The Evolution of Web Design

Jason Snell
Welcome to my online column. I'm Jason Snell, the features editor at Macworld and one of Macworld 's self-proclaimed Internet experts. This is the first installment in a series of online columns I'll be writing–concluding only when I'm pulled from the Macworld building, kicking and screaming, after my secret coup plans against Macworld Editor in Chief Andy Gore have been uncovered.

That last part was just between you and me, right?

In any event, this column will be the space where I will pontificate about the Web, especially from the perspective of those who create Web sites–the mass of Web authors and site designers, many of whom are avid Mac users. This isn't going to be a my-favorite-sites Web travelogue, I promise.


Before we go any farther, allow myself to introduce ...myself. In addition to my duties writing and editing for Macworld , I've spent a lot of time following the world of Internet publishing. I started using the Net in 1988, and began publishing the Net-based magazine InterText ( http://www.intertext.com ) in 1991. I've been creating Web pages since late 1992, and have been around to witness enormous changes in the way the Web works. I edit the cheeky TV-related Web site TeeVee ( http://www.teevee.org ), was in charge of the late, great MacUser magazine Web site, and prior to the Macworld-MacUser merger even had a monthly column in that magazine on the topic of the Internet and Web publishing.

In the time I've spent on the Net, I've gotten to see the Web evolve from a rudimentary mostly-text medium to one rife (maybe too rife) with graphics, video, audio, and more. And as the Web's content has evolved, so have the tools that designers use to create Web sites.

When I created the first InterText home page, I used the text editor built into my Eudora e-mail application. Many Web designers I know spent their formative Web editing years using SimpleText, Apple's plain-vanilla text editor. As HTML got more complicated, so did the tools. Now we have whole tiers of visual HTML editors, from the professional power of GoLive CyberStudio 3 (recently consumed by Adobe) and Macromedia's Dreamweaver 2 to the lower-powered Adobe PageMill and FileMaker Home Page. The hand-coding tools are still quite popular, especially the much-beloved BBEdit from Bare Bones Software. (And yes, I'm enough of a Web geek that I'm even writing this column in BBEdit 5.0.2.)

The past year, we've also seen incredible growth in tools meant to streamline the way Web graphics are created. For too long, Web designers wrestled endlessly with Photoshop in order to create decent GIFs and JPEGs for their sites. Now not only has Photoshop gotten an attitude adjustment with version 5–hey kids, editable text!–but we have three other excellent Web-only tools: Adobe ImageReady and ImageStyler and Macromedia Fireworks.

" The Evolution of Web Design " continued >>

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