Author and Web Design Pioneer Dies at 51

A pioneer in web design who died last week is being heralded by a professor at a web design school as a man who “brought web design to life” according to a New York Times report this month. “Hillman Curtis was a prominent first-generation Web designer and a visionary” the report declares.

Curtis is the author of three main-stay textbooks at web design schools around the world. Over 150,000 copied of Flash Web Design, MTIV, and Creating Short Films for the Web have been sold – many to college design students who hope to learn from his genius.

According NYT’s report:

Hillman Curtis, a former rock musician who became a prominent first-generation Web designer and a visionary figure in the Internet’s evolution from a predominantly text-based medium to the multimedia platform it is today, died on Wednesday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 51.

The cause was colon cancer, his wife, Christina, said.

Mr. Curtis was the art director of a San Francisco software company in 1996 when he designed the first Web site formatted for a new technology called Flash Player, a browser plug-in that could be used to turn out high-quality animated imagery quickly. Before then the process would take hundreds of hours.

Richar Schupe, professor of web design at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan Mr. Curtis’s Flash Player design was a milestone that “brought Web design to life.” His ability to teach other Web designers, he added, helped “jump-start a process of Web democratization that continues today.” (Read the story from the New York Times.)

A dedication to Curtis now appears on the home page of his company website, (

Hillman passed away at home on April 18th at 6:03 pm in the presence of his loving wife, two children, his sister, sister in law and brother in law. He was 51… (Read the dedication here.)

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