Two new technologies have changed the way professional website developers create and manage websites. A website you build today could potentially last forever.
The First 20 Years of the World Wide Web
The term World Wide Web was coined in the early 90s by Tim Berners-Lee, who in 1994 founded the World Wide Web Consortium, which created the standards used by most public websites today.
For the first 10 years, websites were a hodgepodge of text, photos, databases and apps. Most businesses still weren’t on the web.
For the next 10 years, websites were static “online brochure” style websites, sometimes combined with a blog, and most businesses were building their first of several websites.
In 2013 the World Wide Web changed in two important ways!
First, Jason Tweed and Michael Rapino launched Mediastead! (Well, this didn’t change the entire web, but we are working on it.)
Second, new technology became the standards. These two technologies are CMS (Content Management Systems) and Responsive Design.
These two technologies enable companies like Mediastead to build your last website ever! Here’s why:
Content Management Systems (i.e. WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal)
Content management isn’t a new concept or even a new technology. In the late 1990s early Internet users began to create “web logs” a.k.a. blogs. Several companies developed software that helped those who were inclined to write for the web, but had little ability to do web design or coding.
For business users blogs weren’t extremely common. Most blog software wasn’t extremely customizable and most business owners didn’t have the time or inclination to write web content. However, in the early 2010’s, social media was growing rapidly and consumers were hopping online in droves. Suddenly business related content became critical to success.
Simultaneously large groups of developers began creating content management systems, often variations of these original blogging platforms. The most famous and ubiquitous of which is WordPress. Developers learned to customize the look and feel (themes), and other developers built small add-on applications (plug-ins) for virtually every piece of web functionality known today.
Professional designers and developers could now use these platforms to create highly customized and highly functional websites that could still be maintained by less tech savvy end-users.
Small business owners could add and update their own content, and larger businesses could work with teams of content creators in-house.
Web development thus becomes an ongoing process rather than a single event.
The Mobile Revolution Empowered by Responsive Design
Simultaneously as businesses became more focused on content, consumers began to demand mobile access to the Internet. Specifically, on June 29, 2007 Apple rolled out the first iPhone and within three years smart phones were outselling computers.
Today, 90% of email is read on a mobile device. About 60% of e-commerce transactions occur on a mobile device. Local businesses can generate traffic, or in another scenario, can watch their business be decimated by negative online reviews.
Web development reacted slowly to these mobile devices, unfortunately, for most business owners. For the first five years, web development companies tried to sell business owners additional websites specifically targeting mobile users. The problem was that this nearly doubled the content creation and web development expenditures.
Additionally as Apple, Samsung, Motorola and their competitors rolled out new phones and tablets almost monthly, developing websites for one device didn’t necessarily fit all devices.
Around 2013 Responsive Design became the dominant philosophy in website design.
Responsive websites “respond” based on the size and shape of the browser, regardless of the device. Not only did this accommodate mobile phones and tablets, but it means that web developers will be able to accommodate virtually any flat screen.
Today you can surf the web on many devices, PCs, televisions, and web content can even be served to billboards and more. Later you’ll have Web-enabled screens in your car, on your wrist, on your refrigerator or kitchen wall, and every store and restaurant will use web technology in their bricks and mortar store.
A Technological Marriage Made in Heaven
Responsive design and content management systems have changed the way businesses work on the web. Since 2013 our firm has built roughly 50 websites, and all of them are well-equipped to last forever. New content can be created constantly. Updating themes and plug-ins can change the look and feel as well as the functionality of your website. Responsive designs keep your website current with new technology.
It’s an exciting time to be a web designer, because we are no longer limited by standards and technology becomes a catalyst for evolution rather than a requirement for change.
Soon the web will move into the physical world through virtual reality and Internet enabled objects, and having a good team of technological and creative geeks on your side will keep your business at the forefront of tomorrow.