The Sins of Our [Web Development] Past

I just came across these pictures (top: homepage; bottom: sub-landing page) of my first, heavily text-based website that I built in 1998 (Hmmm. Where were screenshot options back then?). Here are larger sizes of the top and bottom images. The blue arrow blinked, and the site was entirely built by hand-coding with a strict print-layout style in mind. WYSIWYG editors or blogging platforms back then? Pah!

Notice, my email address was… I was really into typography.

It is fun looking back. Back then, I experimented with HTML and made many (in hindsight), horrible design choices. But there weren’t that many templates and how-to guidelines to go by.

Now, the same site looks like this, with CSS3 and HTML5 and social media plug ins, Google Analytics and what not.

We’ve come a long way. Here is a stunning infographic about the evolution of the web. Another graphic by Mashable shows the progress in web design over the years. And check out here how Amazon, Google, Apple and Hotmail, among others, looked like just 10 years ago.

On that same note, here is a website dedicated to web designs of the past: “What Was the First Website You Designed.” You can submit your own first designs there. Don’t be shy.

And to all you non-designers or web developers who grew up with the ease of social media and blogging platforms to publish your stuff: Don’t smirk. Not so long ago, we were pretty much left on our own to come up with what you might take for granted now.

UPDATE: Found the amazing Waybackmachine by Internet Archive ( that lets you search screenshots of any site over the years. Check my site going back to 1999 or plug in an URL and go back in time.

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Tekla Szymanski

Tekla is a New-York based independent content strategist and front-end web developer, a multilingual journalist, writer and editor (both offline and online).

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