The Wayback Machine

I can't quite remember who told me about this, but it is quite possibly one of the coolest URL's on the web. "The Wayback Machine" at archive.org stores cached pages of the net allowing you to view websites as they were at multiple points in time.

As the webdesigner for my company, it was fun to go back and see the evolution of our web presence.

For example in 1998, I took a Front Page class and developed our very first site from a Microsoft Template. Looking back on it almost ten years later, it seems primative, but at the time, this was cutting edge stuff.

Remember that bandwidths were slow back then, so images were small and there was tons and tons of text. I remember that almost every white paper we had ever written was typed into html. (This was exciting because it was searchable!)

In 2000, we became more polished graphically. Version 2.0 of our site had images on the home page that changed when you hovered over them.

Our former tag line...define, design, deliver...has been copied by at least two other firms. (We could stand and defend that turf--courtesy of the Wayback Machine--but quite honestly, we've outgrown the phrase because it is so linear. It does nothing to communicate our interactive approach to designing venues that create an experience.)

In 2003, we divided our website by markets allowing us to customize our story for different audiences. This allowed us to promote a wider range of services to our church clients without treading on the theatre consultants turf in performing arts. It also led us to tailor information to the things people really cared about. For example, our sports clients are much more interested in HD video than our performing arts clients, and performing arts clients place a much higher value on acoustics.

In 2006, we morphed our website again to create more value for users. The INNOVATION section contains interactive tools and "how to" articles specific to the different markets. Architects and the press can grab images and information at any time of day in whatever format is convenient for them. Projects are viewable geographically through Google maps.

As we continue to build the site, the conversation focuses on developing tools that are useful and making the site far more than an electronic brochure.

The Wayback Machine is an easy place to get lost in. I've been able to catch glimpses of design work I've done for organizations I've volunteered for and contract jobs I've taken. The beauty of the web is that it is continually growing and changing. I'm glad archive.org decided to create a scrapbook along the way.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall