Web Design History Timeline

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

2003 May 8th

CSS Zen Garden

The Canadian web designer Dave Shea launched a community gallery of websites called CSS Zen Garden. The project offered a simple HTML template to be downloaded, the graphic design of which could be customized by any web designer, but only with the help of cascading styles and one’s own pictures.

The goal of the project was to demonstrate the various possibilities of CSS in creating visual web design. The CSS Zen Garden gallery exhibited hundreds of examples of diverse web design, all based on a single template containing the same HTML code.

CSS Zen Garden website in 2003 – Tranquille theme

2003 May 14th

Jeffrey Zeldman published Designing with Web Standards

Web designer and founder of A List Apart magazine, Jeffrey Zeldman, published a book entitled Designing with Web Standards. In his book, Jeffrey Zeldman explores the benefits of implementing web standards. Using standards correctly allows web designers to create accessible and user-friendly websites that work well in a wide range of browsers.

Jeffrey Zeldman – Designing with Web Standards

2003 May 27th

WordPress 0.7

Web developers Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little created the first version of the open source content management system called WordPress 0.7. The publishing system is based on PHP and MySQL technology and is developed under the GNU GPL free software license. The predecessor of WordPress was the b2/cafelog blogging platform. WordPress is currently the most popular content management system, and more than 30% of websites are using it worldwide.

WordPress 0.7

2003 June 23rd

Safari 1.0

Apple introduced its own web browser, Safari 1.0. The browser uses the WebKit renderer to display website content. Safari 1.0 was initially available for download as a standalone program, but, in October 2003, it became the default Mac OS X 10.3 operating system browser.

Apple.com and Safari 1.0 website in 2003

2003 August 1st


Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe founded the MySpace social network. Its concept was inspired by the then popular social network called Friendster. MySpace popularity skyrocketed, and by February 2004, the network had acquired one million users. Between 2004 and 2010, MySpace was one of the largest social networks worldwide. In April 2008, however, the number of unique monthly users was surpassed by Facebook, and since then the popularity of MySpace has been on a continuous decline.

MySpace website in 2003

2003 September


Joshua Schachter launched Delicious (Del.icio.us), a social bookmarking service for discovering, sharing and storing web bookmarks. One of its important innovations was the option to tag user bookmarks with any number of keywords. The user could also see other users’ bookmarks which contained the same tag. In December 2005, Delicious became part of Yahoo!

Delicious website in 2006

2004 February 10th


Ludicorp launched a photo sharing community website called Flickr. In March 2005, Flickr was bought by Yahoo!. Flickr is a typical representative of Web 2.0, which means that the content of the website is created and shared primarily by the users themselves. Flickr was one of the first community websites which allowed tagging of photographs. In 2015, the number of photos posted on Flickr exceeded 10 billion.

Flickr website in 2004

2004 March 5th

CSS Sprites

In “A List Apart” webzine, Dave Shea published an article entitled “CSS Sprite: Image Slicing’s Kiss of Death.” In the article, the author described a technique called CSS Sprites, the basis of which was to connect several smaller graphic elements into one larger image. The graphic elements are then placed on the website using the background-position feature. Thanks to CSS Sprites, a website loads faster because it only uploads one image, reducing the number of HTTP requests.

CSS Sprites: Image Slicing’s Kiss of Death BY Dave Shea

2004 August 29th


Scalable Inman Flash Replacement (sIFR) was a dynamic, open source web fonts implementation for JavaScript and Adobe Flash developed by Mike Davidson and improved by Mark Wubben. sIFR functioned by embedding fonts in a Flash element that displayed text, which helped fonts specified in CSS and HTML to display as intended.

Mike Davidson: Introducing sIFR: The Healthy Alternative to Browser Text in 2004

2004 November 9th

Mozilla Firefox 1.0

Mozilla Corporation released a multiplatform web browser, Firefox 1.0. Compared with browsers from the Internet Explorer family, Firefox 1.0 was characteristic for its higher security, better web standards support, and a number of plug-ins that could be additionally installed. As a result, Firefox gained major popularity among users and exceeded 1 billion downloads between 2004 and 2009. The name Firefox was allegedly derived from the English translation of the Chinese name for the red panda.

Mozilla Firefox 1.0

2005 February 8th

Google Maps

Google Maps for desktop was designed to provide a simplified solution to “get from point A to point B.” Clicking and dragging a map or following step-by-step navigation directions allowed users to explore locations near and far. Months after its launch, Google shared Google Maps API so that maps could be embedded on websites. In December 2005, Portland, Oregon became the first city to use Google Transit Trip Planner, incorporating public transit options and schedules in Google Maps. By the end of 2007, Google Maps incorporated real-time traffic news, interactive panoramas via Street View, and mobile device compatibility.

Google Maps website in 2005

2005 February 14th


Three former PayPal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, launched the YouTube website for publishing and sharing video files. The first video called “Me at the zoo” was uploaded to YouTube on 23 April, 2005 by one of the co-founders, Jawed Karim. It was a short video from the San Diego zoo. In November 2006, YouTube was purchased by Google for $ 1.65 billion.

YouTube website in 2005

2005 June 23rd


Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian established the Reddit social network. Users on Reddit submit or share content that is then rated by the community. Content is divided into thematic categories called subreddits. The name Reddit is a play on the phrase “I read it”.

Reddit website in 2005

2005 August 10th

Opera Mini

The Norwegian company Opera Software introduced Opera Mini, a web browser for mobile phones with J2ME (Java 2 Mobile Edition) support. The Opera Mini browser could be installed on most mobile phones in common use at the time, including those that could not otherwise run a normal web browser. The uniqueness of Opera Mini lay in the use of Small-Screen Rendering technology, where the requested pages were first data and appearance edited on Opera’s servers and then displayed to the user in the Opera Mini browser only after optimization.

Opera Mini 2.0

2005 August 26th

Million Dollar Homepage

Alex Tew, a British student, launched the Million Dollar Homepage, which soon became an example of successful viral marketing and an Internet phenomenon. The page was a million pixels divided into a 1000×1000 px grid. Alex Tew offered to sell 1 pixel for a dollar, with the smallest advertising space an advertiser could buy for their link being 10×10 px. The Million Dollar Homepage gained unprecedented popularity in a very short time, and the last 1000 pixels were sold on January 1, 2006 at an eBay auction.

Million Dollar Homepage website in 2005

2005 November 14th

Google Analytics

In April 2005, Google took over the Urchin Software Corporation, which was developing a tool for the acquisition of statistical data about website users. In November 2005, Google launched an enhanced version of this tool under the name Google Analytics. Since 2006, the basic version of this service has been available for free. Website owners can track traffic, analyze user behavior, and record conversions. Google Analytics is currently the most widely used web analytics tool.

Google Analytics website in 2005

2005 December 3rd

Adobe purchased Macromedia

Adobe Systems bought its rival company, Macromedia, for $ 3.4 billion. Programs such as ColdFusion, Captivate, Director, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Flex, FreeHand, and HomeSite were added to the Adobe software portfolio.

Adobe purchased Macromedia 2005

2006 January 14th


The software engineer John Resig announced the creation of the jQuery JavaScript library at BarCamp NYC. The jQuery library emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML. jQuery makes it easy for web developers to create recurring events, animations, or manipulate cascading style sheets.

jQuery website in 2006

2006 March 21st


Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone officially launched the social networking and microblogging service Twitter. The social network Twitter allows users to read and send short posts referred to as “tweets”. The length of individual tweets was initially limited to 140 characters. In November 2017, the post limit was doubled to 280 characters.

On 23 August 2007, the first hashtag (#) appeared on Twitter, used by user Chris Messina in a tweet related to the #barcamp conference. Six years after its launch in March 2012, the microblogging service Twitter has reached more than 140 million active users who send 340 million tweets per day.

Twitter early website in 2006

2006 August

Smashing Magazine

Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman created a portal for web designers and developers called Smashing Magazine. The portal provides regular news from the world of web design, user experience, or web development. Smashing Magazine also publishes research publications and organizes regular conferences and workshops. Smashing Magazine is currently the most visited web site for web design and related fields.

Smashing Magazine website in 2006

2006 October 5th

Sass 0.1.0

Hampton Catlin and Natalie Weizenbaum designed a CSS preprocessor called Sass 0.1.0 (Syntactically awesome style sheets). Sass preprocessor is a scripting language interpreted or compiled into cascading styles. To the CSS syntax, Sass adds variables, mixins, selector inheritance, nesting rules, arithmetic operators, and other features.

Sass-lang.com website in 2009

2006 November 14th

Zune Media Player and Flat Design

Microsoft started selling the first model of the Zune handheld multimedia player. The simple and clean design of Zune control features is considered to be one of the first uses of flat design in user interface.

Zune Media Player and Flat Design in 2009

2007 January 9th

Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone

At Macworld Conference & Expo, Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone smartphone model. The phone included the Safari web browser, allowing users to surf the web at ease.

The first iPhone 2007

2007 July 4th


Chris Coyier, a web designer, established the CSS-Tricks portal. The portal brings web designers daily news and tutorials from the world of web design, particularly focusing on cascading styles.

CSS-Tricks website in 2008

2007 August

Behance Network 1.0

Scott Belsky founded the Behance 1.0 community platform, which allows designers, photographers, and artists from different fields to present their creative work in the form of online portfolios. In December 2012, Behance was purchased by Adobe Systems.

Behance Network website in 2008

2007 September 5th

CSS Grid

W3C released the first proposal of the CSS Grid specification. This CSS module defines a set of properties for creating a layout fitted into a regular grid that consists of rows and columns. The CSS Grid makes it easy to create complex and full-page layouts without the need of using cascading style layout methods involving float and positioning. CSS Grid features are currently supported by most major browsers.

CSS Grid working draft 2007

2007 September 5th

Microsoft Silverlight

Microsoft initially introduced Silverlight as an application framework for developing and running rich web applications focused on streaming media. Later versions of Silverlight, often compared to its Flash predecessor, offered tools and CLI support for developers and supported animation and graphics. Silverlight received negative criticism for its Extensible Application Markup Language, and on October 12, 2021, Microsoft ended support for Silverlight on Internet Explorer 11, the only web browser at the time that supported it.

Microsoft Silverlight website in 2008

2008 September 2nd

Google Chrome

Google released the beta version of Google Chrome’s freeware browser for Windows. In December 2008, the first stable version of Google Chrome 1.0 was released. Since January 2009, Chrome has been available for MacOS, and in February 2012, its first beta version for Android 4 was released. At the turn of April and May 2012, Chrome surpassed the popularity of Internet Explorer and became the most widely used web browser. In 2018, Google Chrome had more than 66% of the global market share.

Google Chrome website in 2008

2008 September 15th

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow was created by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky as part of the Stack Exchange Network to serve as a question-and-answer website for programmers. Participation on Stack Overflow was encouraged by a reputation system; users would earn points and badges based on the quality of questions asked and answers given, as determined by user votes. At the end of 2022, Stack Overflow served more than 100 million people each month.

Stack Overflow public beta website in 2008

2008 December 11th

WCAG 2.0

W3C issued official recommendations for a second set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). WCAG 2.0 is divided into 4 basic principles, according to which the content and web control features must be perceptible, operable, understandable and robust enough to work with today’s and future technologies. The basic principles of WCAG 2.0 consist of 12 general rules that are linked to the control criteria for which web content can be tested. There are three levels which refer to the extent to which the content satisfies the requirements: A (lowest), AA, AAA (highest).

WCAG 2.0