Website Design – How Far We’ve Come

The very first website was launched on August 6, 1991.

It was developed by Tim Berners-Lee and ran on a NeXT computer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN. It was a basic website that provided information about the World Wide Web project.

This is what it looked like.

The World Wide Web Project

Pretty basic stuff. Just text and some hyperlinks.

Since then, over 1,000,000,000 websites have been launched ( and technology has changed dramatically.

I thought I’d have some fun and have a look at what some of the most popular websites looked like when they were first launched, compared to what they look like now. I used the Wayback Machine ( to have a look at some of the early websites. Here are a few “then and now” screen shots.

Hope you enjoy!

Google – Dec 2, 1998



Google – Feb 13, 2015




Yahoo – Oct 7, 1998


Yahoo – Feb 13, 2015


Apple – July 15, 1997

Apple Computer


Apple – Feb 15, 2015




Microsoft – Feb 3, 1999

Welcome to Microsoft's Homepage


Microsoft – Feb 13, 2015

Microsoft Canada | Devices and Services


CBC – Dec 22, 1996

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Website


CBC – Feb 13, 2015 - Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV


Mark Pridham

Mark Pridham is the owner of The Pridham Group, a digital agency based in Saint John, New Brunswick. A life long resident of Saint John, Mark is passionate about design, entrepreneurship, and supporting and promoting local businesses.


  1. Sarah Arrow on February 13, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    google really hasn’t changed much has it? My first website was orange and silver and built in flash… you can guest how that ended up!

    • Mark Pridham on February 13, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Google’s website definitely has not changed much … they’ve always kept it fairly simple and clean. My first website was loaded with animated gifs. Yeah, it was lovely!! 🙂

  2. Claire Brotherton on February 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I love the Wayback Machine – great tool! I remember Yahoo’s page looking like that too, and what a job it was to find anything in those days.

    Interesting that Apple, who we associate with beautiful design, had such an ugly homepage in the 90s. Cluttered layout, and huge white space on the right! What a contrast from today. Though admittedly the technology is a quantum leap forward now.

    • Mark Pridham on February 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      I agree with you that it is a surprise about Apple’s website being somewhat ugly. I think the white space on the right is likely due to the fact that it was designed for 800×600 resolution, which would have been the norm .. or maybe even 600×480, so it wouldn’t have displayed white as bad as it appears here.

  3. Sandy Mangis on February 13, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    I am new to this industry, but thanks for the insight. Its all good education.

    • Mark Pridham on February 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      I wonder what the web will look like in another 15 or 20 years, and if the ones we are creating today will look as bad to the next generation. 🙂

  4. Anthea on February 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    The modern versions look so sleek now but I remember starting out as a web developer in the early 2000’s and thinking how those old site designs were totally cool back then!

    • Mark Pridham on February 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      I agree Anthea. Who can forget those awesome spinning email gifs!! 🙂

  5. […] Today I’ve decided to have a shot at an infographic. This is inspired by a post from the Pridham Group, Website Design – How Far We’ve Come. […]

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