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Web 1.0 is the term used to refer to the first stage of development on the World Wide Web that was characterized by simple static websites.
The term Web 1.0 didn’t appear until the term Web 2.0 was coined in 1999 by Darci DiNucci. During that time, the web was undergoing a major transformation. Most websites in the 1990s had originally been built with static HTML pages, and a few simple styles embedded in the HTML markup. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, interactive website features redefined what could be accomplished in a web browser and marked a major point of evolution in the world of web development.
During the stage known as Web 1.0, websites were marked by the following typical Web 1.0 characteristics:
- Static pages: Pages didn’t offer interactive features that changed based on website visitor behavior. At that point websites were largely informational.
- Website content stored in files: Virtually every modern website makes use of a database to store the majority of website content. During Web 1.0 this was not the case and most website content was stored directly in the website files, not in a separate database.
- Combination of content and layout: Good web design practice today dictates the separation of webpage markup and styling. Virtually every modern website makes use of external style sheets to determine the look and layout of webpages. During Web 1.0 most styling was built into the page markup itself, often by misusing HTML elements such as tables.
- Proprietary HTML tags: During Web 1.0 browsers attempted to stand out by offering support for proprietary tags, creating significant incompatibility problems between websites that used these tags and site visitors using unsuported browsers.
- Guestbooks: Website visitor comments were usually added to a Guestbook page rather than attached directly to content pages.
- E-mailing of forms: Web hosting servers during the Web 1.0 phase rarely offered support for server-side scripting, which is required to use the web server to submit a form. As a result, during Web 1.0, when the Submit button was clicked on most forms the website visitor’s e-mail client would launch, and the visitor would have to e-mail their form to an e-mail address provided by the website.
The transition from Web 1.0 to 2.0 took place over time as servers were upgraded, average connection speeds increased, and developers learned new skills and techniques. The transition began in the last year or two of the 1990s and Web 2.0 features had made strong headway by 2006, although there are still vestiges of Web 1.0 with us today in quiet corners of the web.
Frequently Asked Questions
What marked the transition to Web 2.0?
There are a number of factors that marked a departure from Web 1.0 to 2.0 such as user-generated content in the form of comments, the use of databases to store content, growth in the ability of web servers to process server-side scripting languages, and the birth and explosion in growth of social media. To learn more, visit the Web 2.0 entry in our Interactive Glossary.
Why were Guestbooks a popular feature during Web 1.0?
Web 1.0 coincided with a time when dial-up Internet connections were common. Pages with long lists of user comments would take a long time to load over a dial-up connection. A Guestbook was a solution to the desire to allow user comments without bogging down the overall performance of a website. In this way, user comments were allowed, but wouldn’t slow down performance of content pages.
Was blogging popular during Web 1.0?
While personal websites were popular, and there were a few sites that could be characterized as blogs by today’s standards, blogging was not popular or accessible to the average web user during Web 1.0. Blogging depends on in-browser text editing, databases, server-side scripting, and other Web 2.0 features. During Web 1.0, regular website updates required a lot more technical skill than what is required today to run a blog.