as ongoing financial returns received by stakeholders.

The internet has created a truly global market with services across all sectors now being provided to anyone, anywhere in the world. And due to the arrival of the IoT (Internet of Things), we are now going through a phase where the way we interact with the internet is also changing for the better.

If we cut to the very core of the internet, we will find web applications that enable users to receive their chosen service. The drivers of information not only present data but also attain it.

With the evolution of the internet being such a fascinating topic, let’s take a closer look at how it has developed.

Website development back in the 90s

Back in the middle of the 1990s, website designs created by ‘web masters’ were fairly basic. It was at this point that:

  • Background images began to appear
  • Web pages mostly followed a column format which helped with customisation
  • Graphics were now starting to show up
  • Visitor counters, active in real-time, could be added
  • Animated GIFs became common

Whilst this may sound simplistic to us today, even these graphics made websites more attractive, although the performance still remained undeveloped.

Then we entered the late 1990s and the shift focused onto making sites more user-friendly. One of the key software programs that enabled this was Flash. This was followed by Microsoft Ajax in 1999 which made use of JavaScript to boost web browser performance.

Going into the 2000s

At the beginning of the 2000s, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) arrived. This enabled web developers to work on layouts for each page. HTML took care of the text and CSS the visuals, enabling the same content to be used in a variety of ways. This not only made personalisation possible but made loading faster and the sites easier to maintain.

Most of us will recall Gmail hitting the market in 2004. An immediate hit within the marketplace due to its responsivity, it had JavaScript incorporated. From then on, programmers began looking at using JavaScript to build more responsive and interactive websites.

2005 was the year of YouTube and online video streaming became huge. In turn, videos began to show up on the internet far more, adding another facet to websites, whether for entertainment, e-learning or information. iQuery quickly followed in 2006, increasing usability and responsiveness, all thanks to John Resig.

Now we come into the era of the iPhone and this all happened in 2007 when Apple hit the market with the first model. A complete game-changer, now website developers had to begin creating designs that would be viewable on mobiles. From this point onwards, mobiles became the go-to devices for internet interaction.

Quickly following on in 2008, we get the Apple App Store. Now 3rd party developers had the opportunity to have their apps made available to iPhone users for downloading. The beginning of the app culture, developers now had a marketplace wide open to them, enabling them to sell a product/service suitable for mobiles.

In 2010, the JavaScript framework, BackboneJS, became available to developers, furthering their uptake of JavaScript.

So now we had smartphones and speedy internet connections, hence web projects mainly centred around minimising website loading time, increasing security and boosting ease of use. All of these became key when ecommerce began to really take off in the mid-2000s.

Where we are today

Unlike those sometimes-confusing times of the past, now web designers are clear about the use of the internet. Add into this the IoT, as well as a vast amount of new internet hardware that can be connected, and design perspectives have changed to adapt to the current set of circumstances.

Web designers today cannot afford to ignore SEO (search engine optimization) and fast page loading times. Fixed page sizes are a thing of the past as they now must adjust to suit the viewing device. In order to deal with the problem of variable sizes of webpages and the many devices being used to view them, the theory of ‘one web’ manifested. This simply means that the website or web app will change their structure and visual looks according to the responsive elements built into the CSS code; the term ‘responsive’ website now emerged. When HTML5 and CSS3 hit in 2014, web applications were able to work in line with the ‘one web’ theory.

Where are we going to be tomorrow?

So, having looked at the evolution of web development, where does this leave us? How can you be sure that your website is going to be fit for the purpose going forward, considering all of the changes that have already manifested?

It must be said that if you are going to make one single investment in your website, it should be to make it responsive regarding its design. This will mean that it will adapt to suit any type of viewing device, whether it be a mobile phone or a desktop computer.

Your website visitors will be able to view your site clearly, easily and quickly via a mobile phone, tablet or desktop with the site looking the same on each one. They will not be hindered or frustrated by having to scroll and zoom in and out.

Once your web designer makes your website responsive in design, it will be adaptable. Going forward, as new types of mobile devices hit the market, your site will be ready to deal with them in a proactive way.

The age of the mobile is here and is going to be the way of the future so any business that has a website which is not viewable on a mobile or who has two sites; one for a mobile and one for a desktop, is going to be regarded as old-hat.

This will detract from use of their site and even threaten their reputation and brand.

Going forward with eyes wide open

Reading through this article, you may feel that the evolution of web development has gone so far that it is sure to slow down going forward, but don’t be fooled; the internet is already used to do so many things, particularly when it comes to interacting with clients and showcasing your brand. By ensuring that you a have taken heed of the changes that have already occurred, you should be well prepared for going into the future with eyes wide open.

Your website/application needs to be future proof so make sure that it is fully responsive, very flexible and absolutely personalised. This way you have a good chance of making your brand stand out.