Thanks to the magic of the Wayback Machine (a.k.a. the Internet Archive, but we like saying "Wayback Machine" instead because it sounds like we actually traveled through time to bring you these images), you can see what just about any website once looked like at just about any given point in time. Some websites, sadly, haven't changed at all since their inception, while others -- like ours -- have undergone dramatic changes over the years, mostly for the best.
Below are screenshots from the Houston Press website from 1999 to 2009. For larger sizes, simply click on the image. What a difference a decade makes.
We start out in 1999, when the website was extremely text heavy, with very few graphics to speak of. What few pictures there were haven't withstood the test of time or digital degradation, as you can see above. And just like many websites of its day, the designers didn't fully understand that they could use all of the screen space, not just place all of the content into one elongated column. Sadly, some platforms still adhere to this design ideology (we're looking at you, Blogger).
Except for a banner alteration, not much changed in the years after that...
The 2000 version of the website saw a new banner color and no detectable damage from the dreaded Y2K meme.
In 2001, we were promoting our Best of Houston ® issue and -- God only knows why -- the trifecta of crap playing at your local cinema. (Full disclosure: We had completely forgotten that either The Replacements or Coyote Ugly existed prior to pulling up this screenshot.)
2002 saw the website undergo a dramatic transformation from vertical and text-heavy to horizontal and balanced. Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer this clean look the most of all our past incarnations. Plus, there's that creepy hand doctor story we love so much...
For the next couple of years, the website remained virtually unchanged, save the juicy personal ad you can see on the 2003 version of the website above.
In 2004, the website got a little bit busier in terms of all the text we were trying to shove on the front page. The solution to this?
Another simple redesign in 2005, which visually segmented certain sections and made the site easier to read.
The site was almost entirely overhauled in 2006, looking more and more like the version we see when we land on houstonpress.com today. In addition to more emphasis on the feature story, Backpage.com was featured prominently for the first time.
In 2007, the site began looking much more familiar and took on the eventual form of what you see today. Note the now-defunct "HouStoned" title of what is now the Hair Balls news blog.
In 2008, the site had mostly gelled into the product we have currently. The blogs had multiplied from two (HouStoned and HouStoned Rocks) to four (HouStoned Ballz and Eating Our Words) and were featured prominently for the first time on the front page through the magic of an RSS feed.
Today, the site is busier than ever. We've trimmed down the blogs to only three (eliminating Ballz earlier this year), but the calendar is still front-and-center, showing you the three best things to do in Houston on any given day.
What will 2010 hold? One thing is for certain: There's no rest for the weary [web developers]. We've got some exciting changes up our sleeve for 2010, so keep a weather eye out. (No, we're not moving to augmented reality or holograms. Sorry.)
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.