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Concepts of 90s Internet

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World Wide Web[edit]

Covering everything we remember about using the World Wide Web in the 1990s.


A webring (or web ring) is kind of like a directory of common themed websites which could be navigated in a ring fashion, as in having the ability to move backwards or forwards in the ring of member sites. Webrings were used to help viewers find similar sites within their interests as early search engines would not always return the most relevant results.

Web Site Awards[edit]

Seems like just a marketing gimmick, but you would sometimes see award badges listed on a website indicating they're part of a "best of the web" club. There was really nothing stopping a person from making their own award and having other sites link back to them from the site badge.

Animated GIFs[edit]

Looking back at old Geocities sites, you'll probably find at least one animated GIF on a 90s website. GIF animation was applied to all sorts of image types such as site logos, navigation images, list bullets, etc.

HTML Frames[edit]

The use of frames in websites allowed for a way to split aspects such as your site's navigation menu into a different screen partition. In some cases site designers would go overboard and use too many frames on a site resulting in a poor UI experience especially with smaller resolutions. Many people disliked frames, and some older browsers wouldn't display them properly so some web designers would create two versions of their site; one with frames and one without.

Guest Books[edit]

These were more commonly found on personal websites. A visitor to your personal website was like a friend dropping by your house. If your personal site focused on an interest such as a specific TV show or video game, visitors seeking out your page likely shared the same interest. Having the ability to leave a friendly message was a popular way to have your visitors interact with you.

Image Maps[edit]

When images are used for site navigation links, an image map would split a single image into different link targets based on the mouse click co-ordinates. This design element does still have modern practical use but you'll likely see few instances of it used for site navigation purposes.

Intro Pages[edit]

This is when the root index page of a website contained an image and/or link to "enter" the main content area. This wasn't overly popular but did become annoying with the use of Flash dynamic content, requiring you to manually skip or wait out an intro animation.

Hit Counters[edit]

Often this would be displayed in image format and would be the total number of views to a website. Basic counters wouldn't track unique views so you could keep reloading the page to increase the counter.

Browser/Resolution Compatibility[edit]

Some browsers didn't play nicely with others, and website designers also had to account for fitting content within small resolutions such as 640x480. You would likely often see badges at the bottom of sites indicating what browser the site was best viewed with, and in some cases it would specify a recommended screen resolution.

Background Music[edit]

This was more common for personal type websites. Browsers of the time would allow for MIDI files to be automatically played upon website load.

Under Construction[edit]

Personal web sites in the 90s were new and exciting. Once you secured hosting for your site, it wasn't uncommon to throw a basic HTML page up with a notice/image indicating your new home is under construction.