Nail Down Your Small Business Digital Marketing Strategy
Nostalgia is in. This post will cover the now (2017) vs. then (2000) of being a website designer and developer. In a strange way, some things we put on websites have stayed the same. Other former website trends have nearly become extinct in a "Flash."
Over the past 15+ years, people and technology joined brains to change our internet speed, connectivity and make it way easier to design a website. With platforms like WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace and Shopify, you can become a great designer and know enough to launch, optimize and index a website to search engines without learning code.
1. Put_an_Underscore_Between_Every_Word When Saving Files
When it comes to saving or moving files that make up a website, once upon a time there was zero flexibility. The Unix and Linux OS hangover period (1991-2000) did not allow spaces in file names. The options were makeyourfilenamealloneword, or distinguish_each_word_with_an_underscore.
Even today, you may still run into this strange underscore file naming (we are creatures of habit), but if you see it on front-end elements and files, you should correct it. Search engines will only display a file or URL with underscores if someone literally puts the underscores in their search query.
2. Keep Your Local File Directories in Tact OR ELSE
If you renamed or moved an image file in your local directory from it's original place, you'd see something like the broken image illustration above, and probably quit before you were able to fix it. Programs did not exist that gave convenient color coded indicators of good and bad code or paths. The solutions were found through trial and error.
Sometimes, developers would have to re-upload, re-name and re-insert EVERYTHING to get it to display properly again. There are still some companies today that refuse to use a content management system. Instead, they use root directories stored in a repository like Github or similar. This means that raw stylesheets and HTML files are what render their website, and if you are a designer or marketer without development chops, you won't make it far.
3. Marquees and Scrolling Text
Every one saw them, wanted them and commanded their developers to put a marquee on their website. They scrolled up, down, left, right and sometimes there was even a <blink> effect on them (ouch, this isn't a rave guys).
Marquees, with the exception of bad design decisions by Tumblr users, are rare on websites today. There was a key lesson carried forward from this awful trend. You are probably not a news or media company, so please don't act like one. Way to go, internet!
4. Every Website Page Was Basically HTML Tables on Steroids
At one point, every website was full of tables, thick dividers, multiple navigation bars and cramming as much information onto an 800x600 display as possible. Photographed above is the Apple website from 1997. Today, with the mobile user in mind first, we are finding companies doing the complete opposite and keeping website experiences clean, visually striking and simple.
5. You Used Microsoft Clip Art as Graphic Design Inspiration
Stock photos were available in the dark ages of website design, but most people could not afford them and they would take forever to load on dial up internet. It was also unheard of to store your own personal or company proprietary photos on your computer.
The average hard drive size before 2000 was 2-3GB, vs. today's average hard drive of 590 GB that's coupled with amazing ram and compression of applications. Floppy discs could maybe store two or three photos before being maxed out, if you even had a way to get them there. So, the next logical place to get your graphics for a website was through the clip art options in Microsoft Word.
6. You Stayed Up at Night to Learn Adobe (Macromedia) Flash
21 percent of websites (as of 2016) still have Flash elements. Rich, interactive and video content is available on the internet today because of Adobe Flash. Period. Flash brought websites an interactive experience, which designers and developers alike continue to build upon today. Flash most certainly has it's advantages in giving the web some flavor, but the disadvantages of learning, supporting and securing Flash on the internet grew much greater.
Just like a website pulling from a local file directory, Adobe Flash required everything to remain chained together. Keeping files in tact amongst different developers, designers and personnel is not even half the battle. The flash plugin is proprietary, and many people struggled to maintain the right flash plugin on their browser. The introduction of smartphones, HTML5, flash plugin security loopholes, frequent crashes, Mozilla, Google (YouTube) and Apple found a way to push Flash out.
7. Your Website Was "Under Construction" More Than it Was Live
Almost every website had to include the words UNDER CONSTRUCTION on the homepage, even when there was other content available on it. There was a limited pool of time, people and revision control to fix things on your website that looked terrible.
So much of what you see on the internet (both then and now) is through the tedious details, trial, error and style of a particular developer. So why not slap up some amazing under construction text or graphics on your homepage to save you from yourself or the other people tampering with your work?
8. The .gif was the only way you could make things look decent
We're not talking about the cool gifs of memes, animations and celebrities we get to use in text messages and on Twitter today....we're talking about how we all copied the brilliant design trend of SPACE JAM. Michael Jordan, Warner Brothers and gifs OWNED THE WEB DESIGN WORLD.
Is it a coincidence that gifs and animations are rockin' everyone's socks off on the internet today? Nope! First, there was the background.gif which we would design a pattern, (probably with clip art) in 64x64 pixels or preferably less. Then, we would set that .gif to repeat for a tiled background, which was tacky, but a breakthrough.
Earlier in this post it was mentioned how an entire website was really just HTML tables on steroids and a local root directory storing all of the graphics and files to render. How did we survive in this world, you ask? Well, enter another kind of gif.
The spacer.gif was a 1x1 pixel, of transparent color, that you would use to move things around, add some padding or center text. For instance, in a table you would put your spacer.gif, and set it's width to 200 or 300. Then, you'd type some text, add another spacer.gif, close out the row and boom, you had centered text (and only one screen resolution to worry about).
9. You used Microsoft FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Yahoo Geocities or MySpace to Build an Online Presence
These four programs were once all you had when it came to platforms for building a presence online. If you had a PC (likely a Compaq or Gateway brand may I add), you were using FrontPage. If you had a pretty, colorful and more expensive Apple computer, you were using Dreamweaver.
If it was a small local business, you used Geocities, because you could not in a million years figure out FrontPage or Dreamweaver. If it was for you exclusively and your personal brand, you were pimpin' out your page design on MySpace!
In the early 2000s, MySpace was one of the first platforms that enabled people to upload, store, organize and share their own photos for free. That's not far off from the primary reason people use apps like Facebook and Instagram today.
10. Bringing it Home with the Falling Hearts
If you've been wondering how or why in the world there are annoying falling hearts on this post, I can explain. If you did not have obscene objects falling in the background of your personal website or MySpace page, you were not cool.
I wrote, customized, and installed an overkill of falling objects for all of my friends in high school. The falling hearts render in HTML as a marquee in fixed positions with the scroll direction set down using a ♥ symbol or the URL of a small image. Background music on your page was another trend highly used along with falling objects.
P.S. Anxious Creations and #dailywebsitetips are on Instagram @anxiouscreations513
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