Evolution of website building: from hassle to no-code

Evolution of website building: from hassle to no-code
Published on
April 15, 2022

The journey of website builders is awesome. Looking back, we can see how making a website became easier with each new day.

Let’s take a trip back in time!

In this article, we’re going to show you the most popular website makers from the beginning of the internet, and we’ll also show you what website building became today.

This trip is insane. In the 90s, when the internet was the newest thing, people needed to be coders (or get pricyc coder) in order to mark their presence online the right way.

Now, all you need is a computer, 10 seconds, and a few clicks. And really, this is just awesome to see how easy it is to become somebody online.

The most intriguing part about website building is the future — where will it take us? Can making a website be even easier than it is now?

Let's see how things evolved, and then we’ll have to worry about the future.

How making websites got easier (history of website builders)

Creating a website became easier thanks to the advance in technology.

Lots of platforms that favoured website building appeared on the internet, and people managed to set-up easier to use CMS tools that we use up to this date.

Here's a map of website building's progress through time:

  1. The 90s: HTML was the go-to for making websites;
  2. The 2000-2010s: website builders with many plug-ins became the trend;
  3. The 2010s-present: no-code (and no-worry) took over website building.

At the very beginning of websites, you had to know how to code to build your pages.

If you were into website building back then, you most likely would've used HTML before using the first website-making tools.

how website building became easier

In the mid 2000s, you would've probably struggled with adding different plug-ins to make your website's pages quicker, to achieve greater SEO scores, and so on.

In our era, things are pretty easy.

All you have to do now is to open your website building platform, drag and drop your favourite blocks and save the changes. You can now literally build a website in 10 seconds!

Anyways, let’s go further in time, and see how making websites became way easier than ever before.

The beginning of website building (the 1990s)

The first websites that went live on the internet were coded manually, in HTML. This happened way back in the 1990s.

what google was like in 1999
This is a picture of Google in 1999

In 1994, one of the first website builders was released - GeoCities. Comparing it to the present website builders, it was pretty bad. But hey, everything has to start somewhere!

Beginning modern website building: GeoCities

Launched in 1994, GeoCities was an early player in the modern era, where making a website didn't require knowing 100 coding languages.

Though GeoCities was acquired by Yahoo! in 1999, GeoCities was about to be forgotten by the world, and Yahoo! was pretty much forced to shut down its website builder in 2009.

geocities website in 1999
GeoCities in 1999 - amongst the first website builders

In this image above, you can see how GeoCities' website looked like in 1999. Quite a basic HTML page, isn't it?

Well, GeoCities was fun while it lasted. I guess it was ahead of its time, right?

At the same time, companies that later developed their own website builders also started in the 1990s, including names like Homestead (1996) and GoDaddy (1997).

As a fun fact, the first-ever website was released in 1991, and it was a really simple HTML page — you’ve definitely made more complex pages in middle school.

FrontPage and Microsoft - one of the big players arrived

Initially released in 1995, Microsoft Office FrontPage was a WYSIWG HTMl editor and website buidler basically.

Microsoft's tool allowed you to code and then publish websites and pages on the internet.

microsoft frontpage 2003
Image credit goes to Black Joomla

Though, it was not long until FrontPage faded. The app joined the Microsoft Office tools from 1997 to 2003, and the last moments of Microsoft FrontPage were in 2003, until it was replaced by other Microsoft suite apps.

At the end of the day, FrontPage was at the very beginning of website builders, even though it looks just like an app where you type some HTML lines of code.

The skyrocketing of website builders (the 2000s)

Welcome to the 21st century! It’s a new beginning, and we’ve got a lot of website builders ahead of us. Ever since 2003, a whole lot of website builders showed up on the internet.

Since the internet became the new trend and it was already popular in the USA, and pretty much in the whole of Europe, website builders were the thing.

Internet access: checked. How do we make websites now?

In the 2000s, people wanted to make their own websites in order to start online stores or blogs, and they needed assistance with that — website building didn’t use to be for everyone up until this point.

Companies like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and other popular names came in handy with their then-latest website builders.

This way, people got the helping hand they needed.

apple website in 1997
This is what Apple's website look liked in 1997

This image above shows you an example of a 'cleaner' website. We all know how Apple has always been the company with minimalistic and clean design styles, and this is what their website was like in 1997.

You may all know how weird websites used to look in the 2000s compared to the present, right? Websites used to have many colours, different fonts, and basically a lot of mess.

While design used to be a huge deal even back in the day, websites used to look they way they did due to the limitations of technology. 

Thanks to the technological advance, we now see all sorts of unique websites, designed exactly as people want, unlike this being impossible in the past.

Appearance makes the first impression of a product.

For the next 10 years, people started to roll with all of the new website builders, like WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Yola, Jimdo, and many other platforms.

During this time, people also started to care more about what pages looked like, and so, the next step had to be taken. This takes us to the era after 2012.

It’s the 2010s: no-code is becomes a thing now

We made it 10 years further, and now we’ve reached the point where people want two things: building websites easier, and making their websites look beautiful.

Now don't get me wrong, WordPress and mainly all of the 2000's website builders are also no-code, only now things get way easier becuase you don't have to stress a lot with of plug-ins and tens of other tools in order to ge the job done.

You now have a CMs that helps you get through every step. It's basically building a website in the same one tool.

In 2012, Bubble was founded, and one year later, Webflow became a thing as well. These are two names that you might’ve heard of, and they have one common factor: no-code.

webflow website building in 2014
Webflow's front page in 2014

Websites were always a trend, but for them to become accessible to larger audiences, they had to be easier to make. And so, people took coding off the equation.

No-code used to get some hate because people used to dedicate themselves to studying different languages in order to create web pages, but later on, it became a trend.

Now, anybody can start a website without even knowing HTML or CSS. For more on this, have a look into what websites you can make with our website builder.

8 of the best no-code website builders

We’ve curated a list of no-code website builders. If no-code appeals to your taste, have a look at these platforms:

  1. Simple.ink - make websites in Notion for free, and quickly;
  2. Webflow - design and build your website at the same time;
  3. Bubble - create a web-based app in a short time;
  4. Wix - drag and drop features you want to see on your live website;
  5. Squarespace - start your website with a template, without having to code;
  6. Weebly - make online blogs, stores, and more;
  7. Typedream - design and build websites in an easy CMS;
  8. Shopify - easily start a website to sell products online.

Out of all the tools listed above, what’s your favourite no-code website builder?

What's next for website building

At the moment, there are no limits to creating a website. It’s easy, free, fast, and there’s no excuse to not start a business online yourself because you don’t know how to make a website.

Since this used to be the excuse for not creating something online in the past, in the present (and certainly in the future as well), your next website is literally one click away from you.

no-code website builder

This being said, why not try out the Notion website builder? It’s free, and if you like it, the pricing plans are pretty generous. We’d be glad to see you joining us!

17 relevant website builders: old -> new

Here’s a list of the website builders and the year they came out:

  1. GeoCities - 1994
  2. FrontPage - 1995
  3. Homestead - 1996
  4. GoDaddy -1997
  5. WordPress - 2003
  6. Squarespace - 2004
  7. Wix - 2006
  8. Weebly - 2007
  9. Yola - 2007
  10. Jimdo - 2007
  11. Bubble - 2012
  12. Webflow - 2013
  13. Shopify - 2015
  14. Cardd - 2016
  15. Linktree - 2016
  16. Strikingly - 2019
  17. Simple.ink - 2021

If you want to get started with building a website for free (and quickly), we’re kindly inviting you to check out our website builder.

With Simple.ink, creating any type of website is free and it takes about 10 seconds for all of the websites to be generated and to go live on the internet.

Conclusion

Hope you liked reading the history of website builders, and how it became way easier to make a website now, rather than at the beginning of websites, in the 90s.

The journey of the internet itself has been amazing, and automatically, so it was for the website builders.

With each new day at Simple.ink, we’re looking forward to making it easier for people to mark their presence online, as we want to help creators visible on the internet.

If you want to see other cool stories like this, make sure to check out our blog.

Thank you for reading this post!

About the author

Ch David is the co-founder and Simple.ink, and is in charge of the library of Notion tutorials, where lots of of free guides on how to use Notion and Simple.ink are published all the time. Learn how to use Simple.ink and how to get the most out of your Notion-built tools with David and the team.