Websites Through The Years: Yahoo

After the success of Web Sites Before and After, I decided to start an article series going more in-depth about the various websites. In Websites Through The Years, I’ll be picking some designs and, with the help of the Wayback Machine, going over the various stages of the sites’ lives. We’ll start with Yahoo.

October 17, 1996

This is as far as the Wayback Machine goes. As you can see, Yahoo wasn’t a “portal” like it is today. Back in ’96, it was just a web directory, albeit a very popular directory. Take a look at the design. Reminiscent of Google, with just a logo and a quantity of links, it’s a very simplistic page by today’s standards (being a mid-90s design helps…). Yahoo has since ditched the minimalistic method of design, opting for a more image-heavy design.

January 9, 1997

By the beginning of 1997, Yahoo was still just a web directory, though they’ve put the categories in two columns. They’ve also started cluttering-up the design a little, though it’s still fairly clean.

November 16, 1999

Okay, Yahoo’s started to catch the dreaded “Yahoo Syndrome”. There’s an overabundance of stuff all over the page. As you can see, by ’99 Yahoo had started branching out a little. They had introduced Yahoo Mail, GeoCities, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Shopping, and a ton of other services. However, the navigation wasn’t terribly great.

September 27, 2002

Bit of a difference, eh? This is Yahoo as we know it now, but with a horrible design. I admit to liking it better than the primitive ’90s designs, but not by much. There’s too much crammed onto the page, crummy navigation, and don’t get me started on the code behind it. It’s full of <font> tags! Notice those bulleted lists? They’re not <ul> elements….they’re <br /> tags and • character entities! Take a look at the source, here’s the Wayback page. Oh well, I suppose it is only 2002.

November 16, 2004

Well, the design is better. It’s cleaner and less cluttered. Oh, wait a minute…they’re still using <font> tags? How dare they? It’s the end of 2004! Checking the Wayback Machine, this design is used until July 27, 2006. What design is released then?

Present Design: July 27, 2006 to the Present

Their best design yet. Not too cluttered, decent navigation, and pure CSS layout. Though I’m not a huge fan of Yahoo,I have to admit this is a pretty good design. Today Yahoo is a huge corporation attempting to excel in everything online. Thus, they have lots of “mini-sites” like Yahoo Tech or Yahoo Movies, in which the designs are a bit different. Personally, I think they need to unify their designs a bit more. It’s a little wonky having a different layout for each of their departments.

Before we go, here’s an interesting factoid: On the current design, all of the CSS declarations reside inside <style> tags in the actual HTML. Why? Yahoo is so huge, they decided to save bandwidth by putting the CSS to reduce browser queries. That’s one file being downloaded instead of two. Most people don’t have to worry about that, though.

Well, that’s the end. If you want to browse Yahoo’s design history, fell free to check out Yahoo’s Wayback Machine history.

  • V. Neely

    “They’re still using tags? How dare they? It’s the end of 2004!”

    LOL :) I guess even the bigwigs of the web can be a little slow when it comes to adopting new web standards.

  • V. Neely

    The last comment won’t make sense– I didn’t realize the comments box would interpret the <font> tag literally!

  • Matt

    I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read that first comment. :)
    I checked the source. It seems that it took it literally, and then stripped it out as a security measure. If you view the page source you can see a tab character (or something) in your comment where the tag would have been.

    Yep, the bigwigs sure can be slow to adopt standards. I suppose a lot of it could have had to do with being so large of a site. They wanted to maintain *maximum* compatibility probably.