This post was previously on the Pathfinder Software site. Pathfinder Software changed its name to Orthogonal in 2016. Read more.

It was Tim Berners Lee’s original vision of the web that online documents be both readable and writable. He notes in his book “Weaving the Web” that he was disappointed with the way the browser was initially developed as a read only technology, making it expensive and onerous for the masses to publish online content, and essentially creating a top down system, with lots and lots of readers but few writers.

Only recently has the technology that allows anyone to easily publish and edit online documents, in the form of Wiki’s and Blogs, been developed. These tools have become so popular, so ubiquitous precisely because they cater to what users really want, fulfilling the potential that the web’s founding father had envisioned for it almost 20 years ago.And so given users obvious preferences for updated relevant content on the web, the ability to provide feedback to the wider community and the technology to allow web sites to provide all of this, I suppose that it’s only a matter of time before all web sites are blogs or wikis, and the three terms become synonymous. The blogging and Wiki tools available today provide enough functionality and flexibility, are easy enough to implement, and give site owners so much advantage over traditional, mostly static web sites, that I don’t see why any web solution couldn’t or shouldn’t be delivered as a Blog or Wiki.

And so given users obvious preferences for updated relevant content on the web, the ability to provide feedback to the wider community and the technology to allow web sites to provide all of this, I suppose that it’s only a matter of time before all web sites are blogs or wikis, and the three terms become synonymous. The blogging and Wiki tools available today provide enough functionality and flexibility, are easy enough to implement, and give site owners so much advantage over traditional, mostly static web sites, that I don’t see why any web solution couldn’t or shouldn’t be delivered as a Blog or Wiki.

Web design/development tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver, with their powerful but complex tools, and their steep learning curves, are designed to work with the traditional notion of the browser as a dumb viewport. As wikis and blogs–as well as the open source web based CMS’s (such as Drupal, Joomla and even WordPress)– become the default method for creating, editing and viewing web pages, and hence as the browser comes to house more and more of the web publishing workflow, tools such as Dreamweaver will lose much of their value unless they evolve to support this new paradigm. The notion that a web site is like a painting, or sculpture, or some other piece of static art is outdated. Expensive tools that cater to this notion, by making it easy to waste hours manipulating the ‘canvas’ pixel by pixel are becoming unnecessary or even counter-productive. More so than ever, the web is a changing environment. It’s easier, and better web design practice to get something online quickly, and tweak, or manage your design as it grows. Tools that support this new way of doing things are browser based and mostly free. There is still a lot of room for them to grow, especially in terms of usability, but I don’t see traditional web design tools being able to compete without adapting to this new landscape.

Eventually, as the web becomes more of a democracy, and the viewing-publishing dichotomy breaks down, web designers will have to make more of an effort to work with these new rules, and the software that has enabled the web to flourish from a visual standpoint up until now will have to adapt as well.