By Rob Ford
640 pages, hardcover, $50
Published by Taschen
From a short list of approximately 2,000 websites, FWA founder Rob Ford has gathered the top 200 breakthroughs into his history of web design, called, simply, Web Design. Starting with computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee’s web browser running on a NeXT computer at CERN in 1990, the 600-plus pages of Web Design take readers on a chronological walk down memory lane, from the first photograph posted online, in 1992, to the first web search engine, in 1993, to the first online pizza delivery service, in 1994, and onward, through 2018 and the rise of the smartphone as the dominant web-viewing device.
Advances come fast and furious. FutureSplash brought animation to the web in 1996 before becoming Macromedia Flash. Designers were quick to take advantage. Gabo Mendoza, Hillman Curtis and Yugo Nakamura led web design, animation and typography into new, more sophisticated dimensions.
Amazingly, some of the earliest efforts, which have come to define the internet—and, by extension, the way we live in the world—are still going strong. Internet Movie Database (1993), Wired.com (1994), Amazon (1995) and Google (1998) are notable examples of the early pioneers who got it right first and continued to evolve. Meanwhile, like a mass extinction, sites, technologies and devices like Napster, GeoCities, the Nokia 7110 (the first mobile phone with a web browser) and Shockwave are long gone. Today, what continues to define the history of the web is creativity and boundary-pushing de ance of technology constraints. —Sam McMillan