Anna Debenham on how web design has changed the world

I can go out and not worry about getting lost, because I can bring up a map wherever I am. It’s so great that governments are moving a lot of what they do to the web and making their processes more open, but I’d like to see it be done in a way that more people can contribute. It’s turned the web from something that was restricted to a desktop screen to something we can carry round in our pockets. Sites like GitHub are great tools for contribution, but they’re restricted to technologists. Even Wikipedia is intimidating for non-techies to contribute to. She is a technical editor for A List Apart, co-producer of 24 ways, and was net magazine’s Young Developer of the Year in 2013. The introduction of faster mobile networks and affordable data plans has had a huge impact on the reach of the web. As part of net magazine’s 20th birthday celebrations, we’ve been asking the great and the good for their thoughts on the last two decades in web design. We also still have a long way to go in terms of delivering internet access worldwide, and that’s a massive problem. To be truly collaborative, we need to make these tools much easier to use for the general public. And when I hear people with disabilities talk about what the web has enabled for them, it’s truly incredible. What have been the landmark changes for you over the last 20 years? I can do my work from wherever I choose. Page weight is creeping up every year, and I think we’ve forgotten a lot of optimisation skills that are actually just as relevant today as they were then. Last year she wrote a book about front-end style guides, and when she’s not playing on them, she’s busy testing the browsers in game consoles. I can study for a degree without setting foot in a university campus. It didn’t do a lot but it was always a very special treat to be allowed to use it. Independence. Anna Debenham is a freelance front-end developer based in Brighton UK. Has it all been improvements, or is there anything we’ve lost along the way? In 20 years, I hope that everyone will have access to an internet connection. I was four, so probably still shoving Lego bricks up my nose. We need to find more ways to give people that access so they’re not cut off from developing. I can even have a conversation (albeit not a very intelligable one) with someone in a language I don’t speak a word of.

Updated: 06.11.2014 — 15:46