With The World Wide Web recently celebrating it 25th anniversary, I've decided to take a trip down memory lane to recall the memories I have of growing up with web design as one of my major hobbies. It was a time when you could get to the top of search engines by spamming keywords and when having animated gifs and flash on your website meant you were the envy of your peers.
1) Building my first Geocities website
I was really into Final Fantasy games at the time and when I first got connected to the Internet I used to love visiting all of the different fansites which used to be pretty prevalent back then. I decided that I wanted to create my own. The only problem was I didn't know how. Enter Geocities website builder.
My first Geocities website was a Final Fantasy IX fansite complete with a cutting edge design and yahoo search widget. Visit it here
It all seemed so simple. Drag and drop elements onto the page, add the copy, make it looks pretty with a big banner and lots of animated gifs and there you have it... a fully functional website! Looking back my website was pretty embarrassing, but the great thing about Geocities was that so was everyone else's!
2) Joining a topsite
Topsites would pit websites against each other and rank them based on incoming hits, however in the early days it was easy to exploit as they were governed by page views rather than unique hits. Not ideal.
So I had my own Geocities website and was feeling pretty great about how many visitors I was getting. After all my counter was in triple figures, which back then seemed like a lot. What better way to boost my ego then signing up for a topsites and show everyone else just how awesome my website - full of animated gifs and under construction pages - truly was?
3) Getting excited because somebody has signed my guestbook
Guestbooks were a way for visitors to leave feedback on your website. They were usually 3rd party widgets with their own colour schemes which would stick out like a sore thumb.
There you have it, actual proof that an actual person has visited my website. Never mind that the guestbook entry was usually either spam, nonsensical or an advertisement to visit another Geocities website. All that matters was that I was clearly making waves across the web.
4) Creating a free message board
This was an actual forum of mine built on the then popular Ezboard service. No "webmaster" could truly be taken seriously unless they had an Ezboard!
I used to be pretty active on a number of message boards and always used to be jealous of how much "power" the moderators and administrators would hold over us regular members. If I could build my own message board I would be the one making the rules. I would be the one wielding absolute power. Little did I know that it was one thing to build a message board and another to build a community.
5) Getting to grips with HTML
HTML was difficult for my 14 year old mind to comprehend. To the untrained eye it was just random gobbledygook.
For the longest time I had no idea what HTML truly even was. To me it was just some text generated when I was drawing my website in the then Macromedia Dreamweaver. It was only when I got a little curious did I realise how by learning HTML I could make the websites I wanted to make without any of the limitations imposed by WYSIWYG editors.
As fun as it was, this journey to web self sufficiency wasn't without its bumps. Looking back at my code all I can see is a quagmire of unclosed tags, random divs (called layers back then) and misaligned tables. Web semantics eat your heart out!