Web design has come an awful long way in the past few decades, from basic black and white pages all the way to all-singing, all-dancing, video-embedded, animated behemoths.

I still remember the first time I used the internet. Sitting on my Dad’s knee at his office – back then, people didn’t really have home computers – I fought with my brother over whose turn it was first. He won, being four years older.

D…I….N….O….S….A.…U….R, he typed, very slowly. After waiting for what would now seem like a lifetime for the dial-up to whir and this miraculous invention to do its job, up popped information about dinosaurs. Hurrah! The world is at our fingertips! It’s just a shame that it looks so damn ugly…

Of course, at the time, we didn’t realise that websites looked less than desirable. It was just what was available. It wasn’t until much later that the incredible possibilities of design were opened up to us and websites really became officially beautiful – works of art, almost. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane…

1991: The World Wide Web for Dummies

Published in 1991 by Tim Burners-Lee, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, this is a very basic page. HTML, white background, black text, blue hyperlinks. Not exactly beautiful, but it certainly does the job of explaining all about ‘w3’. And with no real competition out there, who was going to complain?

WWW

1996: Space Jam

This website has been left completely untouched since 1996. It’s a perfect combination of garish gifs, conflicting colours, neons, busy backgrounds and, of course, the obligatory Times New Roman in fashionable red on black. Spectacular(ly bad).

space jam website

1996 to 2002: Yahooooooo!

After its basic start, Yahoo’s web design became more complex… but not necessarily that much more beautiful.

yahoo website

 

1997 – 2015: Jurassic Park/Jurassic World

One of the websites that my brother would have loved is this jurassic beauty. Created in 1997 for the release of Jurassic Park, it’s a clever little piece of digital marketing which is still accessible today – looking just as it did nearly 20 years ago.

lost world

It’s incredible to compare it to the recent website for the Jurassic Park reboot, Jurassic World. Wow is all I need to say:

lost world2

 

Flashmobbed

While HTML sites were quite restricted, Flash allowed developers to create more complex designs with impressive interactive features and animation.

One fabulous Flash website is Monoface, created in 2007 by advertising agency Mono. It’s an incredibly addictive website which allows users to manipulate facial features into over 750k possibilities. Once this blog post is written I know how I’m going to spend the rest of my day! Go on, give it a go.

lost world

2015: The Anomaly. My eyeeees!

While all other website designs seem to be improving and becoming more sophisticated, some don’t seem to be able to keep up with the times (or maybe they’re just not bothered…).

I’m not too sure what on earth is going on here. It looks like Mr Burns is trying to get his entire website content on the homepage. This is at 50% zoom! It’s a perfect case of what not to do. The best thing about this? Its most recent information is from 2015. There are such incredible, easy-to-use website templates around these days (and exceptional web design companies to do all the leg-work for you) that it’s incredulous a website this bad exists. Sorry, Mr Burns, but this is in no way eeeeexcellent.

steve burns

2016: A feast for the eyes

Feed is a truly stunning website that challenges our understanding of what is possible on the web. It won Site of The Day in the Awwwards back in June, and for good reason. You absolutely must take a look at it in action – the screenshot doesn’t do it justice.

steve burns

It’s pretty astounding the variations in websites we see nowadays, from complex, multi-dimensional beauties to flat, text-based, jumbled ugly sisters. Creating a dazzling website is within everyone’s reach these days, whether you’re running a personal blog or a multinational company. There’s no excuse for poor design. What have you got to lose?

P.s. My first ever internet search was ‘Barbie’. What was yours?

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Author Nikki Hall

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