It seems like a really long time ago when everybody had a huge PC and was excited about the prospect of “surfing the internet.” In 2017, it’s such an integral part of everyday life that it’s hard to imagine a time when brands and businesses didn’t use the web to its full potential as a marketing tool.

Yet back in the 1990s, that’s what we seen with company websites – nobody really knew what they were doing, there were no design guidelines or web user research to help businesses build their sites. Looking back on some of them now, it’s laughable to see how simple and useless websites used to be. Thankfully, innovation moved fast and we realised web design is so important that it became a separate entity and profession for creative individuals.

So what did websites in the 90s actually look like? Let’s go back in time to see what some millennials have missed out on.

Very boring fonts

Yes, there was a time before typography and it seems in the 90s there were literally two fonts to choose from for website text. Even Apple’s website was dull, with a white background and black, boring text. Titles and subheadings were also pretty poor, with most of them just formatted in bold or caps lock. This lack of difference meant there was nowhere on the page to draw the eye.

No purpose

Some websites were just confusing for users because they seemed pointless – they simply had no purpose. Online shopping was only introduced in the mid-90s and many companies didn’t introduce the e-commerce part of their site until later. Brands knew they needed a place on the web but didn’t know what to do with it. Some websites just had galleries of products and a slogan on the homepage, with no calls to action. Websites these days are much clearer on the purpose. Even if you can’t buy the product or service through the website, there would be lots of information about it and you would be directed to contact the company.

Click to continue home page

It was a trend that lasted a long time and we can’t think of any logical reason why! For some reason, companies decided they should have a fake home page as an ‘introduction’ to their online experience, and then users had to click to continue to the real site. In 1996, the McDonald’s home page was just a red screen with a small fact (in a boring font)…

Did you know that it took three years to sell 100 million hamburgers, but by our 15th anniversary we were selling them at a rate of 3.5 million per day?

Click on the golden arches to continue

Thankfully most brands have steered away from this tactic today. Why make users click more than they need to in order to find information?

Websites in the 1990s were terrible because it was still a time of experimentation. If you want to make sure you have a modern and forward thinking website, you know who to call!

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