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Progress in Design: 22 Hot Websites Then and Now

progress-in-design-hot-webistes-then-and-now

I sometimes wonder, is design progressive? That’s a tough question. Let’s break it down a little. Maybe we could compare some big names in the online world and see how they looked at launch and what did they do with their design?

Did they make any progress in design? You be the judge:)

1. Yahoo (website launched in 1995)

Yahoo at launch


Yahoo design now

2. Amazon (1995)

Amazon design at launch


Amazon design now

3. eBay (earliest screen available is 1997)

eBay design at launch


eBay design now

4. Weather.com (1996)

Weather com design at launch


Weather com design now

5. AT&T (1996)

AT&T design at launch


AT&T design now

6. American Express (1996)

American Express design at launch


American Express design now

7. Apple (1996)

Apple design at launch


Apple design now

8. Samsung (1996)

Samsung design at launch


Samsung design now

9. NY Times (1996)

NY Times design at launch


NY Times design now

10. GAP (1996)

Gap design at launch


Gap design now

11. Dell (1996)

DELL design at launch


Dell design now

12. Netflix (1997)

Netflix design at launch


Netflix design now

13. Google (1998)

Google design at launch


Google design now

14. Linkedin (2002)

LinkedIn design at launch


LinkedIn design at launch

15. Myspace (2003)

Myspace design at launch


Myspace design now

16. Shutterstock (2003)

Shutterstock design at launch


Shutterstock design now

17. Digg (2004)

Digg design at launch


Digg design now

18. Vimeo (2004)

Vimeo design at launch


Vimeo design now

19. Facebook (2004)

Facebook design at launch


Facebok design now

20. Youtube (2005)

Youtube design at launch


YouTube design now

21. Huffington post (2005)

Huffington Post design at launch


Huffington Post design now

22. Twitter (2006)

Twitter design at launch


Twitter design now

A crazy adventure, wasn’t it! I remember that seeing those sites live “back in the day” was a completely different experience than looking back at them from a years perspective. Maybe you had a similar feeling that back then, what you see above was completely normal, even typical. Really, those sites aren’t the ugliest, crappiest websites of the 90s – this is how the online world looked. Seeing them now is like living in a world where nobody cares about user experience, all visual designers became radical bohema and no machine couldn’t handle the convoluted gears of CSS.

What would make a difference back then would be a reference to good website design (which unfortunately was hard to find). Come to think of it, the reference to designs that feel way better is the main factor that makes the oldies look so silly now. We compare them to standards of modern times where things changed dramatically. Remember, this was a very early market!

Not only technology enabled more daring and dazzling design. The reference principle moved on as well. In market terms, the reference is competition. The mentioned websites exist in quite competitive markets; they are constantly compared to other. That is why they change and that is why they would lose once stopped to evolve.

A fun experiment to make that thought resonate. Go back to the design comparisons and imagine that this is not history but contemporary times and the old designs are competitive services that try to take on the sites as we know them:) Try to imagine that the old Amazon is really a startup called Nozama and it tries to take win your heart and mind in competition with Amazon.com. Which would better serve your demand?

One final thought. If YouTube stopped at those first 20 videos, I would risk a thesis that no one would care about its design, because nobody would care for YouTube in the first place.

So what do you think about design progress of those sites? Share your thoughts with others in the comments below. Also you should check out our design companions that will help your design compete:

Ps. KUDOS to Wayback Machine!

Pps. the best page in the universe as in The Best Page in the Universe.;)

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Mateusz Makosiewicz

by Mateusz Makosiewicz

UXPin CMO and Lead Growth Hacker

CMO and Lead Growth Hacker @ UXPin. After graduating from Philosophy and Advertising & Media Marketing managed marketing projects from IT, FMCG to Energy industry. After hours loves tinkering with his 3D printer, playing guitar, reading and blogging. Follow me on Twitter

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