Websites from the Past

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Whether you were into chocker necklaces, platform shoes, or wearing scrunchies in your hair, we all had one thing in common: the golden age of dial-up Internet! Surfing the web in the ‘90s and 2000s was totally rad. Do you remember what websites looked like back then? Looking at the earliest versions of websites for major brands is hilarious. What better time to reminisce on the poor use of screen space, neon border effects and scrolling marquees than on #FlashbackFriday!

The websites I found using the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive, have elements that inspired new design trends today. Take a walk with me down memory lane!

1. Google’s Simplistic Interface Design (1997)


When Google first launched in 1997, they lacked a webmaster. No one knew HTML. The first thing users saw when visiting the site was the huge, colorful logo and a search bar. Although it may have been considered boring in the ‘90s for its absence of creative design and flying text, Google’s purpose was clear. People came to the site to search the World Wide Web for whatever their heart desired. Today, Google sets the standard for its sleekness and other than improving functionality, the website really hasn’t changed much over the last two decades.

2. Apple’s First Website (1997)


Young Apple users may not remember a time before iPhones and Apple Watches, but in the late ‘90s Steve Jobs redefined the Internet age. When first unveiled in 1997, Apple’s site included stories on Mac products and the company’s expertise. They had the right idea about educating consumers through testimonials added on the webpage. The site had a navigation menu on the left, making it incredibly easy for users to find the information they were looking for. Apple was, and still is, exceptional at differentiating themselves from other competing brands. They always seem to be one step ahead of the rest of the world.

3. Interactive Gilmore Girls Website (2004)

About 13 years ago, Gilmore Girls was a favorite television series for many college females and mothers. The Gilmore Girls’ website featured flashy illustrations, large imagery, creative patterns and vibrant colors that captured your attention. Rory and Lorelai’s story was told through the trendy use of design and a slideshow of photos.

4. McDonalds Landing Page (1996)

McDonald’s website in 1996 was not at all complex. It was simplified using flat design which is a huge trend today for creating a classic website. Flat design uses clean, open space, bright colors and two-dimensional graphics. Though the red was incredibly difficult to read and look at, it was used to create passionate brand loyalists. Before call-to-action buttons were developed, McDonald’s provided a link for viewers to explore further into their website. Despite the harsh color choices, McDonald’s was successful in engaging consumers through its first website.

5. Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign Site (1996)

Political campaigns today have taken a turn in how they interact with voters through social media, online donations, videos and blogging, all of which can now be incorporated onto a website. Having a website is an indispensable part of promoting a campaign for those running for office. In 1996, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore sought to “build a bridge to the 21st century” and their website was one way they accomplished this goal. They also used a split layout that is popular in web design today. The page was split vertically to separate pieces of information and usually involves contrasting light and dark color schemes. This was a great way to engage with voters and assist them in their decision-making.

6. Space Jam’s Promotional Website (1996)


Space Jam’s 1996 website created rich, user-experience and was successful in promoting the film to consumers. Warner Brother’s developed this cheesy, intergalactic website that can still be accessed today. I love the creative layout and the simple navigation of the site. Each planet leads to another page, and if you click on the Space Jam logo in the top left corner, it directs you back to the homepage like all websites should do today.

The Internet has evolved so much over the last few years and has opened up many new marketing channels for businesses attracting new customers. Having a website for your business adds instant credibility and educates the world about what your brand has to offer. It is wonderful to get inspiration from these websites from the past, but use this list to make sure your site isn’t stuck in the wrong decade. Contact us for help!

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