Websites Through The Years: CNet

Welcome back to Websites Through The Years! Today we tackle CNet, one of the oldest tech sites. We’ll start with the earliest design the Wayback Machine could find: October 1996.

October 22, 1996

Nothing says “90s” like a design like that! Okay… The yellow is a little hard on the eyes, but other than that it’s not too bad for the ’90s. My biggest complaint: Their shameless touting of Internet Exploder, er Explorer. Obviously I maniacally support Mozilla Firefox (download now, quantities are unlimited!).

November 17, 1999

Well, this is a little better. The header looks nice, though the content area looks a bit wrong. They have their Tech News off in a sidebar, while the navigations to various departments takes-up the main column. Shouldn’t it be the reverse?

May 26, 2001

They’ve switched from a liquid layout (tables) to a fixed design. This design is a bit better than the previous. A little bit of new content at the top, the “CNet Services” bit was carried over from the old design, and the header has definitely improved. There’s less yellow too. The only major problem is the “ latest stories” box on the right-hand sidebar. You can’t read it! The blue links don’t contrast enough against the dark background. That’s the kind of stupid mistake I hate seeing. How can you overlook that?

November 14, 2002

This design looks a bit more interesting. Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine is missing a large image in the header. I think it’s safe to assume that it was a yellow gradient that would site behind “”. The design looks pretty good, and they’re using some stylesheets finally (though the layout is still done with tables). No <font> tags, unlike a certain site that was using them up until 2006

December 15, 2004

AAAAARGH!! The yellow is back! Other than that, it’s not too bad. Again, the Wayback Machine is exhibiting one of it’s bugs. There should be a large banner ad to the right of the CNet logo, and a small square advertisement below the search box (see the gray bar in with the yellow?). Despite some minor tweaks, the design stays pretty much the same until August 2006.

August 20, 2006

This design is another fixed-width layout, though it’s designed for a 1024×768 resolution this time. It’s starting to look a bit more like the current design. I like their little “image-ticker” thing (I always forget what it’s called), though it’s not exactly the best of thing to put in such a prominent place. Personally, I’d have put a preview of the most recent article (and accompanying image) there.

October 18, 2006 to Present

I like the current design. There’s barely any yellow, the content is nicely layed-out, and the search tool is prominently displayed at the top. The navigation is great as well. The tabs along the top look cool, and offer upper-level navigation. Then there are some slick expanding menus off to the left side. This CSS layout is designed pretty well.

  • V. Neely

    They seem to experiment with green, too. I think it’s a Hotdog Theme: Mustard, ketchup, and relish.

  • Matt

    Yeah, maybe. Who’s the maniac who came up with that shade of yellow in some of the older designs, though?