What 32 Popular Sites Used to Look Like

What 32 Popular Sites Used to Look Like


It’s no secret that website design trends (and best practices) have changed dramatically since the internet’s debut. Reflecting on nostalgic websites and comparing them to their present-day counterparts is an excellent way to understand why updating your site is so necessary

Coworkers in their office looking at nostalgic websites for inspiration to rework theirs.

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With the help of the Wayback Machine, we can see what our favorite websites looked like in years past.  Whether you’re planning a website redesign and could use some inspiration, or you’d enjoy reflecting on nostalgic websites, we’ve rounded up 32 sites to peruse.

1) Google

Nostalgic websites: Image shows Google homepage from 1998 side by side with 2022 Google homepage.

While Google essentially maintains its branding with its colorful logo and whitespace on the homepage, there are other aspects of the site that look entirely different today. In the 1990s, Google had unique offerings underneath the search bar. Today, the company leans into creating a personalized homepage for users by bookmarking their frequently visited websites.

Nostalgic websites: Apple. Image shows 2001 Apple homepage and 2022 homepage.

Apple always takes a product-centric approach to its homepage. Even in 2001, you’ll notice that the company’s items were the website’s primary focus. In 2022, Apple chooses to keep branding minimal yet distinctive. It features just one product to make the center focus of the homepage. The current homepage is also a testament to compelling copy; in just three adjectives, Apple paints a complete picture of why you should get an iPad.

Nostalgic websites: Microsoft's homepage in the 2000s and 2022 are compared.

In 2000, Microsoft’s website was clunky and over-complicated. The abundance of words on the website and lack of whitespace made for an overwhelming user experience. Today, Microsoft’s site takes a cue from Apple and centers on its products. The site, as a result, is less dizzying and more digestible for visitors.

Nostalgic websites: Mashable in 2005 compared to Mashable homepage in 2022.

Once upon a time, Mashable had a gradient background — not to mention a serious lack of imagery. Now, the site balances visuals with text. The company branding also no longer takes center stage and focuses on featured stories.

Nostalgic websites: HubSpot in 2006 is shown next to HubSpot's homepage in 2022.

In 2006, the tech and marketing world was focused heavily on surviving and succeeding in a web 2.0 world. Small businesses were popping up worldwide, and HubSpot’s website was focused on showing how the product could add value for these companies. Today, HubSpot still caters to small businesses but also medium and enterprise corporations. Now, our website focuses more on the product and features a lot more color than it initially did.

Nostalgic websites: Buzzfeed's homepage in 2006 is compared to 2022's. Both feature text, but 2006 features significantly more.

BuzzFeed was created to help users find their favorite things, including movies, music, fashion, ideas, and technology. The site still achieves this with a more visual and interactive approach. Today, the website balances images and text more seamlessly, but the site’s overall feel is still intact.

Nostalgic websites: The White House homepage in 2000 compared to 2022. In 2000 you see a picture of the whitehouse itself and in 2022 you see President Biden getting his coronavirus vaccine.

In 2000, Bill Clinton was the President of the United States, Al Gore was Vice President, and the White House’s website had a very different look and feel. Then, the website featured a Declaration of Independence-esque script font and didn’t emphasize imagery — or storytelling, considering the text just welcomed visitors to the page. When you visit the site today, you’ll notice a large image and copy that focuses on current initiatives. We also love how the refreshed site focuses on accessibility with options to change the text contrast and size. 

Nostalgic websites: TED. Left features early 2000s website homepage and right side features 2022. There are more images in 2003 than there are on the 2022 homepage.

Though TED’s 2003 website still looks outdated by today’s standards, it was ahead of its time, with most of the homepage featuring visual content. In 2022, their site still features various images but also balances copy — and there’s only one main image above the fold. The site’s overall feel today is less cramped and overwhelming than it was in years past.

Nostalgic websites: Skype. Left shows the old website homepage and the right side shows the present.

In the early 2000s, Skype’s homepage featured several colors and lacked hierarchy. (And who knew the video call platform once had a red logo?) Today, Microsoft owns Skype, and the latter takes a cue from the larger organization’s look and feel. The site features whitespace, excellent visual hierarchy, and offers a compelling image of the product in action.

Nostalgic websites: AOL. Left side shows AOL in 2000, right side shows AOL in 2022.

In 2000, AOL’s site had a variety of colors that weren’t cohesive, ultimately making the site appear messy. Today, the site features enough whitespace to balance the amount of copy and imagery it has. We’re also fond of the site’s new font, as it’s visually appealing and easy to read.

Nostalgic websites: ASK. On the left it shows the site before the rebrand and on the right you'll see the site after.

Ask Jeeves rebranded as Ask. In 2000, the site lacked whitespace and featured a character — part of the site’s unique branding. Since dropping the second half of the name, there’s no longer a character on the site’s homepage. Today, the site looks much more like a news or publication site than a platform to ask questions and get quick answers.

Nostalgic websites: Blockbuster. Left: shows the website in the 1990s during the company's prime. The right shows the website now, in 2022.

Remember the good old days of going to Blockbuster to pick out your movie and grab a few snacks? We sure do. What Blockbuster’s 1996 site lacked in hierarchy, it made up for in personality. Today, Blockbuster’s site is out of commission — and features a cheeky note that the company is working on rewinding your movie.

Nostalgic websites: Coca Cola. Left features their site from 2000 which is remarkably ahead of its time. The right features the site from 2022.

We’ll give it to Coca-Cola: Their branding is timeless. Coca-Cola’s website from 2000 doesn’t look too shabby compared to many of the outdated websites on this list.  The brand understood the importance of visual content and simplicity in 2000, and they still do today. In 2022, their site focuses more on imagery and features less red than in the past, but it still feels cohesive with the rest of their branding.

Nostalgic website: Pepsi. Website on the left is from the 2000s, the website on the right is the homepage from 2022.

Pepsi’s site in 2000 was cluttered, lacked visual hierarchy, and had too much going on. Today, we’re huge fans of Pepsi’s nostalgic homepage. It features a font that’s easy to read, plus the site doesn’t feel too cluttered. The company has also since moved its menu to the top of the page and cut back on how many tabs there are which is much better from a user experience standpoint. 

Nostalgic websites: Macy's. Left side shows Macy's from 2000 and the right side shows Macy's in 2022.

While Macy’s 2000 website doesn’t conform to today’s standards, we appreciate how cohesive the colors are. Interestingly, products aren’t at the forefront of Macy’s nostalgic site. Today, however, the Macy’s website tells an extremely different story. The website has a neatly organized menu and excellent visual hierarchy.

Nostalgic websites: Amazon. Image to the left shows the site in 1999 and image to the right shows Amazon in 2022.

In 1999, Amazon’s website was highly text-heavy, making it dizzying to look at. The vertical menu was also cluttered and difficult to digest. Today, Amazon’s menu appears on the top of the page, and the site seems significantly less overwhelming despite the fact that it still advertises various products. 

Nostalgic websites: Yahoo. On the left is the homepage in the 1990s, on the right is the homepage now.
In 1999, Yahoo’s website focused mainly on text and featured no imagery. Today, a very different story is told when you visit the platform’s site. Because Yahoo is a news site, there are images to accompany every story, plus a summary of what you can expect when you read the piece. We’re also a fan of the trending column on the right side of the site, as it makes it easy for users to understand what’s in the news at a glance.

Nostalgic websites: Tumblr. Site on the left is from 2007 when the platform was in its infancy, the right shows the homepage now.

In its infancy, Tumblr referred to blogs as Tumblelogs and had a text-centric website. Today, if you visit Tumblr while not logged in, you’ll see a mock dashboard that shows visitors what theirs could look like if they create an account. Today’s Tumblr site is also significantly more image-focused.

Remember when Pinterest was invite-only? As you can see from the screengrab of the 2010 Pinterest site, the platform had a completely different logo and a less sleek appearance. If you visit Pinterest today, you can create an account instantly — no request necessary. In addition, the platform features a live image that changes yet loads quickly. The copy is simple yet compelling.

nostalgic-websites-REDDIT

In 2005, Reddit was all about text. Reddit is still more text-focused than most modern sites. However, it does feature a balance of images. We like how the font Reddit uses today is still semi-nostalgic but is easier to read than it has been in the past. The site is also more visually compelling as it appears more like a news site.

Nostalgic websites: Barnes and Noble. Left features B&N's older website, the right side features Barnes and Noble's site today.

You’re probably starting to notice a theme at this point: The websites of years past were text-focused. Barnes & Noble is no exception. In 2000, the bookseller had a dense, visually unappealing vertical menu. The images took a long time to load — if they did. There’s also a lack of visual hierarchy, so it’s difficult for visitors to decide where to look. Today, the company’s site is significantly more digestible. It balances whitespace with imagery and text, and the designers cleaned the menu up.

Nostalgic websites: Dunkin. The left features an early 2000s version of the website's homepage, and 2022 shows the present version in 2022.

We’ll hand it to Dunkin’: They’ve stayed true to their signature color scheme for decades. This screengrab from their site in the 2000s is one of our favorites on this list. It’s shockingly minimalistic and features an image that wasn’t standard for the time. Today, Dunkin’ has plenty of whitespace, features cohesive branding, and balances graphics with the copy. The website also has an easy-to-follow menu and includes the company’s striking pink and orange colors. 

Nostalgic websites: Starbucks in 2000 versus Starbucks in 2022. In the 2000 version, the images do not load.

In 2000, Starbucks got a few things right: Their menu is straightforward, and they featured images on their site, though they didn’t load. (Psst: These plugins can help ensure your content loads quickly if you have a “heavy” page so your website avoids a similar fate.) You’ll also notice their consistent logo. In 2022, Starbucks effortlessly offers a pop of color on its site without overwhelming visitors. The site features Starbucks’ signature font and includes an image promoting a recent collaboration with another company. The image itself also feels on-brand. We also want to call out Starbucks’ sparse yet effective navigation at the top of the page.

Nostalgic websites: Walmart. The past version of the Walmart website is shown next to its 2022 counterpart.

For its time, Walmart’s site in 2002 was quite successful. It featured images and text which still dominate the website today. In addition, it had a better visual hierarchy than some of the other examples we’ve investigated. Similar to Dunkin’, one thing that Walmart does incredibly well is translating its famous color scheme to its site. In 2022, Walmart’s website has plenty of imagery and concise copy that enhances the graphics.

Nostalgic websites: Target. On the left you see Target's site in 2004 and 2022 on the right.

There are also plenty of things Target got right in 2004. For one, the brand used its well-known color scheme. The site features images, too, and its branding is still largely the same. In 2022, Target’s site puts a much larger emphasis on visuals than it does on text. The branding is minimal yet effective, and the site features a simple menu that expands when visitors click on it. 

Nostalgic websites: NYTimes. On the left, the NYTimes from 2000 and on the right, its 2022 counterpart. Both resemble a physical newspaper.

We’re impressed: While New York Times has reworked its website since 2000, the website is remarkably similar. Even in 2000, figuring out where to direct attention was easy. The New York Times scores major points because its 2022 website resembles a newspaper. It features visual hierarchy, balances images with copy well, and we like how the font is distinctive yet easy to read. 

Nostalgic websites: Lay's. Left features an image of the 2008 site and the right features an image of the 2022 site. The left has green background and poor text contrast the right features Lay's well-known yellow color.

In 2008, Lay’s website was green and featured very poor text color contrast. This makes it difficult for people to read the copy. Luckily, Lay’s has since reworked its site. Today, it’s still colorful but features better contrast. You’ll also notice the site has plenty of Lay’s illustrious yellow. The 2022 site seems far more on-brand than it has in the past. 

Nostalgic websites: McDonald's. The left image is from 2001 and features a red background and yellow text. The right image is McDonald's present homepage.

In 2001, McDonald’s website featured a red background and yellow text, which wasn’t exactly optimal for readers. Now, McDonald’s site is minimalist. It features few colors aside from the brand’s distinct yellow and offers a variety of options for visitors to select from on the menu section. However, the menu isn’t overwhelming because the rest of the website is so straightforward. The brand also taps its signature font for the 2022 website. 

Nostalgic Websites: Sephora. The image on the left is Sephora's website in the early 2000s and the right is from 2022.

Sephora’s website in the early 2000s featured a balance of images and text. For its time, it was an example of a compelling website design. Today, the site adheres to modern web design trends. It has large images that are visually appealing and includes  straightforward copy. 

Nostalgic websites: Netflix. On the left is the 2005 homepage and on the right is the 2022 homepage.

In 2005, Netflix featured an image-focused homepage, which is quite different from today. In 2022, copy is the star of the show on Netflix’s homepage. The company also cleverly places a call to action at the center, so you’ll provide your email address and get started. In both 2004 and 2022, the main focus of the homepage was a call to action, which is noteworthy. We like the image in the background, which the text overlays as it features shows and movies you can enjoy with a Netflix subscription.

Nostalgic websites: eBay. On the left is eBay's homepage in 2004 and on the right is eBay's homepage in 2022.

In the early 2000s, there was a lack of hierarchy on eBay’s site, which made it tricky for visitors to understand where to begin. This is also detrimental from a user experience standpoint. That has since changed, however. In 2022, eBay has a carousel above the fold on its site. It features a few products and promotions the company is currently offering. The site also features more whitespace than in the past, and the menu is paired back by comparison.

Nostalgic websites: Burger King. The left side of the image shows the nostalgic homepage from 2006 and the right side of the image shows the 2022 update.

In 2006, Burger King did feature a primary image on their site. The menu was also at the top of the site, but the font was difficult to read. In 2022, Today, Burger King features a neutral background and keeps the focus on its imagery. Copy is sparse yet effective. In addition, the company uses a font that offers a pop of personality yet is readable.

Take Site Redesign Inspiration from These Nostalgic Websites

If you’re seeking inspiration for your site redesign, look at these nostalgic websites to get an idea of how you can rework your landing page. These nostalgic websites prove that by using your unique branding, balancing images and text, and including a clear visual hierarchy, your site will look great for years to come.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. 

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