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The Evolution of Web Design with 1,600 Examples

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You create and design a modern website that follows the latest trends in design and, as soon as you have it ready, new functionalities and styles have already appeared that you should incorporate into your website so that it doesn’t look outdated. The evolution of web design since the first HTML website appeared 30 years ago has been spectacular. You just need to take a look back…

This look is precisely what the Web Design Museum, founded in May 2017 by Petr Kovář and Ondřej Letocha, shows us, and to which I think it is worth dedicating a post on our blog.

Gallery of the Web Design History

The Web Design Museum includes a gallery of more than 1,600 screenshots of websites for you to discover design trends already forgotten from the 90s to 2006. The screenshots of the websites shown in the museum come from Petr Kovář’s private archive or have been obtained through the Internet Archive, Arquivo.pt, Archive-It, Library of Congress, Stanford Web Archive Portal, Perma.cc, other services and some sent by museum visitors.

When you see them, you will find yourself thinking, “Wow! I didn’t even remember this website! Did this really look modern to us?

Web Design Museum
Screenshot of Web Design Museum.

In the image gallery you can search for websites by filtering by year of publication, by graphic style, or by type of business.

Timelines

In the Timelines tab, you can see how the design of major brands’ websites (Google, Apple, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) has evolved throughout history. Take a look at screenshots showing how the Apple website has evolved since 1996.

Exhibitions

Like many museums, the Web Design Museum also has its special exhibition area, in this case, on special web design themes:

  • Web design in the 90’s: to raise a smile. You can see what the websites of Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo or Pepsi were like, among others.
  • Adult websites in the 90’s: websites with erotic content started as soon as HTML was available. If you were a minor and you missed what they were like in the 90s, here they are.
  • 2Advanced Studios: with the turn of the millennium, 2Advanced Studios was synonymous with the highest quality flash websites of the moment.
  • Web Design Pixel Art: Pixel art became popular in 2000. You will find the websites of the main pioneers in pixel art.
  • Bad and ugly websites: without a doubt, a collection of websites with combinations of pictures, colors, styles and fonts that frighten every visitor.
  • Grunge web design: websites that are characterized by a design with a somewhat sloppy appearance, scattered elements, a dirty background or torn edges.
  • Hollywood movie websites: in case you are nostalgic for a movie.
  • Music group websites: Rolling Stones, Backstreet Boys, Aerosmith and many more.
  • Google in 2000: Take a look at how Google and the services it offered 20 years ago have changed.
  • Google Doodles: Some Google Doodles since 1998.
  • Browsers from the 90’s: surely you don’t even know the name of some of the browsers available in those years.
  • 90’s web banners: already in those years many banners included animations.
  • Soccer websites: it is even hard to believe what some of the 90’s websites of the different teams in the European football league were like.
FC Barcelona website in 1998
Screenshot of the 1998 FC Barcelona website.

Flash Websites

At the turn of the millennium, the most creative web design was found in those designed with Flash, including animations that were not possible until then with only HTML. The collection of websites available is incredible and they include links so you can see on YouTube what the animations were like.

Web Design History

On the history of web design, the museum includes this section, Web Design History Timeline, so that you can learn more about the appearance of specific terminology for websites, design elements and some websites that have marked history throughout these 30 years.

Screenshot of a website defining how the term "User Experience" has evolved
The term User Experience first appeared in 1995.

The timeline is very visual and includes links to the source where you can learn more about any item or term.

In addition, in this section you will also find some quizzes to entertain you and check what you know about the history of web design.

Screenshot of a quizz asking you when Space Jam's website was launched

Old Software

Finally, the website includes a section that explains the software that has been used for web design since the 1990s: graphics software, HTML editors, web browsers, and Macromedia Flash.

Screenshot of FutureSplash Animator
FutureSplash Animator was a multimedia graphics software from the mid-90s.

Conclusion

It’s worth it, especially now that we have limited travel, to visit the Web Design Museum. Looking at many of the screenshots of websites that have been designed over 30 years, you discover that the evolution that has taken place is impressive, but you also wonder if the creativity that came to be with the available resources, much more limited than the current ones, was greater.

And although I personally am not very nostalgic for past times, I assure you that visiting this museum will bring more than a smile to your face.

Featured image from Senad Palic on Unsplash.

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