Today, almost 4.6 billion people are actively online. This means over half of the entire global population is consistently on the internet every day. It has simply become a norm in the digital age, with everyone connected to their mobile phones wherever they go, and toting their laptops or using their desktops at home. People are savvier with the internet these days, and with that goes newfound expectations that society has over what lies within the vast world wide web. If today’s users were exposed to the websites of yore, it just wouldn’t fly.
Today, people are very particular about website design because it stokes their perception of whatever the site represents. If it’s a platform that requires interaction, users expect an interface that is easy to navigate. If it’s a blog or a webpage for a company, users expect good aesthetic value at the forefront with content well-placed for viewing both on mobile and PC. Better web design has created more efficient functionality, and frankly, it’s just easier on the eyes.
That said, there are still remnants of the older eras of the internet that still exist and remain quite active despite looking like a timestamp of a bygone time. It’s interesting to see how they function and what it spells for just how quickly we are progressing digitally. After all, even Google web search looked significantly different just a few years ago, and yet barely anyone remembers that format anymore. Here are some old sites (that are still kicking) to check out.
This is one of the websites out there that is still actively being updated as late as 2020, and still provides much functionality for those that are looking to make use of its links and services. Primarily a resource for those that like to tinker with their game software and manipulate source codes either for fun or, well, cheating in games, this site hosts an engine that actually has to be fit for modern times because it needs to keep up with new codes and game engines. However, if you take a look at its web design alone, that would not look like the case at all. The site started in the year 2000, and it looks like it is still stuck in that era visually.
It’s pretty fascinating to see a site that is still actively hosting an extensive service that many people use in today’s digital landscape yet uses what looks like basic HTML for its layout. Even its forum is very much a snapshot of the old early noughties’ forums visually. This is one of those cases that is quite interesting because it seems like a deliberate choice to keep the visuals that way, either for simplicity of hosting or as a distinctive aesthetic decision.
This one is a real veteran of the internet age, clocking in at over three decades of existence since its 1987 launch. Initially created as a site representing People for Internet Responsibility, whose name pretty much explains the purpose of the organization, it now promotes the very relevant issue of network neutrality to support the freedom and fairness that the internet should have for everyone. It’s a noble and modern effort and makes this another one of those deceptively archaic-looking websites that actually holds helpful resources like links to instructions on how to test your internet service provider (ISP) for DNS diversions.
It still carries legal copyright for 2020, meaning it still receives updates. That, in itself, is a fascinating surprise if you simply look at it from a design perspective. There is no mobile viewing adoption, and the landing page looks like what other modern sites look like when there’s a shockingly slow internet connection, and things don’t load beyond the basic text.
If one were to tour the internet like a museum, this would surely be one of those highlighted relics that always get attention. With its art style and full-page background, it feels distinctively ’90s. Launched in 1996 to support its namesake movie, Space Jam, you can still hop around its tabs from the “site map” to the “jump station.” It is a fun look at how web design used to be and how people made use of animated icons and clipart together in the past. The text clashes with the background, and the font is decidedly Times New Roman, obviously dating this website on looks alone but being a reminder of the changing tastes and capabilities that were afforded to the public via the internet.
This is by no means to insult the design of these websites or criticize their contributions, but it’s a real insight into how much progress we’ve achieved in the world of tech and how in just a few years, norms can become obsolete.