I was doing a little ruminating today about my first web site and how far the web really has come. As I was looking back, I began remembering all of the trends in web design from the 90s. These are the things we all included on our web sites by default, and now have gone the way of the dinosaur:

  • Guestbook – remember how cool it was to have a really long guestbook on your site? That meant you were very popular and people cared enough to leave a message. These have mostly been replaced with blog comments and forums.
  • Counter – what better way to tell how many people have visited your site than to display in on the homepage? Of course, you need to go to the homepage to see it, which automatically increments the count by one, but still! This has been replaced by web statistics generated from server logs.
  • Image Maps – first server-side, then client-side, image maps seem to have disappeared from the web.
  • Best Viewed With… – this warning seemed to be on most pages during the 90s. “Best viewed with Netscape Navigator 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0.” Maybe it was nicer to let people know that their browser may not support the site, now we just let people figure that out for themselves (for the most part) or serve up different content based on the browser being used.
  • Splash Pages – there was once a time when the first page you saw on a site would contain nothing more than a logo, a message, or some other useless information. This then gave birth to the Flash Intro page, which also has most disappeared (thankfully) from the web. Thankfully, most designers now know enough to include the most important content on the home page.

Rest in peace, web trends of the 90s, you served your purpose.

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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