The history of the website


1889 – 2005

The first improvements

15 prices

2005 – today

From garish to minimalistic


1989 – 2005

August 6, 1991

This is the date Sir Tim Berners-Lee changed the history of the internet. This is the day he launched the very first website. He made the website to inform people about ‘www’ (as you may recognize from website URL’s), World Wide Web project.

This is how the first website looked like:

This is the first website. It is used in connection with an article about the history of the website.
The first website on the internet. (Click to go to the website.)

But actually, the history begins 2 years before, in year 1989. Tim sent his proposal: “Information management: A proposal” about the www project to his boss at CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), that first rejected his proposal. It was first a year later his boss warmed up to the idea and allowed Tim to work on his project.

As the name of the project indicates, the website was originally invented to share information among people. As you know from today’s websites, it became much more than that.

Same year, 1999, Tim had invented three types of codes: HTML, URI and http. His website was opened to more people than just CERN people. Tim wanted his invention to be available for everyone, so in April 1993 all the codes, and hereby the opportunity to create websites, became royalty-free. In no time, over 500 servers from different companies appeared. Since then, the website has been in constant development. In 2018 there were over 1.8 billion websites on the internet!

The first improvements

The year before, in 1992, the first picture was uploaded on the internet. The first photo was a cover of “Les Horribles Cernettes” because Tim’s colleague Gernaro at that moment was working on the band’s album cover. It is not confirmed that this was actually the very first picture on the internet, but it certainly was the beginning of the website as we know it today. The first video-hosting website was, that is mostly the same as today’s YouTube. But the first website was actually a live video of a “Severe Tire Damage” performance, uploaded in 1993.

A year after, the first personal blog popped up. It was Justin Hall that created it in 1994, writing about his family. At this time, it was still called a personal website. His website is called and is still up and running to this day.

In just a few years many search engines had been invented, here among Google that was invented in 1998. The purpose of the search engines was to help people navigate around the many websites. In 1999, so many personal websites had been created that the term “blog” was invented. At the same time the blogger platforms began to appear, that made it easier for normal people to run a website.

Tim has won 15 prices for his invention

In year 2000, Tim won a ‘Royal Medal’, that is just one of fifteen prices he has won for his invention. In 2002 he won three prices, here among the Japan-price and the Marconi price. He was also knighted in 2004 by Queen Elizabeth, same year he won the Millennium Technology price.

Sir Berners-Lee wanted the websites to be available on all devices and in 2003 his wish came true.  “The mobile Web Initiative is important – information must be made seamlessly available on any device.”(Statement from Sir Tim Berners-Lee). It was at least made possible when the first 3G was invented that year.

As you can see, the website developed from being just informative text to a graphical website with both pictures and videos, in just a few years.

The biggest development in the history of the website clearly happened in the first 15 years. But there were some interesting changes in the years after 2005.

2005 – today

In 2008, Google had over one billion unique URL’s! When the website was first invented, it was crazy that there were 500 websites.

The website’s design has been through plenty of trends over the years. When Sir Tim Berners-Lee opened the very first website in 1989, it was exclusively text. In 2018, art and crooked frames is the newest trend. But what happened in between?

We already know that both images and videos was made possible relatively early after the website was invented. But what about the rest?

Already in the late 90’s, designers started to play around with the design of the text, that back then still was the most important element. Small animations, colours and ‘flash’ appeared. In this period, it was also very popular to make the website play music. The late 90’s showed a huge interest in 3D buttons and neon colours, that we would normally never see on a website today.

This shows McDonalds old website to show their part in the websites history
McDonalds old website

An example on these trends is McDonalds old website, that uses many different colours and 3D buttons. website (Click here to get to the website!)

Here is another good example. This website uses a lot of GIF’s, colours and plenty of abstract figures. The website still runs to this day. If you want to see a true stereotype 90’s website, you should click on the picture!

From garish to minimalistic

In the beginning of the millennium new year, CSS (Cascading style sheets) became a hit. This made it very easy to design all your website’s pages at the same time, so you didn’t have to code all the pages from scratch. The millennium new year also changed the 90’s colourful trends, and switched to a more minimalistic design, that has stuck since then.

Billedet viser msns gamle hjemmeside i forbindelse med artiklen om hjemmesidens historie. old website

From the mid 2000’s the trends are much like the trends we see today. Just like today’s social media platforms, there were much more focus on the social aspect. There was more focus on colours, icons and fonts. With’s old website as an example, it is clear to see that  the colours and layout is more downplayed than the previous examples. Furthermore, SEO was becoming a bigger thing, that we also very much use today. SEO is still in constant development.

In 2013, ‘responsive web design’ was a huge trend, that makes websites look good regardless of which device is used to display it. This is still incredibly important today, as many uses their phone to browse the web, as it is just as easy as using the computer. People are often ‘on the go’ and therefore it’s much more convenient to use the phone.

Some trends have gone, some are still sticking with us to this day. The 3D buttons have been switched to a more ‘flat’, minimalistic design, while there is still a huge focus on whitespaces and attractive fonts.

What trends have 2018 created, and what can we expect from 2019?

It is almost 30 years ago since the first website was launched, and much has happened since. Some trends have come and gone. For example, background music is not a trend many websites use anymore, while other trends such as the simpler design have been there for 20 years.

But we can still learn something from the first website on the internet. Your design can be as pretty and follow all the trends, but if your content and texts are boring and meaningless, the design doesn’t matter. People will still click away eventually. Therefore, even though design is important, your main focus should always be the content of your website.

But with that said, it is still the layout that catches the readers attention and makes them interested in your content. That’s why we will look at the different trends that has come and gone over the years, and possible new ones.

Generally, people are beginning to play around with the minimalistic design, and not be so afraid of strong colours and fun shapes.

Unusual colours and the “broken grid” layout has become very popular. That means that the straight lines are broken by different content and text boxes, overlapping each other.

It is still important that it doesn’t look messy! The design is still simple and clean, that you can see in the example down below.

A good example of many different trends gathered on one website is Yelvy. They have animations, gifs, broken grid and much more.

This can make a website a little more confusing because  of the many things that are happening all at once. But it can also give a nice effect. For example, ‘ Yelvy’ scrolls down as you scroll on the page. This is very strong usage of the broken grid effect, as the pictures is also placed random on the page.

Big pictures with minimalistic text

Art is also a big trend in 2018, that can work as a main element on a frontpage.This is just one of many examples:

Adobe’s website

The colourful picture catches the readers eyes and makes them interested in the rest. This also shows the extended use of colours. Beside the big picture there is a small minimalistic text, so that the website still looks stylish.

This is also a good and simple way to make your website visual.

Fun colours and angles is one of the biggest trends. Generally everything that breaks the tight, square design, that was a huge trend before.

To stay on the same subject, we can take a look at the increased use of videos on websites. Especially full-screen videos is extremely popular. An example of this is Sea Shepherd. When you go to their frontpage, a full-screen video immediately begins to play, and you can’t pause it (of course you can scroll down or click on another page). All of their pages have either a big video or picture  that is first thing the reader sees. It’s a very visual website.

Click here to go to Sea Shepherd’s website.

The video draws the reader into the company’s mission and vision instantly when they enter the website. They don’t have to click on anything or read anything. This quickly builds up the websites character and at the same time defines what the reader can expect from the website. When you use videos, it is more likely that the reader will stay on your website longer.

3D and animations

3D, that was a big trend in the late 90’s, might become a big trend again. Even though the effect will probably be used in a more stylish manner.

The use of animations on websites today vary a lot. Some website have their logo animated that just automatically plays. On the clothing brand Ivy Park’s website, you have to click with your mouse and hold, before the animation begins to play.

On Ivy Parks website you can play around and discover new animations as you click around. This makes the website unique but not as user friendly. This can easily be a new trend in 2019, that the user is not taken care of as soon as they click on the page. They have to figure it out themselves first. This can be a good way to target a younger audience, that is most likely Ivy Park’s target group. But concerning the elder segment, you should not make the internet even more confusing than it already is.

Click here to go to Ivy Parks website 

Ivy Parks website also plays music, that you might remember as a trend from the 90’s. They are clearly trying to mix and match new and old trends to differ themselves from the other brands and websites.

3D is also a recurring trend. It’s no surprise that it returned again in 2018. But in 2019 this trend have potential to get huge once again. The use of this effect will be more stylish of course, than in the 90’s.

The website that shows the use of 3D today is NBA’s website. Click here to see it. 

What will 2019 bring us?

Many of the huge trends from 2018 will most likely follow us into the new year.

We will definitely see more to the playful and almost “random” layout. WIth just over 1.8 billion websites on the internet, it’s important to stand out. Next year the trends might go away from the ‘maxistic’ design that we have seen a few places this year, for example on Yelvy’s website, and go back to the more minimalistic design.

Some website is experimenting with new trends already, to stand out from the massive amount of websites. Supreme is trying something new, they are bringing the old layout back.

Hjemmesidens historie viser også nogle trends der kommer og går. Supreme prøver at skabe en ny trend ved at bringe det helt gamle hjemmeside layout tilbage.

Are they trying to bring back the layout of the very first website?

This is not a trend as it is in 2018, but maybe in 2019 it could be. Generally Supreme has quite a funny website. For example, they have a “random” page, where just one video is uploaded with no further explanation. This can create curiosity and interest, but only because Supreme is a huge brand. If a less known brand tries this, it might lead to people leaving the page only because of the weird layout.

Brands and websites is getting more and more creative to stand out from the millions of websites that exists on the internet.


What other trends do you think 2019 will bring? And are there some elements from the past that might sneak back into the new year?

Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section below, what you think the future will bring.

Kind regards, 

The team from How To Create a Free Website