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isp home pages back in the day

snet-1997Pictured is the ISP I used back in 1997 and what their home page used to look like. You can check out an archive of it here.

The page is optimized for 640x480 (no joke) and was designed for Netscape 2 or Internet Explorer 2. It is a badly programmed crappy site made at a time when nobody really knew what to do with web design they just went with whatever worked.

Every image on the page is a GIF and there's only one font, that being Times New Roman because in version 2 browsers you couldn't specify different fonts.

There's a part of me that really appreciates a design like this because it's so utterly simple. Nothing but HTML, tables and small images. As wonky as it is, it works.

Several times I've considered junking all my CSS and go with a pre-2000 era design like this. If you work enough at it you can make it look good. And oddly enough some of the longest lasting sites on the internet don't stray too far off this design.

There are a few truths to going "barebones" with design:

  1. Any browser can view it. You don't have to worry about any compatibility issues whatsoever.
  2. Any smartphone can view it. More people are viewing web pages with smartphones. The browsers loaded in those small devices are limited at best (even on the iPhone). If you go barebones, all modern devices will be able to "read" your site easily.

The current design of my site is already simplistic but I might just go a step further (or back in this case) and go with a pre-2000 era design. Have you seen Drudge Report or The Best Page In The Universe? Both those sites have old-old-old design cues and get massive web traffic. That says something.

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