Then and Now: What Did the Internet Look Like

Some popular local, governmental, and national company websites and how they have evolved.

Many companies come to us with no idea of what they want their website design to look like. We run through an exercise with most clients with the goal of extracting a design style that fits with what they're trying to express about their company. But we always remind clients: design, colors, and logos can (and should) evolve over time. Take a look at these companies and entities, and check out how their websites have evolved.


Before Uber's recent redesign, there were several other versions of the website. Look how the site has evolved from looking like a local limo company to the current site of a multi-billion dollar giant that has virtually changed how the world sees transit. before Uber

Before “uber” was “Uber”–we're hoping this company got a lot of money for the web address! in 2011

When Uber existed solely in the Bay area, the site had a local-limo company feel to its design. in 2015

The company is now a billion dollar brand, extending into all corners of the globe. in 2016

Today's iteration of uber is multi-color, hosts video, and pushes to be transportation for everyone, everywhere.


This one is interesting. Sometimes you find an aesthetic that works early on. Sure there have been some changes and updates, but overall, the site has the same look and feel today as it did in 2000. in 2000

Sure, there have been a lot of updates to since this design was captured in May, 2000. But think about how the internet has changed in 16 years–this design still feels like the Amazon we know and love today. in 2016

See? Not so different.


This site has gone through so many changes. We talked about Yahoo in a previous blog about rebranding–the website has seen as many changes as the logo. For the most part, the site has improved immensely with each redesign. in 2016

We don’t remember thinking was a mess in 1997–but looking back, this screen shot certainly dates the early search engine and news site. in 2016

Considering there is a college freshman age-spread between these two screen-shots, there isn’t a vast improvement. Still void of brand personality, and trying to be too much–and too little–all at one time.


Another example of “if it works, don’t fix it.” has never tried to portray themselves as anything other than what they are–online classifieds. The website is built purely for functionality. They have certainly made some improvements to the UI, but overall the site has remained the same. in 2016 in 2016

Whether you think it’s a good or a bad thing, there are very few differences here–given the 16-year time difference.

This one goes back to when the internet was just making its way into government and websites served as more of an online database or catelogue than a way to share information.

Whitehouse.giv in 1997

This image conjures memories of a card catalogue.

Whitehouse.giv in 1997

With clean navigation and great use of simple messaging through images and video, this is an excellent example of a website as a communication tool.

City of Chicago

Locals may or may not remember this version of the City of Chicago site from 2004. We’re hoping you don’t. Just a fun example of what local municipalities deemed quality web design in the early 2000s.

City of Chicago website in 2004

This image of the City of Chicago’s website from 12 years ago was standard for the time–and looks like an average small municipality’s website today.

City of Chicago website in 2004

Fitting all of the information and messaging into a city website is hard. actually has a pretty good layout and design to optimize communication of important news, and ease of finding important municipality information.