A nostalgic look at old websites

INOSOFT AG looks back on three decades of Internet presence

Today, having a website is a matter of course for even the smallest company. Several trillion pages are buzzing around the World Wide Web. Thirty years ago, having your own website was still something extraordinary. In 1996, there were just about 250,000 of them worldwide. INOSOFT in Marburg put its first homepage online back then - quite natural for an IT company. And if you like, you can now take a look at this original website on the occasion of the company anniversary.

Around 30 years ago, a website looked completely different to today, it often only consisted of a single image, possible news was hidden somewhere and it took an eternity to set up such a site - you could go for a smoke in that time, says Mark Behrendt, now Head of Consulting at INOSOFT, who was an intern at the company at the time and as such was tasked with creating the first website.

I just tried things out, neither the tools nor the approach were particularly professional, recalls Behrendt. It was a case of learning by doing. He presented "countless versions" to Thomas Winzer, co-founder and current CEO of INOSOFT, until he was satisfied. In the past, websites were like a digital brochure that was transferred one-to-one and often remained the same for years, says Behrendt. A website was something like a better business card, and little thought was given to user experience on the site. However, we wanted additional value right from the start, changed the pages regularly and incorporated interactive elements early on. For example, users could color a picture themselves and post it in a kind of public gallery, recounts Behrendt.

Over the years, design and technology were increasingly geared towards the needs of the users. While INOSOFT's first website, still created purely in HTML, was built like a series of articles, the second one from 2000 already contained dynamic pages, i.e. the visitor could interact. We created databases that ran in the background and on the basis of which queries could be made, explains Behrendt. This was well received by visitors. At the time, it was still necessary to adapt the websites to the different browsers so that they could be displayed properly. Every major change was a huge effort, recalls Behrendt.

From 2010, graphic elements and images increasingly came to the fore and visualization set the tone. The underlying technologies are now HTML5 and CSS. This opened up completely new possibilities for us, explains Behrendt. Attractive design and user-friendliness are the focus of web design. Gone are the days of rigid pages with typewriter-style fonts, and gone are the adaptations to different browsers.

With the increase of smartphones and tablets around 2015, web designers are facing new challenges: mobile versions of websites are needed for every device and every screen size. "Responsive" is the magic word.

Responsive design means that a website automatically adapts to the screen size of the device being used to access it, explains Behrendt. This also applies when the device is rotated from vertical to horizontal. A good user experience on all mobile devices is a matter of course for INOSOFT, but it is still far from standard,  he adds. There are still many companies that have not kept up with the trends.

Behrendt describes the development from the "historical" to the current website with a comparison between a bicycle and a truck: Both vehicles, but completely different.

If you would like to see for yourself and visit the old versions of the INOSOFT websites from past decades, you can access the old pages at www.INOSOFT.de/retro.

Marburg, 19. December 2023

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