user interface means everything: how 20 top websites looked when they first launched

The popular social networking site Facebook (then, The Facebook) when it first launched in 2004.

The popular social networking site Facebook (then, "The Facebook") when it first launched in 2004.

technology changes quickly, and the internet changes perhaps more frequently and rapidly than any technology. so i was reminded of my technological age when is read this article in the uk’s telegraph, which surveys what twenty of the top internet sites looked like when they first launched.

it reminded me of a couple of rules in technology:

  1. even the best websites must be willing to change over time
  2. the first idea is not always the best idea
  3. the last idea is not always the best idea
  4. gui (graphical user interface, or how a site looks and feels) is incredible important. if a user can’t find or do what he wants or if she doesn’t feel comfortable on a site, the user won’t like it – no matter how well the site performs.
  5. the more documentation a site needs, the less intuitive it is. think to yourself: how many times have you read help articles of faqs in the help or support section for drudge report? google? even facebook? if a website needs a lot of help documentation, the site isn’t intuitive enough.

take a look at the sites and see what they have in common. some haven’t changed much. some have changed tremendously. all are easier to use than moodle. ;-) and i am forced to remember: even though i’ve worked in technology for a while, there is always some young kid with some better idea that knows it better than i do.

to see the other 19 websites, read here.

(with thanks for the tip to stephen smuts.)

2 Responses

  1. For us, this is a bit like a ‘walk down memory lane’ isn’t it?

  2. yes, and a very scary one at that. i remember joining facebook when it was ‘thefacebook’ and when it was only a few universities.

    sigh.

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