Web Design History Timeline

Explore the timeline of milestones in the history of web design from 1990 to the present.

1998 January 22nd

A List Apart

Jeffrey Zeldman and Brian Platz began publishing the mailing list called A List Apart, which provided readers with regular news from the world of web design, web standards, and web development. The project gained popularity among its readers, and within a few months, A List Apart acquired more than 16,000 subscribers. In January 1999, Jeffrey Zeldman started publishing A List Apart as a webzine.

A List Apart website in 1999

1998 February 10th

XML 1.0

W3C published the final recommendation for the XML 1.0 specification. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a general markup language designed to easily exchange information between applications and to publish documents that contain at least partially structured data. XML is a simplified subset of the older SGML language. The XML language does not deal with document layout and consistently separates form and content. For different types of data, XML allows you to create custom markup languages ​​(applications). By combining XML with HTML, the new XHTML markup language was created in 2000.

XML 1.0

1998 March

Design is Kinky

Design is Kinky, founded by Andrew Johnstone, was one of the first design community websites. The website regularly presents graphic works, photographs, expert articles or profiles of artists who have decided to publish their work online. In 2018, the project Design is Kinky terminated its activity.

Design is Kinky website in 2001

1998 March 31st


Netscape Communications Corporation released the source code of the Netscape Communicator 5.0 web browser, which became the beginning of a community-based open source project called Mozilla. In 2003, the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization, was founded on the basis of the original project.

Mozilla.org website in 1998

1998 April

Macromedia Fireworks 1.0

Macromedia released the Macromedia Fireworks 1.0 graphics program. The program was able to work with both vector and bitmap graphics and was designed specially for web designers.

Macromedia Fireworks 1.0 in 1998

1998 May 12th


W3C issued official recommendations for CSS2 specification. The second cascade style specification included a number of new features such as absolute, relative and fixed positioning of elements, z-index for element overlap, minimum and maximum width or height of elements, type of media, etc. In June 2011, W3C published a revision of the second version of cascading styles, CSS 2.1.

CSS2 specification 1998

1998 June 5th


Sun Microsystems developers Rich Skrenta and Bob Truel created a non-commercial, multilingual catalog of websites entitled the Open Directory Project (ODP or DMOZ, based on the original domain, directory.mozilla.org). The content of the catalog was created and maintained by a community of volunteers, and it was one of the largest internet catalogs at the time. The DMOZ project was owned by AOL for most of its duration. The project ended its activity on March 17, 2017.

DMOZ.org website in 1999

1998 July

Adobe ImageReady 1.0

Adobe Systems released Adobe ImageReady 1.0 bitmap graphics editor. The program was designed to work with web graphics and to create rollover effects or short animations in the GIF format. Since version 2.0, ImageReady has been part of Photoshop.

Adobe ImageReady 1.0

1998 September 4th


A pair of Ph.D. students from Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, created the Google search engine. Google originally started as a research project whose aim was to find relevant search results using a mathematical algorithm. The algorithm, later called PageRank, analyzed relationships between individual webpages based on their cross-references, thus assessing their importance. The name Google is a deliberate misspelling of the word googol, which refers to a very high number – 1 followed by a hundred zeros (10100).

Google in November 1998

1998 October


Two Danish web designers, Michael Schmidt and Toke Nygaard, launched a community website for designers, called Kaliber10000 (K10k). The K10k webzine published graphical works of talented designers on a regular basis and became an important source of inspiration for the first generation of designers who started using the web as a visual medium. In October 2011, K10k terminated its activity.

K10k website in 2003

1998 October

Box Acid Test

Todd Fahrner began working on the Box Acid Test (Acid1) project, which tested if web browsers supported the CSS language. The test itself is a simple web page that contains several HTML elements modified by CSS. The browser either displays the page correctly and passes the test or it fails. Most of the browsers of the time failed the Acid1 test. In January 1999, the Box Acid Test was included in the W3C’s official CSS1 set of tests.

Box Acid Test

1999 March


Favicon (a combination of the words favorite and icon) first appeared in Internet Explorer 5.0. The term favicon refers to a webpage icon that appeared in older browsers in the address bar next to the URL or in favorites. Originally, favicon had to be placed in the root directory of the website under the name favicon.ico, and its dimensions were typically 16×16 px or 32×32 px. In December 1999, favicon was standardized by W3C in the recommendation for HTML 4.01.

W3C – How to Add a Favicon to your Site

1999 March 18th

Internet Explorer 5.0

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 5.0. The browser was integrated into the Windows 98 SE operating system, and version 5.01 was part of Windows 2000. In July 2000, Internet Explorer 5.5 was released, integrated into Windows ME. Internet Explorer 5.0 was also tied to Microsoft Office 2000. At the beginning of 2000, the fifth version of Internet Explorer had more than 50% market share. Internet Explorer 5.0 thus became one of the key participants in the first browser war.

Internet Explorer 5.0

1999 April

Web 2.0

Darcy DiNucci published an article entitled “Fragmented Future” in the Print magazine, in which the term Web 2.0 was first introduced. The term refers to the development phase of the Web in which the content of websites is created and shared primarily by the users themselves. Typical Web 2.0 examples include social networking sites, web forums, internet encyclopedias, or photo/video sharing portals. In 2004, Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty held the first Web 2.0 conference, during which the term Web 2.0 was brought to the attention of a wider public.

Fragmented Future by Darcy DiNucci – Web 2.0

1999 May 5th

WCAG 1.0

W3C, in co-operation with the WAI initiative, issued the first recommendation for a set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0). The WCAG 1.0 consists of 14 general rules that represent the basic principles of accessibility. In addition to these rules, WCAG 1.0 also includes checkpoints that explain given problems. Each checkpoint is assigned a priority on the following scale: the highest (priority 1), medium (priority 2) or lower (priority 3).

WCAG 1.0

1999 June

Adobe Photoshop 5.5

Adobe Systems launched Adobe Photoshop 5.5. The new version of Photoshop included the Adobe ImageReady 2.0 program designed to work with web graphics. Another new feature of Adobe Photoshop 5.5 was Save for Web, which allowed designers to compress images for the web.

Adobe Photoshop 5.5

1999 August 23rd


Pyra Labs launched one of the oldest blogging tools at Blogger.com. The new blogging platform gained a large community of users in the subsequent years. In February 2003, Blogger.com was bought by Google.

Blogger.com website in 1999

1999 November

2Advanced Studios

Eric Jordan, Tony Novak and John Carrol founded a digital creative agency called 2Advanced Studios. The agency was renowned for its innovative, high-end design using Flash technology. In the field of web design, the 2Advanced Studio received many prestigious awards.

2Advanced Studios v1 flash website in 2000

1999 November


The Zombo.com website was created as a parody of the creative, but, from the user’s perspective, largely pointless flash intros, which were trending at the end of the 1990s. Zombo.com is a simple, several-minute flash intro constantly repeating the words: “Welcome… to ZomboCom. This… is… ZomboCom. Welcome. This is ZomboCom; welcome… to ZomboCom.” The website had gained considerable popularity over the years and had become one of the most popular internet memes in its time.

Zombo.com flash website in 1999

1999 December

Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

Jakob Nielsen, an expert in web design and web usability, published Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity. The book became one of the basic handbooks in the field of web usability and the emerging field of user experience design (UX). In 1998, Jakob Nielsen and Donald Norman founded the Nielsen Norman Group, which engages in research, consulting and education in the field of user experience and computer interface design.

Jakob Nielsen – Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

2000 January 26th


W3C issued official recommendations for the XHTML 1.0 specification. The Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) is a markup language for creating hypertext documents in an Internet environment. XHTML originated from an integration of XML and HTML and was divided into three versions: Strict, Transitional, and Frameset. According to W3C’s original plans, XHTML was supposed to be the successor to HTML, whose development was completed by version 4.01. However, in 2007, a new version of HTML started being developed, labeled HTML5.

XHTML 1.0 recommendation 2000

2000 May 5th


Rob Ford established the Favorite Website Awards (The FWA). The FWA website was originally conceived as a prestigious gallery of unique and innovative websites in terms of design created with Macromedia Flash. Due to a decline of the Flash technology, it is now possible to submit websites, mobile applications, or any creative projects regardless of the technology used. A panel of experts selects from nominated websites the winners in the categories FWA of the day, FWA of the month and FWA of the year.

The FWA website in 2000

2000 May 22nd

PHP 4.0 and Zend Engine

A pair of Israeli programmers, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans, completely rewrote the interpreter used in PHP and created version PHP 4.0.

PHP 4.0 is based on an open source scripting engine called Zend Engine. The name Zend is a composite of its creators’ names Zeev and Andi. The Zend Engine is written as a highly optimized and powerful backend that can also be used outside PHP applications.

Zend.com website in 2000

2000 August 7th


Scott Jarkoff, Matthew Stephens and Angelo Sotira founded an art community portal called DeviantArt. In its beginnings, the portal brought together enthusiasts who modified the design of their computer programs and applications. At present, DeviantArt is the largest social networking site for artists and art enthusiasts.

DeviantArt website in 2000

2000 August 24th

Macromedia Flash 5.0 and ActionScript 1.0

Macromedia launched the Macromedia Flash 5.0 multimedia software. It was the first version in which ActionScript 1.0 object-oriented programming language was fully implemented. Older versions of Macromedia Flash contained only sets of very simple programming commands. Thanks to ActionScript 1.0, users could create complex web applications or more complicated animations. ActionScript is based on a standardized JavaScript version called ECMAScript.

Macromedia Flash 5.0 and ActionScript 1.0

2000 October

Requiem for a Dream

Hi-ReS!, a London-based digital agency, designed a website for Darren Aronofsky’s film, Requiem for a Dream. Hi-ReS! used Flash technology to design the website in a fresh and creative way to provide a strong artistic and visual experience for its visitors.

Requiem for a Dream flash website in 2000

2000 October 13th

Steve Krug published a book Don’t Make Me Think

Steve Krug, a UX designer and information architect, published Don’t Make Me Think. The book deals with web usability and the interdisciplinary field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). In his publication, Steve Krug develops the idea that a well-designed computer program or website should allow users to perform their intended tasks in the simplest way possible, without having to think hard about how to perform them.

Steve Krug – Don't Make Me Think

2001 January 15th


Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger founded Wikipedia, a multilingual internet encyclopedia. The content of the encyclopedia is shared under a free and open license of the Creative Commons. Volunteer contributors from around the world participate in the creation of Wikipedia entries. Wikipedia’s precursor was the Nupedia web encyclopedia, to which, unlike Wikipedia, only experts were allowed to contribute. At the beginning of 2023, Wikipedia contained articles written in 331 languages.

Wikipedia website in 2001

2001 March


Photographer Jason Aber and illustrator Richard May started publishing the online magazine called Pixelsurgeon. The magazine website provided fans with regular news, interviews and tips on interesting sources from the world of design with a focus on the Internet. In November 2007, Pixelsurgeon ended its activities due to a lack of time.

Pixelsurgeon website in 2001

2001 April 4th

Media Queries

The W3C consortium released the first draft of the Media Queries specification. The original idea for the Media Queries module appeared in the first draft of the CSS specification by Norwegian programmer Håkon Wium Lie in October 1994. However, this proposal did not become part of CSS1.

The CSS3 Media Queries module allows web developers to adjust the rendering of web page content according to various factors such as screen resolution. Currently, Media Queries are one of the basic techniques used in responsive web design.

Media Queries working draft 2001

2001 August 27th

Internet Explorer 6.0

Less than two months before the official release of the Windows XP operating system, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 6.0. IE 6 was integrated into Windows XP and was also compatible with previous versions of the system down to Windows 98. Despite a significant amount of security flaws and lack of support for web standards, Internet Explorer 6.0 gained more than 80% market share in 2004. Together with earlier versions of IE 5.0 and IE 5.5, the proportion of Internet Explorer browsers in 2004 was more than 90%.

Internet Explorer 6.0

2001 September 4th

SVG 1.0

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a graphical vector file format based on the XML markup language. SVG has become the basic open format for vector graphics on web pages. The SVG format has been developed since 1998 by W3C and is currently fully supported by all major browsers.

SVG 1.0 specification 2001

2001 October 24th

Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive organization launched a free digital archive of websites for the general public called the Wayback Machine. The oldest pages stored in the archive date back to 1996. In October 2023, the Wayback Machine maintained more than 846 billion versions of websites from various time intervals.

Wayback Machine website in 2001

2001 December

Audi.com, the first partially “responsive” website

The website designed for Audi by the Razorfish digital agency was one of the first to modify its content based on the size of the web browser window. Audi.com was “optimized” for 640×480 px, 800×600 px and 1024×768 px. However, Audi.com was not a classic example of responsive web design as we know it today, but rather a dynamic customization of design using JavaScript, based on a detection of browser resolution.

Audi.com, the first partially “responsive” website in 2001

2002 April

Box Model Hack

The American-Turkish developer Tantek Çelik came up with a solution called Box Model Hack while working on Internet Explorer 5 for Mac. The application of this hack makes it possible to change the DOCTYPE declaration, which allows web developers to define which CSS Box Model will be used in Internet Explorer.

Box Model Hack

2002 June 5th

Mozilla 1.0

Mozilla (also known as Mozilla.org) released the Mozilla 1.0 web browser. The basis for Mozilla 1.0 was Gecko, an open source rendering engine which significantly improved the support of web standards.

Mozilla 1.0

2002 September

RSS 2.0

The technology known as RSS (Rich Site Summary or more often also Really Simple Syndication) belongs to the family of XML formats. The technology is designed to read content and news on websites or, in general, to syndicate content. The beginnings of the RSS format date back to 1999 when Netscape developed the first version of RSS 0.9. In 2002, UserLand Software released RSS 2.0.

RSS 2.0 specification 2002