Imagine it…a desolate world, a world without color or music – a world where everything looks like the Drudge Report. This, my friends, is a world without web designers. Since the World Wide Web was developed in the early 1990’s, it has undergone quite a few changes, both functionally and superficially and web designers have been behind it all. The concept of a “web designer” is actually a fairly broad idea used to encompass quite a few roles in the development of websites.
Web designers have been behind every single update and advancement of the web and to imagine a world where they never existed is to imagine a world much different from our own. In fact, all designers have in one way or another contributed to the evolution of web design.
Now, if you will ladies and gentlemen, let’s go on a ride to…THE WORLD WITHOUT WEB DESIGNERS! Cue the dramatic music.
Image credit: Bigstockphoto
Before we venture into the unknown, one must truly understand where the internet came from and how web design changed it forever. As most technology enthusiasts know, the internet was the result of a project by Tim Berners-Lee, or the original web designer, or perhaps web developer. The main difference between developers and designers is one of function over form. Designers generally focus of the visual aspect of the web and developers deal with functionality, i.e. applications.
In the beginning, web developers and designers were one, and although their roles overlap fairly often today, it’s safe to say that web designers are in the superior profession. Back to the subject at hand: Berners-Lee wrote the original code for the World Wide Web while working at the famous European physics research facility CERN and it was meant to be a system in which academics could share information and research instantly.
Berners-Lee’s first website was groundbreaking and his creation would eventually become a haven for not only academics, but also socially dysfunctional sociopaths.
Over time, more and more components and languages were developed allowing for search engines to be created, as well as embedded graphics and sounds to grace our computer screens and bring us infinite joy. The first internet browser, Mosaic, gave rise to the now archaic Netscape Navigator and the memories of a rocket (meteor?) forever orbiting a giant “N” while a 56kb connection struggles to download a one megabyte file. Ahhh, to be young again…
As the internet became clogged with information, the need for the ability to archive and search these sites became a necessity, and the search engine was born. There were many rudimentary search engines, including a few named after Archie Comics characters, but the first true search engine, as we would see it today, was WebCrawler which was released in 1994. After it set the standard, a slew of others came about and eventually Google would put them all out of their misery and subsequently evaporate the “dotcom” millions reaped by Yahoo! Investors.
Now that you understand where web design began, let us finally explore the world without web designers…
Ye Gads! This World Sucks!
A world without web designers is a world without the internet. It may be a shocking revelation, but it is nonetheless true. Web designers are exactly that and without someone around to design this little playground we all love, it would have never existed. A world without the internet? Now that is so radically different, we’re going to have to step into the world of 1990…
The Year 1990
During the Persian Gulf War, current US President George H.W. Bush lamented that he was receiving more information about the war from the newly created CNN than the actual military. Can anyone possibly fathom that now? That cable news was more up to date than the United States intelligence community? It’s insane to think about, but without the internet, crazier things were happening. States struggled to pass information along to each other and criminals with warrants oftentimes slipped right through law enforcement’s fingers as they usually had only descriptions or photos that a neighboring agency faxed to them. Yes, that’s right, they used FAX MACHINES. Dear God, can we end this now? My 21st century brain is hurting.
Image credit: Bigstockphoto
There was no chat, no Facebook, no Twitter, no smartphones and most of all, no internet pornography. People had to contact each other using landlines and pagers and because of this rudimentary system of communication, payphones were common sights, as was Carrot Top urging you to make a collect call before he got hooked on steroids.
Some of you out there may be wondering: “What exactly does phone technology have to do with the internet?” Everything, obviously. Other than the fact that computers originally used telephone lines and modems to connect to the World Wide Web, the rise of the smartphone is explicitly linked to the progression of the internet. If the internet and wireless data were never developed, smartphones would be utterly unnecessary as there would be no e-mail, no SportsCenter apps, and definitely no Instagram!
Image credit: Bigstockphoto
What Would We Have?
As I list all the things that would be drastically different without the internet, I have started to wonder if there are any things that would still be the same, and it really seems unlikely. Perhaps Bocce would stay the same, but other than that, almost everything in the world has been impacted by the rise of the internet. Even camping, which seems like an activity completely devoid of the World Wide Web, has been revolutionized as now campers can research trails and weather conditions online, as well as order tents and other equipment from their favorite retailer.
Nothing has remained untouched. To put it simply – like it or not, the internet has absorbed you like the Matrix and will not let go until you die. And even then, probably not (the pictures of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s lifeless body prove that point – Warning: This link includes graphic images).
To take a serious tone for a brief moment, the mere idea of a world without web design and designers absolutely solidifies their necessity. While some see web design as a merely decorative art, those people not only fail to understand the role of web designers in the world, but also the fundamental workings of the modern world. How the web functions determines if your flight is on time, if your paycheck gets deposited into your bank account, if Anthony Wiener’s nudies make it out onto twitter and many other vital processes. From the development of HTML to the release of new open-source web browsers, web design is central to every single human being’s existence whether or not they use the internet directly.
Some technophobes may argue that the internet has destroyed personal connections and healthy relationships, but very similar hesitations were articulated by previous generations in response to the telephone, and then again with in-room phone lines. In all honesty, despite whatever criticisms one may have, the internet has allowed the majority of Earth’s population to have the entire cumulative knowledge of all humanity at their fingertips and I would have to see that as revolutionary and perhaps one of the most, if not the most significant event in human history aside from the original moment of sentient thought. Now, take a moment, find a web designer, and thank them for your modern conveniences and grovel for their approval.
What exactly are you groveling for? Videos of funny animals, for one. Well, what would you do with all your spare time if there were no internet?
If you are a web designer, what is your greatest contribution to the internet so far?