In the beginning was the <blink> tag
In 1997 I co-founded a company whose business model was based on the value of building highly customized websites for our clients. Those clients often didn't know (or want to know) much about the inner workings of HTML, Photoshop, hyperlinks and web hosting, but they knew that the World Wide Web and the Internet represented a new era of marketing and communications, and it was worth paying someone else to figure those details out so that they could be a part of that in some form.
And so in a time before content management software, Google, PayPal or GoDaddy, we - like other web development companies starting to pop up around the world - built websites, online stores and interactive community tools from scratch. At first we hand-coded sites in HotDog Pro or BBEdit, and then later used Dreamweaver and Fireworks. We created complex software applications using Perl, and others used PHP, Python, TCL and C. We tested for compatibility with Netscape and Internet Explorer, and we submitted links to AltaVista for crawling when we were done.
That model evolved as we went and worked pretty well until around 2008, when we saw the maturity of many new "software as a service" offerings and a bunch of off-the-shelf tools and programs that often made custom website development unnecessary, or at least seen as too costly in the eyes of clients who once had few other choices. We also saw the focus on developing an online presence shift away from "doing it right" to "doing it quickly" - edgy, authentic and in-progress began to trump polished and highly produced.