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Web Content: An Origin Story

The World Wide Web started in the mid-90s. At the onset, the most basic structure of websites was based on an HTML code. The first websites were dry and nothing like what we have today.

There were no videos or images and definitely no Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Over the past 30 years, web design has grown exponentially with creativity being its only limitation.

During the early phase of developing web content, web developers all worked in unison and had good control of where to position the key information. Web pages back then used to be simple, static pages, with large bold headlines and a short paragraph. Clearly, the focus was not on the quality of content but on merely communicating the primary message.

Highway of Information

But this was just the beginning and this ‘highway of information’ would soon change the face of web content and web marketing.

Over the next few years, grids were developed which allowed for better positioning of information. The ability to incorporate graphics into the content was soon introduced.  By the end of the century, developers started to become more and more creative, and there was a growth explosion in digital technology and software programs.

By the late 1990s, CSS had been introduced that allowed developers to separate content from style. This advancement permitted developers to style multiple elements in one sitting. Soon, large bulky computers were replaced with thinner and slimmer models, and computer programs made it easy to develop presentations on a website.

Concept image by GezaIII via Bigstock

Content Moving In

The look and feel of web content saw a complete revival but even then, in the initial stages, content still lacked the quality and authenticity that was required. The focus still remained on web designing. Websites took the world by storm, and every company just had to have a website, no matter how thin or how unreliable the content.

But soon, marketers began to realize the power of content and realized the importance of separating web content from the design elements. This really helped improve the layout of web pages and also allowed marketers to focus on content.

When Google came into the picture, things began to change at a dramatic pace. People found the perfect platform to search for information. And as more people began to rely on Google, Google began to pressurize content marketers to improve their game. They wanted to make sure that when people used their search engine, they found the information they were looking for.

Google Changes the Game

The days of one tagline and a 50-word paragraph were over. If you wanted to rank well on Google, you were required to have something important to say. Minimal word counts became necessary if you ever wanted to show up in search results and metadata information and use of visuals and images became a necessity if you wanted to enhance the quality of web content, Google forced marketers to do better. Faster page download times also became important, and suddenly people realized that response speed was important.

In the early part of 2000, web designs significantly improved and 3-Dimensional trends started to dominate. Gloss was-in and the dull static colors of the past were gone. Multimedia was now on the horizon with YouTube leading the way. Google became the premier search engine. Some would even consider it the ‘Holy Grail’ of cyberspace.

The Advent of Content as We Know It

Modern design trends started to include videos with background headers. Web content started to expand, and almost every business started to develop their own web pages. Now the consumer was the focus. By the end of 2010, the single preoccupation of web developers and marketers was not only to make attractive and seductive websites but to use content to retain the consumer for more than a few seconds. With millions of web pages and enormous content, the consumer now had more options. The world of the internet had changed their lives – fast.

Then came social media and the world of web content saw another revolution. With platforms like Facebook attracting over 2 billion users a month, marketers knew that if they wanted to be successful, they had to be on social media. And being on social media did not simply mean creating a Facebook page and putting up a business logo and address. You had to engage with your audience, and you needed web content to do so.

 

Quality Above All Else

Web page enhancements and social media became even more central to everything with the explosion in growth in digital devices and smartphones.  Web developers had to make their web pages responsive to these devices since more than 70% of the global  population has a digital device and most can’t sleep without their smartphone.

Web content has thus evolved from being a space filler to becoming the most integral element of a marketing campaign. The next few years will see more modern design trends including video background headers, modular layouts and flat designs as developers continue to focus on improving the user experience. Modern day web development is nothing without high-quality content, and if there is one constant that can be expected in the world of online marketing, it is the importance of web content.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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