30 years ago the first website went live. It happened at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland. It was simple, crude, and mostly just text. 28 Years ago, the first web browser called Mosaic was unveiled. These 2 events were integral to the popularization of the World Wide Web. Before reaching the year 2000, there were only several million websites. Now, we have well over a billion. Today, the internet is a normal part of life, and owning a website has become analogous with owning a wallet or a cell phone.
Because the internet was a brand-new invention to most people in the 90’s, many websites used to look very different from how they do today. They were silly and funny, some were tacky, plenty were just several graphics plastered on a page, and most were for just for fun. Even popular brands’ websites in the 90’s would look unrecognizable if compared side by side to their current counterparts. That time was the experimental era that would set the stage for how the web would look like today. The internet, which started out as an R & D project in a lab, is now a tool that is used by many.
The modern internet as we know it has reached a sense of uniformity. Many websites are sleek, fast, and also look similar to one another. Because of the shear number of websites out there, this sameness gives users a chance to explore content, rather than worry about navigation and orientation. That is not to say that there are not countless unique, beautiful, and stylish websites out there. It is just that they all share some common items and themes.
When looking at the basic anatomy of a webpage, there are a few things to consider. Website layouts should be clear, concise, flow well, and stand out at the same time. Navigation should be simple and lead the user easily around the site. Images should be clear, and a good color palate should be utilized.
Forms can be found on just about every site. They range from contact forms and trip bookings to logins and posts. Because users will interact with these items, they must be able to deliver a good experience. Forms must be quick, simple, minimal, and reactive. They will after all determine if the user makes the final call to deliver his input, ideas, or information to and from the website.
These days, people will no longer tolerate waiting minutes or sometimes even several seconds for websites to load. Expectations and standards have increased, along with the availability of better resources, such as CDN (content delivery networks), load balancers, better servers and infrastructure, and clouding computing options. All websites should be optimized for performance. Images should be properly sized and cached, scripts should be minified, compression should be enabled, and Http requests limited along with the number of files requested. Also, a good practice is to take advantage of asynchronous loading methods. These are just a few of many website optimizations options.
There is certain content that usually is a good idea to include on every website. A clear purpose along with a call to action is vital. Strong branding and clear graphics are always good to include. Social media links are the norm. A good FAQ section with a vivid explanation about the company or person will keep users informed. Of course stories, blogs, explanations, testimonials, and many others will provide a good experience for the user and some good SEO for the search engines.
Before, all internet activity was confined to the personal computer. Today, smart phones, watches, and tablets have taken over a larger market share. It is essential for a website to be responsive and optimized for viewing mobile devices. If a user or potential customer notices that the online experience for a website is not the greatest, there is a good chance that they will leave and never come back. First impressions are key.
Accessibility is also a vital consideration during website creation and design. The internet has to be fairly and easily viewed and accessed by all human beings. It is important to make sure that pages can be easily read, have good color contrasts, incorporate tags and labels, and maintain proper sizing of all elements on all screens and in all conditions. This ensures that every set of eyes on the planet is able to enjoy all content on the web.
Security has become a hot topic on the internet and seems to be a concern for many users and creators alike. It is no longer some mundane and overlooked concern, especially with so much private information moving and living online. Even the most basic and low trafficked websites have begun to utilize basic security measures. Encryption (HTTPS/TLS), strong passwords, 2FA (2 Factor Authentication), data validations (Front/Back End), latest software, and common attack mitigations should be used.
The internet has been around for 30 years. It has moved from the laboratory during the experimental stages and graduated to a stable, worldwide, usable, and all-encompassing tool. It is used by millions every single moment of every single day. When websites are beautiful, clean, fast, secure, and creative, creators and users alike can focus on ideas, concepts, and knowledge, without worrying so much about infrastructure, stability, and usability.