I was looking at The Wayback Machine recently — a fantastic resource that has been archiving websites for more than ten years. I was trying to find an old site I built that I never kept a copy of, but alas it was not there.
I was disappointed but began to think about the first site I built — it was in 1997 and was version two of Maxim Training’s website, the company I was working for at the time. I punched in the URL and lo and behold, there it was in all it’s framed glory:
Looking at this with hindsight, my reaction was “What was I thinking?” I then went and gave myself a good slap.
Look at that lovely textured background! Look at the frames (two levels no less!). It has keyword spamming, a table based design, graphical text, crappy icons (I was sure they looked a lot better than that when I drew them) and a whole host of other things that are now firmly at the top of the list entitled “Big Fat No-Nos of Web Design”.
So what’s the point of highlighting this, other than some self-indulgent, self-berating nostalgia? Well, I think it shows that – despite the web still being an immature medium – we have come such a long way in such a short space of time.
Most of the things that are bad about that site are no longer being perpetuated by good web designers and developers. We’ve learnt so much:
- Sites that use frames stop search engines from indexing your content
- Graphical text is not search engine friendly and is inaccessible to some browsing devices
- Table-based layouts break usability and accessibility
- Keyword-spamming can get you de-listed from search engines
- People associate good design with good content — if your design sucks, no-one will read your content, however useful it might be. I think I’ve got a bit better at design since then!
Of course, we’re still learning. The web is maturing at a staggering rate. It’s becoming easier and quicker to develop new ideas, new ways of interacting with customers and new marketing opportunities. It’s exciting and it is hopefully only going to get better.
I’m looking forward to the day I can write an article about this site and say “What on earth was I thinking?” Well, almost.