How Website Builders Have Impacted The Industry
Websites in general have come a long way from their humble beginnings in the 1991 (Take a look at the first ever website here). It’s crazy to think that the millions of websites we access on a daily basis today (2018) where non-existent a mere 27 years ago. In April 1993 CERN released the software that created the first website into the public domain, anyone could use or build upon the software without charge. This turned out to be an instrumental factor that sparked the exponential growth we see today.
The popularisation of web brought about it commercial interest and with this people started asking more of the existing software and the goal post kept shifting.
THE DREAMWEAVER ERA
The first version of a website builder, or software that assisted in the process was Dreamweaver. Designed and created in 1997 by Macromedia (Later acquired by Adobe Systems). Dreamweaver was the first attempt at making a website builder to produce websites and was welcomed into the industry as most websites in the 90’s where entirely manually written in HTML, a cumbersome and slow process. Dreamweaver went on to dominate the web developers repository of tools. It’s features included a visual WYSIWYG editor, drag/drop tools, support for tables and frames as well as easy selections of fonts/colors and inline image uploads. What really sold the website builder though was the fact you could go back and forth between the code and visual editor and it wouldn’t degrade your code, strip out tags or HTML like most software available at the time.
THE TURNING POINT
Around the launch of Dreamweaver 4 in the year 2000, the landscape started changing. Dreamweaver was becoming less effective as the industry was placing more emphasis on W3C standards. In addition to this the industry had some tech giants moving in, pushing the boundaries of what could be done. Server-side languages, modern browsers, advanced HTML support as well as the brand new styling language called CSS quickly replaced table-based layouts of old. Dreamweaver 4’s server-side support was non-existent, and CSS didn’t work at all. Since then Dreamweaver has recovered and its extensions and new versions have kept it alive, however most would agree it isn’t what it once was…
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (WORDPRESS)
Disclaimer: While we understand there are other CMS platforms out there, our experience has been predominantly working with Custom or Theme Built WordPress websites.
In May 2003 the first version of WordPress made its way into the industry. Initially launched as a blogging platform, it provided its users with a brand-new admin interface, templates and an XHTML 1.1 complaint environment. Given the platform was open-source and allowed the industry to experiment and develop on it for free, it was a very well received website builder at the time.
A year later version 1.2 introduced plugin architecture which enabled developers to extend the WordPress functionality by writing their own plugins. The current market leading blogging tool Moveable Type announced new licensing terms which was not well received within the industry. Subsequently the migration across to WordPress 1.2 skyrocketed. The increased number of users meant the development community grew exponentially.
By 2005 version 1.5 of WordPress introduced Pages, Comment Moderation and more importantly a new Theme System. The years that followed saw the platform evolve exponentially. By 2010 features such as custom post types, better custom taxonomies, custom backgrounds, header, menus, contextual help on admin screens where introduced. It became a multisite network which started the tradition of a new theme for every year and was cementing itself as one of the best Content Management Systems available.
Today WordPress accounts for approximately 31% of websites published on the internet. With millions of development firms feeding into the platform through a plethora of Premium Themes and Plugins. The ease of use empowers even the most tech-averse individual to complete simple things such as updating your website content, creating a blog post for your followers or replacing some imagery with no coding knowledge required.
Looking forward into the future we are seeing another shift in the industry as tech companies are slowly consolidating their platforms and systems further. Doing away with any excess and striving to think for tomorrow, while continuing to deliver today. Aside from our custom built websites, we are currently playing with some interesting modules such as Oxygen 2.0. A self-proclaimed complete visual website builder that only adds what you need, doing without the excess often found in traditional WordPress Premium Themes.
We encourage any prospective users dabbling in the creation of websites to do the research on the various platforms discussed in this article as it will empower them to make better decisions. Whether you consult with professional website development firms or experiment with building your own website.
The information is out there, empower yourself and get informed!