Evolution of Web-design: From custom HTML to Responsive Design
We can start our conversation with a very common question that, presently, is it possible to spend a single day without internet. It is not surprising at all that the answer of the question would be a big NO. We people have now become very much accustomed with asking for the help of internet in almost every aspect of our daily life and this has made it difficult to imagine even a single day without internet. There is no secret to the fact that the popularity and the utilization of internet is increasing very rapidly among the people in the entire world. We got introduced with internet in the mid 60s of the last century and since then massive improvisations have taken place in this aspect.
Within such a short frame of time, internet has undergone blistering changes and improvisations and as a result of which now, we get more advanced facilities from internet. And all these have become possible because we felt the necessity. After all, it is the mother of all inventions. However, now-a-day, internet is considered as the most effective medium of collecting information about anything and apart from that, we use internet for various other purposes as well. What entices more and more people to use internet is the convenience of using it. You can very easily reach your desired destination with it.
While we are talking so much about internet and how it has made human life simpler by many ways, we should also have necessary knowledge about websites and the different effective aspects of it. It is the ultimate thing that helps us to collect the information. Millions of websites are there on the World Wide Web and we collect our required information from those websites. It is obvious that plenty of websites are there which offer similar services and thankfully, we’ve got the flexibility to go with our preferred one. In most instances, it is the design of the website that encourages people to spend more time in it. So, you can understand that how important the design of your website is. Today, we’ll primly discuss on this subject and also will focus on how web design has evolved from HTML to responsive design. But before we start, we need to have the preliminary concept about what web design is.
What is Web Design?
To put the fact in simple words, web design depicts a process of designing websites to provide necessary information in a suitable way to the visitors although, the entire process is not as simple as it sounds. It involves so many things together and more than that it requires adequate planning, creation and updating of the website as well.
A website may appear to you as merely a page, full of information but it consists of so many things and hard work. Information architecture, user interface, website layouts, colors, contrasts, fonts, and photography etc. all these things need to be fallen into the right place to build an informative website which looks attractive as well. Designing websites is different from what we perceive about designing any material aspect. We primly focus on the visual attraction when it comes to designing any object but, web-design also includes few more aspects like; usability, ergonomics, user habits, navigation logic and many more things. All these aspects play their own part of role to make your website informative as well as appreciated by the search engines.
Web design also includes various tasks that are involved in creating web pages. The various pages of a website, presenting information with the help of different technologies are linked with each other with hyperlinks. There may have only two basic aspects of any web-page, found on the internet. One is the presentation through which the users basically interact visually and the other one is the back-end which includes information particularly for non-human browsers. And all these things are part of web-design. The basic markup language which is used to instruct the browser how to present the information is called the HTML (Hyper Text Markup language) and a stricter version of it also has a wide use and that is known as XHTML (Extensible Hyper Text Markup Language). We’ll get to know about all these aspects of web-designing part by part.
In the early days of introduction of the websites, the whole documents and information were viewed in HTML platform where everyone could access and view the information if they were online. Those were called “First Generation” sites where there were lots of texts, few limited colors and graphics with linear layouts. At that time the prime focus was on the functional communications and not on entertaining the visitors. But time has travelled a long distance and the requirements and taste of the common people have changed a lot. Now a day, we all love to get everything in visually pleasing way. Today, we access the internet to get information about everything that may have uses in our lives and it is undeniable that we get attracted towards the striking, smooth and more importantly, towards a user friendly presentation. From this realization, the concept of Responsive Web Design came into the picture. We’ll definitely discuss this effective and modern format of web-designing later in this article.
So, here in the above passage I have tried to discuss the Web-design in a brief way. Now I am going to discuss some useful tools of responsive designing that has made it visually as well as performance wise more attractive. You can now construct your site just as you wish to. The very first tool that comes into my mind is CSS. Now, what is the usefulness of it and how it improvises the design? OK, let’s get into there.
What is CSS?
It is the abbreviated form of Cascading Style Sheet. It was developed around the 1997 for the sake of the web developers to separately define the Looks and the Feel of a web-page. The prime intention was and still is to differentiate content from designs so that HTML can perform more functions. The original base is to mark up the content without being worried about the design and layout. It took some time or rather years to gain popularity and in around 2000, when the browsers started to use more than what is the basic color and font aspects of CSS. Since that day, all the versions or the different levels of it are supported by all the browsers.
CSS has different versions which we will discuss a little later. One more thing I would like to mention here is that, designers who are not using CSS for the development and designing of websites, are going to become like an extinct group in the near future. Both CSS and HTML are important to be known yet, few may be a little bias to CSS.
What does Style Sheet refers in designing?
It is nothing but the document itself. It is being used for document designing for years and it is one of the technical specifications as well for print or online layout. To be more specific, print designers use this tool to ensure the fact that the design, made by them is printed out in an exact way. Moreover, the Style Sheet for a particular web page does the same thing but with an added advantage of telling the searching web how to make the document viewed. And the CASCADE is the special part of it. A style sheet of a web is always intended to cascade through a series of style sheets. If the web designer doesn’t even apply any style then also the web page is affected with at least a single style sheet. It is called the user-agent style sheet which is used by the web browser to display a page as a default style sheet provided, the designer has not input any other instruction. But if other instructions have been provided by the designer, the browser will recognize that instruction which has the priority. Let me give you an example to make it better understandable to you.
For example, in your web browser you may use the “Algerian” as the font and size 14 as default but hardly any page will be displayed in that font and size if the designer has set any second style sheet to redefine the font size and overrides your browsers defaults. The Cascade will only define the second style sheet that is set by the designer.
Alright, this was Cascade Style Sheet’s (CSS) a brief description and now we will follow what are the different types or rather the versions of CSS.
The Cascading Style Sheet has three different levels CSS1, CSS2 and CSS3and now we will discuss all the three version of it in a brief manner.
Different versions of CSS
· CSS1:- It is the first specification of Cascade Style Sheet. Back in the year 1996 it became the recommendation of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It had the properties of controlling the typography which includes fonts, text alignments, margins and list formatting. Thus the dimension of the black-level boxes can be specified by the designers and then they can surround the boxes with borders. But for your information, CSS1 has not much to offer when it is about layout and design. Yes, you can specify the foreground and background colors, images and floating the box to the left or to the right is also possible but not layout and design.
· CSS2:- The second version of it came out somewhere around 1998. It was filled up with lot more exclusive features that the designers were looking for. Vast improvements were also been made in the areas like paged media (printing) and style sheet content. Boxes could be made to act like HTML table cells or different positioning of them was possible. More powerful selectors were made available, importation of style sheets into other style sheets were possible, and style sheet rules could be specific to certain form of output media.
After starting its use, it was realized that some parts CSS2 were a bit complicated to be implemented as a result, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) decided to revise few of the specifications so that it becomes adaptable for real life situations. Many of the exclusive features of paged media were removed
· CSS3:- In a way we can say that this version is the modularization of Cascade Style Sheet in order to allow any addition to the specification and to limit the properties that are used in a particular situation as well. This CSS version is divided into modules and each of the modules can be a recommendation from others.
Some exclusive features of CSS3 which have been implemented already include multi-column output of text, opacity control, text shadows and rounded corners or borders.
The importance of CSS
It is considered one of the most important tools of web-designing and the designer should learn the applications of this tool because it can change the overall mood and tone of a website. If the style sheet is well written it can be up updated very quickly and will allow the sites to change its priorities and values without making any change to underlying XHTML. As CSS combines cascade and the browsers interprets the directives quite differently, it may seem a bit difficult than plain HTML but after you start using it, you will find that it provides more options and allows the designer to do more with the websites. If you posses a dream of becoming a professional web-designer, you need to learn Cascading Style Sheet and the relieving factor is that it is fun to learn. Now, we’ll move forward to HTML.
What is HTML?
You can imagine as HTML is the “mother tongue” of you website. Firstly, we would take a look at the brief history of how HTML was invented around in 1990. It was invented by a scientist named Tim Berners-Lee just to make access to the research topics the scientists from different Universities were involved in. It was a huge success, more than Tim had imagined. It is the abbreviated form of Hyper Text Markup Language. It is the authoring language that has a great use now in creating documents in the World Wide Web. With the help of this language, presenting information on the internet has become possible. What we get to see when we access a website page is the interpretation of the browsers of HTML.
It simply defines the structure and layout of a web document by using different types of tags and attributes. While creating a HTML document, you have to follow the correct structure. The appropriate HTML structure starts with <HTML><HEAD> (here you have to enter what mainly the document is about)<BODY> and finishes with </BODY></HTML>. All the information that you want your website to be filled up with should be fit in between the <BODY> and </BODY> tag.
Numerous other tags are also used in order to format and layout the information of a web page. These tags also have the use to specify hyper text links. These tags allow the web developers to direct the visitor to another web page by just a click of a mouse to an image or words.
When you write a HTML, you are actually adding “tags” to the text to create a particular structure and these “tags” will instruct the browser how to display the text or the graphics. The below mentioned example will clarify the matter in better way.
Why I Like Reading Books at leisure time
I love reading books as it gives me immense pleasure. It is one of my favorable pass time and I this way I can develop my general knowledge as well. Moreover you get to know about various countries of the world without even visiting there.
I love reading because of the following reasons.
· It passes the leisure time quite well.
· It develops the concentration power.
· It enriches the general knowledge.
Now to achieve the similar layout in different browsers you need to add tags. Below I have mentioned the same document with HTML tags.
<title>Why I like reading books</title>
<h1> Why I like reading books at leisure time. </h1>
<p> I love reading books as it gives me immense pleasure. It is one of my favorable pass time and I this way I can develop my general knowledge as well. Moreover you get to know about various countries of the world without even visiting there.</p>
<p>I love reading because of the following reasons.</p>
<li> It passes the leisure time quite well.</li>
<li> It develops the concentration power.</li>
<li> It enriches the general knowledge.</li>
Now, at the resulted page of the site you will not get to see tags. They are all gone. This is because the tags instruct the browser how to display the files without showing themselves.
How to view the hidden code?
When you learn something new and start working with that, it always has a great importance to see how other people are making the use of the same thing. It is quite easy when it comes to HTML because each and every file that you get to see through your browser is formatted in HTML. Here the question is how you would see the stuffs that belong to others. Simply you have to view the source code and below are the step by step detail of how to get there.
· Access the internet
· Open the Internet Explorer or Netscape navigator
· Enter the address of your preferred site
· First click on the view on the toolbar then go to source (for internet explorer) or source page (for Netscape navigator).
Within fraction of seconds, you will get to see the hidden code of that page. Viewing the page will provide the experience to you regarding how the “big guys” are following things in this regards. Moreover, viewing how others are using codes is considered as one of the best ways to be accustomed with how HTML works.
Different versions of HTML
So far, five different versions of HTML have been released and each of them is focused to offer better structuring of web document. Here one thing is worth mentioning that when HTML 1.0 was introduced, it had lots of limitations in terms of styling and presentation of content. You couldn’t use table or frames, specify the fonts, and change the page background. And because of these restrictions, pages that were created with this version, used to appear the same with same background and font type. Especially notable, when this HTML 1.0 was introduced, there was no existence of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and accordingly this version was not formally specified by W3C.
We will now discuss the other versions of HTML.
HTML 2.0:- It was released around 1995 and it was the first classic version of HTML. It was considerably improved than the previous version and was supported by more browsers. Apart from that, it also supported different forms of web designing with such limited elements such as; text boxes and option buttons. It was also included with features like change of background and use of tables, though they were poor in aligning attributes. Within the period between the introduction of HTML 1.0 and HTML 2.0, W3C was constituted.
HTML 3.2:- A major development was witnessed from HTML 2.0 to HTML 3.2 when it was introduced somewhere around 1997. Of course it was included with the support for forming tables, images, headings and other elements as well such as; alignment attributes and few other details. Through this version, complicated mathematical equations were allowed into the web pages.
Due to the delaying of W3C to agree the next version of HTML 2.0, this 3.2 was created instead of HTML 3.0. This version was also included the support for CSS though browser manufacturers didn’t support it very well. The browser manufacturers did include support for frames nevertheless; the HTML 3.2 didn’t support this feature.
HTML 4.0:- This version of HTML was the next major release after 3.2. HTML4.0 was introduced in the year 1998. It was an SGML (Standard General Markup Language) application and this version phased out the Netscape’s visual features by supporting the style sheets. HTML 4.0 enriched the browser’s open features and later in this year, this version was re-issued with some small changes to it.
HTML 4.0.1:- This current official version of HTML was introduced in the year 1999. It added the support for style sheets and for scripting for the multimedia elements. It was primly focused on separating the presentation styling information from the original content by using style sheets. With the use of HTML 4.0.1, changing the appearance or the look of a website by just changing the style sheet has become possible now. On the contrary, in the previous versions changing the appearance/look meant changes of the styling information of the individual pages and accordingly, a site containing many pages would need to change the styling information of many pages.
HTML 5:- It is the latest version of HTML. The version 5 saw the daylight in the year 2008. This version is included with its own HTML serialization along with the serialization of XML based HTML 5. Among the several tags which are available in HTML 5 (such as; figure, figcaption and aside) “detail” and “summary” are the two most important tags which allow the designer to hide some of the long contents by displaying just the summary.
Now, we are about to discuss one more important feature of web-designing which has really brought a revolutionary change in the world of web-designing. Yes, I’m talking about Google Font. Let’s discuss briefly how it has helped the designing.
What is Google Font?
In a very brief way, you can say that it is a web font which is absolutely free and considered an easy way to implement non-standard fonts in your website through a properly licensed and widely supported fashion. It contains over 500 web fonts which you can apply in your website.
Today, you are not required to be informed about the importance of typography and you must be aware of that an eye-catching font can attract more and more traffic and can develop the conversion of them into reliable consumers, also it is helpful to provide a better tone to the site which seems like you are talking to your targeted audience. But the question still remains that so many fonts are out there and hundreds are already there in your computer then why go for Google Fonts?
The absolute answer of the above question is that, you obviously want your visitors to see the font exactly the way you, as the designer of the site see the font on your computer. There are only a few “web-safe fonts” (such as Arial, Verdana etc.) that you can expect your visitors to see as you intent it to be in almost all types of devices. You may like a particular font but that may not be visible by your visitors in their system and they may be getting a “fallback” font on their computers, this problem is greatly diminished by Google fonts. Google font doesn’t rely on those fonts that are installed on the visitor’s computers rather it is platform agnostic which indicates that a site using its font will precisely appear as you want it, in spite of not having installed locally.
How to change the font?
It is an important aspect of Google font and as well for the website that every font will not work everywhere and as a designer you need to be careful about that. But it is fortunate enough that Google font allows the designer to customize the preview in order to match the case. By entering custom preview text, you can change your preview size. If you are concerned about the size of the font or the text, you can easily change that as long as the website is built with such technologies that allow the access to the designer to control the text size. Different browsers (such as; Firefox, Internet explorer, Netscape etc.) have its own applications to do the same thing and you can go through separately those techniques.
You will get millions of font sites on the internet where you can download your required neat and obscure font face from. After you load it you canset the code. It would look absolutely fine on your computer but on those where the same front face is not loaded, it won’t display the same. In this case, you can follow some conventional concept of not using non-traditional font. However, if you use a font that you must need on your page youcan take the help of an image editor and with that you can create an image that contains text as well.
Now, we’ll move forward to another important aspect of web-designing that is GRAPHICS. It is considered as an art and adding or creating appropriate graphics to your business website really helps to promote your business. We get to see graphics all around us and in most cases it is used to convey messages through symbols or pictures. The common examples of this art work that we often get to see on the roads are the symbols of schools, hospitals or a road sign that conveys to drive safely, all these are the examples of graphics.
When it comes to designing a website, graphics play an important role. A website is consists of Graphics, Company Logo and Text among many other useful aspects. If you think practically, a website, merely filled up with text and information will not attract the visitors and the least who visit, may find it boring whereas the same text with colorful graphics will enhance the attraction and the quality of that text manifold. While creating a website, if a graphic designer can make a perfect blend of texts and graphics, it would make the website both attractive and informative. It is important because this is what the visitors notice first…
Here are some benefits of Graphic Designs:
· Involve visitors: Over the last decade business tactics have experienced a lot of changes. Website has occupied the place to promote a business globally. A visually attractive website attracts more traffic and not only that, it keeps them involve as well which allow them to read the information and know about your business.
· Increase the business: More than attracting traffic to the site, it holds a great value to convert them into regular and loyal consumers. What happens to a graphically rich website is massive number of people feel good to visit these sites and thus it becomes easy for you to convey your business and build a potential customer base.
· Healthy fights with competitors: You cannot grow in your business unless you give a healthy fight to your business competitors and if you are planning so through your business website, it ought to be graphically well designed. A site enriched with eye-catching graphics and relevant as well as informative contents will certainly stand apart in the competition.
If used properly, graphics can work as a well written content. You can take the help of quantitative graphics and process diagrams in order to explain things visually. Moreover, using photographs and illustrations provide a very simple presentation of what you want to say in a more memorable way.
As we have discussed about the GRAPHICS and in a brief way now we’ll focus on the responsiveness of the website. After gathering the information, you would love your visitors to know about your company your prime focus should be on how to make that feel wow and more importantly, you should pay sincere attention to make your site appear the same in every gadgets with different screen resolutions. Only a RESPONSIVE design can sort out this problem
Now, you must be thinking what the heck is this responsive web-design?
Not to worry! It is basically a combination of numerous technical aspects that are applied in order to make your website visibly and applicably more attractive to the visitors. One real life example will clarify the incident to you. Now a day, you must have observed that a massive number of people are accessing the internet through their smart-phones or tablets. Even few studies have also revealed that in the near future, the number of people accessing the internet through wireless gadgets will increase dramatically and the number of PC users will decrease gradually. So you have to design your website in such a way so that everyone can access your site from any device and get to see a richer resolution. If you do not follow this designing method for your website, normally what would happen is the wireless gadget user will not get to see the maximum resolution because of a smaller screen resolution and they would need to scroll horizontally to fully view the site. This ultimately will impose negative impacts to the users and chances are there that the visitor may move to another service provider. Thus you will not be able to convert the huge traffic into potential customers and your conversion rate optimization will remain low.
Here Responsive Web Design comes into the picture. Basically, it uses a common system which is recognized by all types of browsers and the website layout is automatically adjusted to respond properly to the visitors. If you do not take the help of this technique, you would have to obtain multiple design strategy where you have to design your website separately for different gadgets with various screen resolutions. This way you need to engage more web-designers and expense a lot of money. But responsive web design can smoothly omit the problem.
Some major benefits responsive web design provides:
· It is considered the most ideal solution in order to make your website clearly visible by the users who are using comparatively lower screen resolution. This will develop an attention among the visitors regarding your site and will be able to convey what you have to say through your site quite perfectly. Moreover, this would discourage them to move to other business competitors.
· It saves your money and time. Until few years back, you would have to make different sites to support different browsers and various screen resolutions. Now, through responsive designing you can accomplish all the needs that you intend for.
· Not only the above facilities thus, you are actually allowing your site to rank at the upper side of the search engine result. The prime reason is the single URL for all devices.
· One more effective result of it is an increased conversion rate. As the visitors get more flexibility to visit your site from any device, it would convert the traffic into a loyal customer of your service.
Alright! What you have gone through in the above was a brief yet effective discussion on Evolution of Web-design from HTML to Responsive design. It could have been longer and full of more information but I don’t have that much extent to discuss these features more elaborately. Getting in touch with us will let you know more about web-designing on a regular basis.