I started designing websites professionally some 10 or so years ago now, and at that time the Internet was a very different place to how it is now.
YouTube was 5 years away from broadcasting it’s first video, the Search engine of choice was Yahoo (or maybe even Alta Vista), being able to surf the net from your mobile phone was a laugh whilst most homes were still on dialup.
The general state of design on the net seemed to be a far cry from the wealth of great design we have now – sites were either very basic HTML or increasingly, more and more sites were built using Flash. Flash seemed to be the tool of choice for designers coming from other media that were getting into the, now popular, realm of web design.
You didn’t have to worry about web-safe fonts or how the site looked in different browsers, you could use your skills as a designer and build a site that looked exactly how you wanted it to. No need to hand-code like a programmer, just learn how to use the Flash software and a few functions and away you go. Programmers also helped these would-be Flash designers by posting their source files on the net for all to use and learn from (Joshua Davis with his Praystation site being a pioneer of this). You could now design sites that looked good, moved around and were interactive. HTML just looked tired and basic. In 2001 Flash shipped pre-installed on all Windows XP machines making it available on 92% of all computers connected to the Internet.
Then along came video on the net. YouTube launched in 2005 using Flash to stream video clips. It made it easy to upload and to share video. Designers started to integrate video into websites and Flash quickly became the de-facto media player. As of 2005, more computers worldwide had the Flash Player installed than any other Web media format.
So what’s changed…?
This article is to be continued…