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5 Things We Can Learn From the Wayback Machine

Are you familiar with the Wayback Machine? If not you are missing out. The Wayback machine is an awesome website that periodically saves snapshots of public websites. This means that there may be old versions of your site out there. And sometimes it is not pretty…

littletechgirl_wayback_machine

When did you create your first stand alone website? I registered this domain in the year 2000. Before I settled on LittleTechGirl.com being what is today it went through changes… changes that I would mostly like to forget. 🙂 But thanks to the power of the Internet, and the hardworking Wayback Machine some versions of our websites are frozen in time… possibly forever! It can be umm… eye-opening!

Here’s a lovely (NOT!) screenshot of the front page of my site saved by the Wayback Machine on June 3, 2003. Click it for a lovely larger image.

littletechgirlcom_june2003

YIKES! There is SO much that I could say about this. Some of the images to the buttons are not showing because the links were broken long ago, but you get the picture. 🙂 Back then despite the domain, my site was about what was going on at that time…. having my first set of twins. Here you see my adorable 2 month old baby girls. And the buttons… oh the lovely buttons! If you want to see those buttons in action, view the Wayback Machine Archive page. Let’s break this down, shall we?

5 Things We Can Learn From the Wayback Machine

Websites Used to Be Really, Really Ugly!

I first learned to build in HTML. It was and is a great thing to know. However, back then unless you were an absolute coding pro sites took on a life of being… well weird and ugly! LOL. Starting out new and building a site from scratch using HTML was a true learning experience! Fortunately, I do not have any examples of my very first HTML sites.

Luckily tools like FrontPage and Dreamweaver came along to help us with our bad site building. The screenshot above was created with the help of FrontPage. They made it super easy to insert huge buttons, patterns, and much more than any site needed! Anyone want FrontPage?? I believe that I still have FrontPage 2003 on a CD around here somewhere. 😀

Even widely popular sites like Mashable needed some help back in the day. In 2005 there wasn’t much to it.

Mashable_wayback

Content Was Not King

For those of us that started blogging before blogging was popular, we were not really worried about people actually reading the posts. We were not worried about being noticed by brands. In my case I installed WordPress just to learn how to use it. I had dabbled with HTML, Drupal, and Movable Type beforehand. I didn’t install it with the thought of running an awesome blog.

Most of us sucked as bloggers when we first got started. Some of my first posts were not even 50 words, and not about anything relevant. I made announcements to my readers like “Hey! I installed a new mobile plugin.” I mean these things were a big deal back then apparently. 🙂 There was a short phase where I gave my husband access to post. He posted “enlightening” posts about what I was eating while pregnant. :\

We had not yet learned the value of posts longer than 400 words, large pretty pictures, hero images, subtitles, and lists. If you were doing this back then you were ahead of the game!! WordPress was not quite as friendly and easy to use as it is now, so we didn’t do much extra work! Boy have we learned!

Big and Flashy Was Better! j0288908

OMG the buttons!!! The animated GIFs were in full effect. Yes, I realize those have made a comeback for some. A personal website circa 2001 consisted of plenty of colorful buttons! And as if the animated GIFs were not enough, counters and online indicators were big time!! There were indicator bars for Yahoo Messenger, AIM, and counters to countdown to baby coming! The more the better.

littletechgirl_wayback2

 

Before Comments There Were Guest Books

Remember guest books??? Every website had one. It’s the only way we knew if folks were looking at our sites. You could host your own guest book, or install one from sites like Tripod and Bravenet. Or if you were really ambitious you would use one of those FREE sites to build your whole website! Think Wix, but nowhere near as *cool*.

Blogrolls Were Cool

We had blogrolls in the sidebar for other bloggers. Sometimes we even had a full page of links to “My Peeps.” Blogrolls have evolved to lists… 5 Female Bloggers that You need to Follow on Twitter, 10 Great Tech Blogs to Read Right Now, etc., etc. These posts are great, but there was something special about holding a permanent spot in your friend’s sidebar!

littletechgirl_wayback_machine_blogroll

 

As you can see websites have come a long, long way! Back then less was never more! In just the past 5 years we have made great strides in web design. In the past we loved colorful widgets, flashy buttons, and guest books. Yes, WordPress was a blessing to websites everywhere! Thank you WordPress Gods!

Head on over to the Wayback Machine and see if you are lucky enough to find an archive of your website. Are you brave enough to share? 🙂

Kris McDonald is Chicago mom to 2 sets of twins, photography nut, gadget addict, travel addict, and tech blogger who has worked in IT for over 16 years. Kris figured out a while ago that she was destined to be really busy (hence the 2 sets of twins), and she has found peace with that. Read More
  • I love WayBack Machine. It is shocking when you see how ugly sites used to be. Thank goodness flashy icons are no longer in style. I also like how you can sometimes read long lost items off of it.

  • You are BRAVE. I don’t even want to remember what my site looked like 13 years ago! LOL!

  • You already know I want Frontpage back! I still think my early websites were super cool!

    • Yeah they were cool… then! Fortunately technology kept moving on and sites got better!! 🙂 That’s why Microsoft doesn’t even make or support FrontPage anymore.

      Come up to the 21st Century Grasshopper 😀