For those that have been around the World Wide Web as long as I have, there have certainly been a lot of changes. Trends have come and gone and those sites that have not kept up with the times seem ancient-looking even though the “real” time that has passed is barely a blip in history.
While it has been nice to see many things improve design-wise on the Internet from the days when almost everything was nothing but text and hyperlinks, some things have been downright horrible. This ranges from the overuse (or, any use) of Flash to those that believe it’s really a good idea to make their navigation links off-white on a white background because it looks cool to some silly hipster that thinks he is god’s gift to Web design. Sometimes, it makes one wish for something more standard even if it ends up cluttered or clunky looking.
It is becoming more and more difficult to find a “live” website that uses some sort of older design. About the only ones I can recall off the top of my head that are of any consequence are the Astronomy Picture of the Day site that probably hasn’t been redesigned since 1995 and some other sub-sites and pages deep within NASA.gov that might be even older.
Even most personal websites have changed greatly since they began to take off around 1996 when the Web really started going commercial. Most have either turned into blogs with fairly basic designs (just like this site) or have taken advantage of professionally-designed albeit occasionally repetitive templates.
All of these things flooded back to me and came together in my mind when I made one of my regular visits to a long-running and somewhat historic website that, after being about the same since I first discovered it in 1998, finally got itself a new and very modern-looking design. Adding more to my recollections of the Internet’s relatively brief history was that this website might be better remembered by many for its appearances on other websites, especially all of those plethora of personal home pages that cropped up through the late 1990’s on free hosts like GeoCities, Tripod, Angelfire, FortuneCity, TheGlobe, and so many more.
That is because anybody that bothered to surf anywhere on the Internet outside of Yahoo between at least 1998 and…oh, let’s say 2004 to be generous…has seen this little gizmo or its smaller version probably more times than they could ever count.
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