The World Wide Web turned 25 this month, and it got me thinking about how website creation has changed since Tim Berners-Lee first proposed it to his boss at CERN in 1989.
For the first few years websites had to be hand-coded by computer programmers, which rather limited their number and design.
My first website was built back in the mid 1990’s, for my then employer Hermes Pensions Management. I used, what was then, state of the art software in the shape of HotDog Pro from the wonderfully named Sausage Software.
It was something of a labour of love, as each new page was another step on a steep learning curve. However just like the game of Snakes and Ladders, one false step forward could result in many steps back. I still remember clearly the moment we realised moving one page, required manually editing links on every single page on the site.
We made a major leap forward when a colleague in our IT department suggested using FrontPage from Vermeer Technologies. This company was soon taken over by Microsoft who were keen to establish themselves in the world of web. As one of the first “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) editors, FrontPage was designed to hide the details of the dreaded HTML (hyper-text mark-up language), making it possible for novices to create Web pages and Web sites. Even better, when you moved a page, it automatically updated all the relevant links!
However although FrontPage was wonderful improvement, it did have major deign limitations, and it was all too easy to spot ‘FrontPage’ websites.
Next on the scene for me was Dreamweaver version 2, the ‘Ferrari’ of web design software (beautiful and fast… and a bit flaky at times). After a couple of days training we were able to start producing complex websites with beautiful pages.
After many updated versions, Dreamweaver is still available today but is dying a slow death thanks to content management platforms such as WordPress and Drupal (Dreamweaver is still dying).
But in the last year or two the world of website creation has been truly revolutionised by template based, low cost services from the likes of Weebly and SquareSpace.
Now almost anyone can create professional looking websites, with no technical skill at all.
I surprised myself by managing to create a very simple but attractive website for my father within a couple of hours using SquareSpace. Compare that to the week it took me to create a 20 page website for SLA Europe using Dreamweaver ten years ago.
A great example of a Weebly website is Keep Me Jewellery from one of my clients here at the Business & IP Centre. As you can see from his amazing creatures, Tom Blake has a great eye for design, but he doesn’t have any background in building web sites.
Also, these new platforms enable you to easily add a blog onto your website (an essential part of your marketing strategy – Blogging for fun and profit). And if you want to sell through your site there are shopping modules available too.
So if you were considering a career as a website designer, now might a good time to think again.