Advances in technology over the years have brought about a phenomenon caused by the fusion of computers and art. The commercial and entertainment industries have been transformed and overtaken by the vast use and demand for computer art. From web design and layout to special effects and animation, the use of computers for art and the skills needed to produce such things are in high demand. Currently one of the most popular uses of computer art is through web design for the Internet. Whether it is for personal use, non-profit organizations, government programs, or commercial use, Web pages are popping up everywhere. So to best understand this development in computer art, especially in Web design, it is important to know exactly what art is, the benefits of Web design, and the history of how art and the internet have come together. With the progressions in technology and art and the high demands thereof it can be expected to only increase in popularity.
Now, if you ask anyone what art is you are sure to get a different answer every time. Art is different things to all people. Some traditionalist scoff at the use of technology for art, while others insist it is the only way, and then there are those who believe everything in itself is a work of art. The saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” can be applied to art as well. For the sake of a definition though, Webster’s Dictionary defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” With an idea as to what might be considered art, look at it through the eyes of technology.
Computer art can pretty much be defined the same as you would define any form of art. The only difference is the method in which it is produced, and it this case the medium obviously being the computer. Thousands of computer software programs exist to help create graphic images, animation, layout, web pages, and 3D images, such as: Photoshop, Fireworks, Lightwave, Director, Freehand, Quark Express, Inspire 3D and Illustrator. Currently two of the most popular software for creating Web pages are Flash and Dreamweaver, which help save time and reduce the need of having an extended knowledge of HTML.
Programming languages such as HTML (hypertext markup language) are what make up a Web page. Traditionally Web pages were always made by written code. However, today that is not the case. Software programs enable the user to create Web pages with the click of a button, with very little knowledge of programming, if any. For the more advanced programmers the same is true, but these software programs also allow them to work side by side with the HTML code to customize or add to the given source. With all this talk of programming and code, it’s only common sense to question where the artistic side comes in to play.
As mentioned before, Web pages are used by and for everyone with a universal purpose, to provide information. The Internet has made access to information a fast and quick process, but what exactly makes a good Web page? First and foremost it is important to focus on the graphic design basics such as color, layout, typography and HTML technology. Second, it is important to study the insights of leading graphic designers working outside the context of the Web to give you a framework for what constitutes “good design” in general. Successful Websites come from a dedication to design shaped around content. If the layout and design does not aid the information being presented it is pointless. So there are many things to be careful about when making a Web page, because if it is not artistically made, viewers may not want to read it; if the layout does not represent the content, it takes away from the message. For this reason, Web designers who truly know what they are doing are much desired by businesses and corporations to design their Websites.
Salaries for Web designers can vary greatly, depending on your experience, your skills, and what exactly you would be doing. Plus, there are several titles and position dealing with the Web and Web design such as Site Builder, Designer, Executive Assistant, Site Manager, Senior Technical Consultant, Project Manager, Creative Director, Strategist, VP, and CEO. Designers on the average make around $45,500 while when you work your way to the top of the ladder; the VP and CEO make around $135,800 to $158,000. So there is definitely a lot of money to be made in the field of web design, but how did the Internet get to where it is today?
The history of the Internet has been relatively brief. In the1960’s an experiment was conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense that can be pin pointed as a place of origin for the Internet. The purpose of this experiment by the Department of Defense was to safeguard information in the event of a disaster or nuclear war through the networking of computers. It was necessary to have a way of protecting the network so that the system could still operate if part of the network were damaged. The answer that the Department of Defense came up with was the network known as ARPANET. This network made it possible for U.S. scientific and academic researchers to be linked together. The use of ARAPANET was the forerunner for today’s Internet.
The National Science Foundation, called NSFNET, created a series of networks for education, communication, and research in 1985. It created a national backbone service provided free to any U.S. research and educational institution based on ARPANET protocols. During this time, regional networks were being created to link individual institutions with the national backbone service. As more and more people learned about NSFNET it began to grow very rapidly. Soon, new software applications started popping up to help make access easier for everyone. Other corporations started to form their own networks to link up with NSFNET, such as Sprint and MCI. Since then, commercial firms and other regional network providers have taken over the operation of the major Internet arteries. And that brings us up to where we are today with the rapid use and development of the Internet.
Surfing the Web was not an easy task with the earlier platforms and browsers. The fact that the layout and design was so simplistic, mainly a gray background with black text did not make the Internet very user friendly. Today though, with bright and colorful WebPages, easy accessibility and navigation makes it possible for anyone to use the Internet. And a lot of the credit should go to the artist and programmers who have made Websites what they are today.
The rapid growth and history of the Internet is sure to only continue and progress with time. Possible things to expect are quicker connections, a wider availability and affordability in other countries, the ability to do things on the internet that might seem unconceivable at this point, for example no one would have ever thought you could buy groceries over the Internet, but now it is possible. However, things such as these do not lie in the hands of the web designer, rather it is the programmers and people behind the scene.
Art is a part of everyday life; it surrounds us everywhere we go. The combining of art with everyday objects and things heightens not only our appreciation, but our demand for them as well. This has been made obvious through the use of art and computers together, specifically on the Internet with Web pages. When surfing the Web from now on, pay attention to how many decisions are made based on appearances and special effects, then try to imagine the Web without them. The use of the Internet is going to continue to grow and develop with everyday that passes, and the use of artistic ability will be there every step of the way.