The World Wide Web: A New Medium for Design

Here I discuss the development of graphic design on the Internet, the problems associated with designing for this medium and some of the solutions. I will show how new technologies used in the creation of websites have solved many of these problems, but also demonstrate with examples of well designed websites, as well as those inconsiderate to the medium, how these solutions have brought forward issues about usability and technology informing design.

MTV, Radiohead and logos

In order to fully research this topic, I have used books found on the subject in the college library, as well as industry magazines and articles on reputable Internet sites. These were BBC News Online, and usability expert Jakob Nielsen's own site devoted to usability '', having quoted him within the text from an interview with him on this topic found in one of the aforementioned magazines. I also visited sites mentioned in the text to get a first hand feel for them, and these were, and during June 2001. It should be noted that these sites have changed considerably since then, so these links point to archived versions


The World Wide Web (or 'web' for short) has been in existence for just over ten years now, but it has only really become apparent as a medium for design during the last four years or so.

In its early existence the web, and the language used to layout individual pages, HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language) was very much designed as a means of linking and displaying large amounts of mainly text based information. Layout and design was a minor concern during the early years of its use with emphasis put firmly on user-customisation with the ability to alter the size and colour of text and links.

In terms of design, most web pages of the time were grey with black text and blue links. Typography was also very poor with the fonts used depending on those again defined by the user. Other typographical elements such as line length line spacing, kerning and tracking and the ability to control them was also non-existent.

The World Wide Web:
A New Medium for Design

Resulting essay from a Design Discourse assignment, that was submitted in June 2001

Further Information (Archived 2001) today (Archived 2001) today (Archived 2001) today
Web Interface useability advice from Jakob Nielsen