Aol over the years

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A site that I like to look at often is aol.com. I remember a long time ago when my parents bought our family’s first computer, and we used aol screen names for the internet and had to pay for it. It’s crazy to think how much things have changed in such a little amount of time. I mean, to us, 15-20 years seems like a long time, but when you consider the time-line of the earth, 15-20 years is like the period at the end of this sentence (actually probably smaller). I really liked this assignment because I didn’t even know a website like this existed, and now I’m probably going to be addicted to the wayback machine. I also really enjoyed this assignment, because, like I explained earlier, it was interesting to see the drastic change that has taken place in such a small amount of time.

This is aol.com in December of 1996. It looks likea pretty general, pretty boring screen. There aren’t many pictures and there aren’t many different sections of text, they are just kind of all in one column. But the interesting thing is that this would have been, visually, a well made website. So yeah, I guess I would describe it as pretty bad at this point in time, but there are a few good things about it. It’s got that whole header and icon at the top thing, which I think carries over to many websites today.


Here it is in July 2000. As you can see, it gets a little more colorful in 2000. You can see the navigation buttons at the top that are still present on many websites today. Even though the ads aren’t showing up, there seem to be a few more ads in this one as well. The design seems to be getting better, however, it is still missing some key things that make good websites today, like a variety of pictures and the screens that flip through top stories.

Here it is in October 2005. It gets even better and more user friendly in 2005. We start to see more headline photographs and the information sections are divided up. That’s because there is more information on the page in 2005 than in 2000 and 1996, which I think is an improvement. But when you look at this one compared to the future pages, you still see that there is some room for improvement. The pages aren’t customized and there are no videos.

And here it is in April 2010. And finally we arrive at a pretty up to date web page design. The things this one has that I like are the personalized backgrounds and there is a video. I know I might sound picky because I just complained that the previous websites didn’t have enough information, however, I also believe that there is such a thing as too much information and I feel like that is what we have come to in 2010. The websites are throwing too much information on a page and it gets confusing.

It was interesting for me to see the change in the website over time. The shift from such a plain, boring website to a well laid out website that is very interactive. There were things I didn’t like about the old website and there are things about the new website that I still don’t like, but I think the constant feedback from consumers keeps the designs constantly changing and they will do nothing but get better and better over time.

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