Your Old Crap Website | 90s Web Design

Dredging the internet archives 1996-2001 – Websites then and now

Diet Coke

Posted by monkeon on March 2, 2011

Quite a promise, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Nowadays, we have Google Earth, but in 2000, Diet Coke did not have quite the same resources, and so had to attempt quite a low-brow version.

They did this in two ways. Firstly, Desktop Destinations –

Sounds exciting, but what is it?

*Stares at the picture*
*Gets a bit bored and starts moving icons around*
*Wish you were here*

I’ve had worse holidays. Bournemouth 2002 springs to mind.

If, like me, you were thinking that the desk looks familiar….

It’s this…

So…. what else do Diet Coke have to offer for the online tourist?

Let’s ignore the spelling of “rez”, shall we?

There’s actually a clip of someone enjoying their Quick Escape on YouTube…

Linking disabled, so you have to click here

… which makes me wonder what the secret ingredient is in Diet Coke.

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Ann Summers

Posted by monkeon on February 15, 2011

Viewing the many incarnations of the Ann Summers website over the years, you generally see them go from rather porny to an attempt at respectability…

For example, these are the banners on the site in 2011…

But in 1995…

“Great Jokes”

Meanwhile, in 1996, the site became a portal for the classy Gold Group International, including a mixture of travel (“Individual charter airline.”) and pornography (“Penisology is the ancient art of astrology and psyhic.”), which might be a useful combination should Craig Charles need to travel overseas on one of his “Naughty Friday“s.

By 2000, they developed more the sort of image which they continue to this day with an exciting James Bond themed flash intro which plays at about 5 times the speed of a usual Bond intro.

The only problem I can see here is that the dripping blood might not be quite the sort of subliminal message they would want to project onto people looking to buy sex toys.

Likewise, in the context of Bond and Ann Summers – is this supposed to be a bullet or is it a flying dildo (perhaps one of Odd Job’s)?

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Posted by monkeon on January 4, 2011

Quick usability test for you. Which of the following buttons would you most like to press?

If you are like me, you will have said “The one with the whopping great exclamation mark, of course”.

Perhaps the key as to what the buttons actually mean will help you change your mind?

No, saying not to press something just makes me want to press it more. And where does it take you?

To the website of boyband 911 where, if I was a typical user, I would stay and buy a copy of “Party People” on cassingle, rather than returning to Supergrass’ site where I would have definitely have bought all 3 versions of “Mary” on CD instead.

It’s not just usability where Supergrass went wrong in their 2000 web marketing, another is in their SEO.

There is a trick called “cloaking” in which you provide content just for search engines. It’s likely to get you slapped by search engines if they catch you doing such a thing.

Now let’s go to Supergrass’ shop…

What’s that? A list of keywords. I guess, they could always say it is something else other than cloaking. I don’t know – off the top of my head – the lyrics to a list song in the style of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel. Yes, that will do. But wait…

Oh dear.

At least the record label allowed Supergrass to build their own sub-site, and not worry about all the marketing mumbo jumbo.

Here we discover that someone in the Supergrass camp is skilled in the art of the animated gif…

Now, to play “Caught By The Fuzz” on MIDI and sing along with the gifs.

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Harry Hill

Posted by monkeon on December 18, 2010

Unlike Peter Kay’s site, which went from playful to over-commercialisation as his career took off, Harry Hill has stuck to his roots and kept with a lovely hand drawn site.

In fact, the only bit of commercialisation on the new site is the ability to buy a Souffer, even though buying a Stouffer would probably have been more appropriate to his act in 2001.

(from the current site, not that you could tell)

By featuring video, he was very much ahead of his time in 2001, yet by still featuring them in .mov format, he’s now behind the times in 2010.

Here’s one of the few things which doesn’t still exist on his website – the welcome message:

(click to play)

Anyway, I like his site for being run like a loved old car – adding new bits, but only replacing old ones when they fall off. Stuff has been added, but very little has been removed. More people should try it.

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National Blind Children’s Society

Posted by monkeon on November 29, 2010

If I was to be asked what qualities would be required to make the best 90s website, I would say for sure:

*Blink tags
*Animated gifs
*Pop Ups
*Phillipa Forrester screen caps
*MIDI music

Sadly, most people didn’t think about making people’s ears suffer as much as their eyes, and MIDI was usually ignored.

However, in 1999, the National Blind Children’s Society did think about those fortunate enough not to be able to see the ugly websites of the time and included this button on their homepage.

Anyone curious enough to click it gets to hear some fun MIDI, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the MIDI they have chosen is Robert Miles’ awful Children, which sounds exactly the same as the original.

Click here if you want to hear it.

That said, they did a much worse trick for people who are looking at the site as well as listening to it. They managed to repeatedly use a simple animated gif which constantly niggles as being slightly wrong, and so irritates the mind in exactly the same way as a misplaced apostrophe or seeing Robbie Williams back alongside Take That.

The arrow is going the wrong way! Why have you done that? Why?

Imagine how much that would annoy a pedant if it was placed, for example, alongside a verb wrongly used as a noun:

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Rough Trade

Posted by monkeon on November 10, 2010

Rough Trade fulfil most of the critera for a place on this website.
1) It was around in 1996, so it had no chance of looking nice
2) It’s clearly down to one person learning while they go along
3) It features a really shit animated .gif drawn in MS Paint.

“I was gonna do a big happy xmas kind of thing but just before xmas i was really sick (yes – really sick as in vomiting through my nose………) so i didn’t quite get round to it……but lets see if i can do a happy new year thing instead..if not…happy new year starting now!!!!” is actually the sort of thing Kate Nash would sing about. I wonder if visiting this website is where she got all her ideas? (even though she’d have been 9 at the time)

Certainly, this animated gif has the Nash hair…

If this theory is true, then hopefully Kate might soon be planning on sporting this exciting new look…

“New Rave”

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Posted by monkeon on October 25, 2010

Wrigley used to have both a and a .com site. You can tell which is which by the animations. While the UK one has a javascript rotation of their many types of gum, the .com has a more worldly feel.

“We want to show that we’re a global brand in the form of an animated gif. As literally as possible, please.”

The UK site is certainly friendlier in tone, though. In fact, like David Frost, they feel the need to welcome you three times…

What is particularly mind-blowing about the second welcome is that it changes depending on the time of day due to the cutting edge javascript they have on the page…

Good (early) morning to you too!

There is one more javascript surprise in store for us. But, before we find it, let’s take time out to read a short play that they have kindly hosted.

Obviously, in this play, the “gum” represents smack, and the “Voice Over” represents the voice in the addict’s head, forcing him against his will to try it. With the dramatic pauses, this play has a running time of half an hour.

And now it’s time to leave the site. “But what about our javascript surprise?”, I hear you ask.

Well, the surprise happens when you leave the site, in the form of an unexpected pop up.

I have made a similar thing for the inside of my toilet door.

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Posted by monkeon on October 6, 2010

The designer of the Lexmark site in 2000 was clearly listening in class, because as we all know, the first rule of animated .gif school – if you find how to do a new effect…

… do it again…

… and again.

In fairness, their other attempt at animation was, well, what is it exactly? My guess is that it’s an outtake from some lost Luis Bunuel film*.

(* Congratulations to @poohugh on Twitter for correctly identifying the gap in my artistic knowledge that is On The Beach by Manet)

At their marketing meeting, Lexmark must have considered all possible users of their printers. There are two types of people.

Firstly, look at this tool in a suit…

He’s a man, so he wants a “Professional Printer”, of course.

Now who do Lexmark think should stay at home and want a “Home Printer”?

Let’s find out by looking at what they’ve called the Home Printer page…

And here she is, the woman. Look at Lexmark’s idea of an woman… being an idiot at home. She clearly doesn’t even know what a printer is. She hasn’t even plugged it in. Her husband will do that when he gets home from using his Professional Printer at work.

Ban this sexist filth.

Sorry, I mean…

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Virgin: important .gif update

Posted by monkeon on September 20, 2010

In my initial post, I was distracted by the Winking Branson.

So distracted, in fact, that I failed to do what any logical man would do and click Richard Branson in the face, revealing the wondrous sight which is a Toe-Tapping Branson.

I do like the informal way the image is called “rich.gif”; “It’s mrbranson.gif to you”.

(Thanks to Joe for pointing this out)

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Posted by monkeon on September 6, 2010

I was reading Brian Eno’s diaries he published in the late 90s, and was amused by his hobby of using Photoshop to increase the size of ladies’ arses.

It got me thinking about whether Photoshop really did used to be as limited in scope as I remember it, or have I just got better at using it.

If there’s anyone who will have shown us what state-of-the-art Photoshop work was at the time, then it’s going to be Adobe’s own website.

So, here’s the top 10 crap photoshops from the 1997 Adobe Website…

10. Winky winky winky winky (stop).

For the third time this blog, someone thinks that having an eye wink at you is the ideal way to welcome you to a site. Indeed, it is. From now on, all my designs shall include a cheeky wink or two.

9. Bridging the slacks.

8. A juggler juggling erm… a wedding cake? is it?

7. Cup of brown

6. A letter of resignation from a graphic designer

5. Using MS Paint is cheating, surely?

4. James Bond

3. Away in a Manger

(In fairness, this was part of a kids use Photoshop competition)

2. I thought Roger Whittaker was still alive

1. Lax Headroom

(I suspect what has been photoshopped here is that he initially had no hair at all. They added the front tuft.)

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