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Trip Down Memory Lane – Web Design

In this edition of a trip down memory lane series, we feature the comparison of Web Design from 2008 to 2018.  Web design has evolved greatly over this period of time.  Introducing new technologies, improved specifications and browsers becoming more consistent resulting in having to use fewer hacks. However, browser wars are still here to stay but who will be on top next year!

Read Other Parts in the series

Web Specifications

Building a website in 2008 required a lot of patience. Although HTML5 had been in development for some time, XHTML, which had been around for 7 years was still being used. Unfortunately, browsers weren’t fully compatible to display HTML5, if at all.

CSS 2 had been around for 10 years and although somewhat outdated, separated the style of the website from the structure well. The technologies worked well together to a certain degree, unfortunately, browsers didn’t agree!

In comparison, HTML5 is now the current specification. It features much more than its predecessor ever did. A new shorter, easy to remember Doctype!  It supports new semantic elements such as <header> and <footer>
It has the ability to embed Music and Video directly on a web page, better forms and much more.

CSS3 brought us animations, gradients, transforms, shadows, font-faces and media queries allowing us to target screen resolutions.

Useful reading

HTML5 & CSS3 Resources to Kickstart your First HTML5 Project.

Browser Wars

Everything works well when everyone sings from the same hymn sheet! Back in 2008 Internet Explorer ruled the web browser world. Microsoft dominated the PC market and therefore there were millions of people using the default web browser.  Not knowing that you could install one of the rivals like Mozilla Firefox or Opera. As a standard, you had to design your websites to work with Internet Explorer 6 & 7 first.  Many PCs were still using running Windows XP with Internet Explorer 6 installed.  The adoption of Firefox grew rapidly with Web Designers due to the extension manager which turned your browser into a powerful workhorse. Before the modern era of Integrated Web Developer Tools who didn’t use FireBug?

Internet Explorer Bugs

CSS, although very powerful became tricky to work with when designing for Internet Explorer.  Layouts required lots of CSS trickery and hacks to display them.  Thankfully fellow web designers quickly spotted the bugs and created workarounds (hacks) that fixed them, to a certain degree.

Browser wars still exist in 2018. They are more compliant, bugs are less prominent and Internet Explorer no longer has the monopoly of users it once did.  Does anyone still test in IE7?


Adobe Dreamweaver dominated the professional market of  WYSIWYG software since it’s acquisition of Macromedia in 2005. Microsoft Expression Web tried and failed to creep into the professional market. From 2012 it was free to download with no support.

However, if you were a fan of hand coding you had endless options.  In 2008 I hand coded a website using Gedit for Linux.  Other noteworthy popular text editors at the time were NotePad++ and PSPad for Windows.

If you wanted more of an Integrated development environment (IDE) Eclipse or Aptana was very popular at the time.

2018 – The new kids on the block are taking over the world!  Not quite, there is a new breed of text editor all which all have their own pros and cons.  Sublime Text has a popular following in the professional market.  Atom, VSCode and Brackets are popular among fellow open source enthusiasts.  All actively developed and here to stay!

Useful reading

Must Have Extensions to install on every Atom, Brackets & VS Code
Top Atom Packages You Should Install From The Start
Top 20 Brackets Extensions You Should Use

Web Design Conclusion

The following infographic highlights web design over the last decade. Here is to the next 10 years!

Web Design 10-Years

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