When Web Development Starts to Take Into Account the User

Up until a few years ago, web development was gone about in a utilitarian kind of way. Something needed to get done, and a quick and logical solution was found for it. Technologies such as cgi, asp, ajax all came about to give answers to difficult questions such as how to create dynamic pages. Php eventually won out by being the most efficient and easy-to-learn language along with MySql databases. With great support and free software, these were the best web development solutions out there for the common user.

It is that common user that made this evolution happen. When people who were not trained in web design started making their own websites, then finally the most accessible web development technologies became commonplace. But still, web development was not being done in a way that was turned toward the user. It was done in a functional way that solved any issues that arose, but did not ultimately help the user get around a site or ever find the website. That is when the push for css-based design and url re-write mods came to be.

One of the heroes of this movement in my mind is Dave Shea. He pushed for standards in web development and for the use of CSS-based designs that minimized the amount of html and improved the versatility of websites and made universal access and compatibility a must. By keeping the user in mind, designs became more artistic and creative. Javascript and Flash often get in the way of a good web experience for many users and CSS takes care of that partially by creating desired effects without having to use these two programs. Of course, there are always limitless possibilities with Flash design, but in terms of usability, it is inferior to CSS.

The push for Search Engine Optimization has also pushed web developers to make websites with easy to remember url’s and well organized content that makes sense to users and search engines. Google’s algorithm becomes smarter and requires that page content be readable to humans and not just robots. Good use of headers and semantic page content as opposed to spam-dexing has become more commonplace. Web development has helped with this by generating attractive url’s and, through css, has done image replacement for header tags for design purposes.