I posted on Saturday about the evolution of my old site, dawnsbrain.com. I thought it would be fun today to compare four sites that been around about as long as the Web itself. The Web Archive begins in 1996. I took a sample of each site roughly every two years. Please forgive any missing images; the archive doesn’t always get every piece.
Microsoft’s is more compact vertically than Apple’s (which is very scrollerific). Microsoft and has a nice header that expands across the top. Apple has a sweet scroll box for choosing alternate country sites. Both Microsoft and Apple have a colored vertical column and a white background for the main text. Adobe blows them both away with a compact layout based on a grid. Too bad the navigation text is super teeny tiny. Instead of a complex table structure, the layout mainly consists of three horizontal images with extensive image maps. Yahoo combines a simple search box with a large directory list and icons for navigation. No-one has adopted CSS yet (the CSS 1 specification was completed this year).
Microsoft makes a vast improvement in its layout, but their home page is super link-heavy and the text is very small. Apple’s site has more of a sense of hierarchy, with new product images giving a visitor a quick pathway to the most popular pages. Adobe chooses red text links to match their logo, and the effect is garish. The images are unusual and appealing. Finally, Yahoo tightens up their home page with a double-column directory listing. However, it would take some time to learn what you are supposed to do here. Microsoft has a rudimentary use of CSS for styling text and links, but none of the others do.
2000, Web 1.0
Microsoft incorporates more images but the home page is still text- and link-heavy. News and download panels arrive on the right. Apple’s home is essentially the same as in 1998. Now glassy tabbed navigation appears on the top. Adobe gets pretty playful here. Adobe’s organization and hierarchy are the best in the bunch. Yahoo tries to put it all on the home page, and finally starts blocking out areas of content. The use of CSS has not progressed on any of the sites.
Coming soon: Part 2…