Tonight we're gonna party like it's nineteen ninety-six
April 24, 2010 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Your Old Crap Website - This blog is to celebrate the time when web design wasn’t limited by web standards and convention, and when the office geek was given full reign to set up the website on his own since the bosses probably couldn’t see the point in having one.
posted by Artw (45 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I had a student website I designed all by myself in notepad from like 97 or so. Thank goodness I used a pseudonym is what I'm saying.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on April 24, 2010

come now, I used Tripod to put up a certain event's photographs back in early 1998 - but how proud I was of the navigation buttons at the bottom and the animated 'send mail' gif
posted by infini at 9:51 AM on April 24, 2010

*sigh* A lot of my really early computer files ended up getting lost due to hard drives failing and other problems (I actually had a doublespace'd volume get corrupted due to a bad bios setting. That was fun). But yeah, I definitely cranked out my fair share of crap HTML :P
posted by delmoi at 9:53 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I could have saved myself years of "Oh WHY AREN'T THEY HIRING ME!!!!" B.S if I knew my god-awful my work was then, is what I'm saying. (and the "whew" realization that my actual working career is only about 5 years long no matter how professional i thought I was in HS)
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on April 24, 2010

You know, I'm glad we have all kinds of new info and ideas about web usability (I recently finished Don't Make Me Think, which was really good), but it seems like back in the late 90's and up through about 2002 or so, before anybody had any idea what worked and what didn't, there was more creativity on the web. Like, lacking boundaries of usability and aesthetics, people were more able to just come up with crazy-ass ideas (*cough*) and just go hog wild without concern for whether ir was a good idea or not.

It's nice being able to more effectively use websites these days, and of course the technology's better. I suppose I'm just being nostalgic. But I kind of wonder if there isn't any way to recapture that sense of possibility.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:14 AM on April 24, 2010 [11 favorites]

I had my first web account in late '95, when a friend of mine taught me how to use her HTML editor over Thanksgiving break at uni.

I was hooked from then on, spending all my time in the tiny all-night computer lab, where you could sit at a black-and-white UNIX terminal, telnet into your studentweb account, and pico your HTML directly in.

Sadly, the earliest sees it is December 1998.

But you know what? Considering what was readily available, and considering what other sites looked like at the time, I like to think my sites were pretty damned awesome. And if I hadn't learned HTML 15 years ago, I wouldn't be where I am now - professionally, personally and geographically.

So, yeah, my Old Crap Webpage was crap. But it was mine and I loved it.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:16 AM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm actually afraid to look to see if anything of mine survives from the 90s. My personal site that was slapped together in 2002 is bad enough.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Those were the good old days. Orrin Hatch Fun Page...whither hast thou gone???
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:34 AM on April 24, 2010

Isn't this kind of like your old crap airplane? The technology was new; it evolved and then design and aesthetic standards developed - but why find the early uses such a target?

Now that I've looked oh god those were some ugly ass sites, and maybe even more so by the standards of their day. But it's pretty easy to find horrifying and hideous overuse of whatever the hot new web design tool or trend is now, too. This looks more like making fun of ads or clothing styles or from 15 years ago or something, and in 15 years we'll mock sites that aren't considered so remarkably bad now.
posted by dilettante at 10:34 AM on April 24, 2010

Ah, here it is! I love the Wayback Machine.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:38 AM on April 24, 2010

I ordered a futon mattress last summer from this place. I knew they were trustworthy because they had obviously been in business forever.

Clicking on that blinking "add to cart" button was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
posted by zinfandel at 10:40 AM on April 24, 2010

This was one of mine. Built in Dreamweaver and Homesite and "designed" by me. Oh god.
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2010

The earliest has for my old website is Nov 1999.

I still am so pissed that a domain squatter managed to grab the domain from me when I had renewal issues. And I still love that logo. I should go get a tattoo of it.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 10:51 AM on April 24, 2010

How did one used to navigate around the old Toshiba site? Just click on the text links? NO. You see? You must click the remote control icon to make it pop up and then click a button. What could be simpler?

Oh Holy God.

Unfortunately difference between then and now is that now I can say, "Show me a site that implements your crazy idea and I'll do it." This usually involves going to competitor's sites and seeing that no, they don't put press releases on top of a picture of a piece of paper, and no navigating by clicking the little curl on the bottom of the piece of "paper" is only going to confuse people. Horror were the days where Revolutionary Road middle managers assumed they were blazing the frontiers of interaction design.
posted by geoff. at 10:53 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Still rockin' like it's 1999 -
posted by davebush at 11:06 AM on April 24, 2010

I remember my first website. It had a starfield background, a House of the Rising Sun MIDI, and a logo set in ITC Matisse. Oh, and a guestbook, and a webring table at the bottom. It was rad. And then, several years later, I discovered, and then shit got badical.

Halcyon days.
posted by Dreamcast at 11:07 AM on April 24, 2010

I remember my first website. It had a starfield background, a House of the Rising Sun MIDI, and a logo set in ITC Matisse.

The only thing missing is the Lake java applet (which I have to admit, I used a few places on the web).
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 11:13 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pomeranians for sale.
posted by spork at 11:43 AM on April 24, 2010 [16 favorites]

There could be a whole separate site for "unneccessary use of Java applets". Except your browser would crash before you even finished typing in the URL.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:45 AM on April 24, 2010

the funny thing is, as terrible as these old sites look to me now, part of me can put myself back in the mid-90s think how badass some of those sites were for the time. I mean the Cher splash page would have totally wowed me at 13 years old when I had a freaking angelfire website consisting of animated gifs.
posted by wundermint at 11:48 AM on April 24, 2010

I built this *and* managed to sell about 20 of the 100 or so CDs someone had talked me into trying to sell on the internet woo hoo etc ;p Would you buy from this site?
posted by infini at 11:50 AM on April 24, 2010

The oldest one they have of mine is from August 2000 and not all that bad, considering. But that's mostly because I kept it simple due to the slow modem connection I had. There's something to be said about designing within constraints.
posted by tommasz at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2010

Pomeranians for sale.

That is the coolest thing I have seen all day, seriously. In fairness I've done fuck all today apart from a bit of grocery shopping but still, wow.
posted by twistedonion at 11:55 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

What makes this most depressing is
(a) the witty title became obsolete on January 2, 2000.
(b) the title graphic misspelled "millennium" (I have always been spelling-challenged).
(c) I am currently in development of a new site with the same theme (as an exercise in database building).
(d) All of the above.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:11 PM on April 24, 2010

The crack on the Bacardi entry about the pictures of cutlery on the walls in the 1990s reminded me immediately of The Room.

Anybody know what the deal with the cutlery is? The author implies that it was a Thing that "we" all did. I wasn't old enough to be making interior decoration choices beyond unicorn posters, so I have no clue.
posted by emkelley at 12:12 PM on April 24, 2010

Has anyone ever done a visual history of the web? Like with art, using particular works to illustrate dramatic shifts in the entire history of Western painting. Were there particular websites that introduced an entirely new dynamic that everyone copied? I'm thinking, for instance, of the Apple website idealizing minimalism. Are there other examples that leave a powerful wake? Maybe Twitter's impact on facebook, for instance?
posted by jefficator at 12:20 PM on April 24, 2010

The only part of my high school website that still exists is this image. You can just imagine how awesome it was.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:30 PM on April 24, 2010

My site has been waybacked 190 times, from 1997 to 2008, but oddly nothing more recent.

I have always tried to keep the front page comfortably out-of-date. It's mostly java applets; maybe some warmed-over Perl scripting and dizzy Javascript. And if you can jun java applets, you can play Rogue
posted by hexatron at 1:23 PM on April 24, 2010

Anybody know what the deal with the cutlery is? The author implies that it was a Thing that "we" all did.

It's sarcasm, because it makes no sense for it to be in the bar.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:25 PM on April 24, 2010

Awesome, this thread has inspired me to look up my old site on the wayback machine!

Uh, thanks?

this was back when comic sans was cool, I swear
posted by Jawn at 1:40 PM on April 24, 2010

This is a site I launched in 1996. I haven't changed it since...I used to think I'd get around to an update, never did.

The most amusing thing about it is the size of the graphics in the "catalog." Those absolutely filled the screen in 1996.

This is typical of my mid-90's stuff. Frankly, I wish I could escape the endless "social web 2.0" stuff and go back in time. Though I don't miss using graphics for headline and navigation text, I do kinda miss the "purity" of a relatively small, self-contained site which didn't try to be everything to everyone.
posted by maxwelton at 1:49 PM on April 24, 2010

And upon reading through the archives, man I'm glad my drinking has matured since then. Pink panty droppers, brain hemmorages, red headed sluts, seriously? I can't believe I once drank that shit, which I now mock people for ordering.
posted by Jawn at 2:39 PM on April 24, 2010

Here's my first website, which I made with Dreamweaver and never touched again... because I was too busy with this project. Mr. Corpse made this one in 1998 or 1999, which I think isn't too shabby.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:44 PM on April 24, 2010

My site has been waybacked 190 times, from 1997 to 2008, but oddly nothing more recent.

Pages can take up to 18 months to appear in the archives. I also suspect that the number of times you get crawled by is proportionate to the number of IE visitors you get, unless you take matters into your own hands (and give up some privacy).

My first ever web pages were on a student run server at Edinburgh University in 93/94. I think the particular hardware it lived on died and the pages were lost with it, though a later instantiation provided a veritable cornucopia of early web design, including at least one MeFite.

I had another web page on some free hosting which came with .Net magazine in the late nineties. Can't remember what the URL was so, thankfully, no chance of digging that one up on

First thing I did that does make it on to was after I'd taken a course in web design. Done in Dreamweaver, tables for layout, a 'best viewed' tagline and javascript rollover images for navigation, so basically useless to look at now as didn't capture any of the images.
posted by robertc at 3:45 PM on April 24, 2010

Oh, I just remembered that my first website was one I made in 1997, but I don't remember the URL. It probably had my school username in it, which I still use. I seem to be missing something in's search; any suggestions on how to find the URL if you only remember a bit of it?
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:00 PM on April 24, 2010

I am not a web designer-- I never designed anything-- but I sure did enjoy reading the posted blog. Thanks for the link.
“The illustration of the cocoa tree is used to symbolise the continuing development of the Cadbury World Wide Web site. As the web site expands, so new cocoa pods will appear on our tree.”

Let’s now have a look at the tree in 1997
Yay! A new pod for the exciting Chocolate Market Review page!

I wonder how much it’ll have grown in 1998?
Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! Some bastard has cut it down
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:00 PM on April 24, 2010

including at least one MeFite.

um, Glenmorangie? (which I'm currently enjoying on ice with a splash of drambuie)
posted by infini at 4:05 PM on April 24, 2010

I launched my personal web site in 1998, and it's still up, but you won't find it archived anywhere as I never allowed it to be cached in its earliest forms.

What you see now is what you get.

My only complaint is how the word 'blog' gets applied to every site now, despite that my site is patently not a blog.
posted by bwg at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2010

Some guy called last year demanding I pay him 700 bucks for hosting services I cancelled in 1999. After I told him to fuck off I realized that my old website must still exist somewhere on the web, exciting news since those folders jumped between five or six drives over the years and were long since corrupted. So I found it, downloaded the whole damn thing, and promptly moved it to an encrypted flash drive that is now lost (but probably tucked in with the pornos from high school). Just checked back, and the web version is gone. Ha ha!
posted by carsonb at 4:37 PM on April 24, 2010

I used Tripod to put up a certain event's photographs back in early 1998

I can one-up this: I was Tripod's chief of design. I am relieved that all of my work there predates the wayback machine -- the earliest pages they show for are the work of the person they hired to replace me.
posted by ook at 4:48 PM on April 24, 2010 [5 favorites]

They all still suck.

Simple is better.
posted by HTuttle at 4:59 PM on April 24, 2010

My design company in '99
posted by Mick at 6:00 PM on April 24, 2010

You know what would actually be more interesting is a list of old websites that had forward thinking design that still holds up today. comes to mind. I'm sure there are others.
posted by empath at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

ook, thanks for that tidbit... it just makes the warm blue fuzzies all the more like what I always felt about the webz "our internetworked world wide web of humanity"
posted by infini at 1:31 AM on April 25, 2010

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