Back to the Future: Lessons Learned on April Fools

April Fools homepageFor the third year now, our office has done an April Fools homepage. This year’s was simple: roll the homepage back to the first-ever homepage for the University, first published in 1996.

It was surprisingly simple to pull off as well, since the actual file was still (!) on the central Web server. All I did was update the links to the current URLs and add a wonderfully cheese-tastic animated “NEW!” gif and we were good to go.

Teasing my way through the code to make those few small changes turned out to be more difficult than it should have been for such a simple site. Under the hood of what is basically a header image, a list, and two paragraphs is a nest of nested tables, <center> tags, spacer gifs (remember those?) and all-around ridiculousness that just screamed, “man, what were we thinking!” Add to this behind-the-scenes nonsense the grainy top montage gif, the┬ábeveled┬áborders and horizontal rules and you have a pretty good snapshot of the state of the Web 15 years ago. All that’s missing is a tiling background image and an “Under Construction” graphic.

This got me to thinking: what are we doing NOW that is brimming over with wrong? What will we look back on 15 years from now and say, “wow, that’s hilarious. What were we thinking? This is so 2011!”

  • Glossy buttons
  • Rounded corners
  • Tag clouds
  • jQuery content sliders in the top third
  • Square photos
  • “Hey, remember when you had to use a mouse to physically move a cursor over a link? Weren’t they made out of plastic or something?”
  • “It was like every site wanted you to create another account, another login, another password. It was a nightmare.”
  • “Man, you have no idea. The content management system was separate from the events calendar, which was separate from the online directory, which was separate from the catalog. It was insane.”
  • “What’s a content management system?”

Any others?

2 comments

  1. JR says:

    It looks like Hulu copied your idea.

  2. LoriPA says:

    JR: I saw that one yesterday, too. Very cool. They also had the grainy gifs, but went with the added touches of the marquee tag and a GeoCities graphic. Nice!

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