[DISCUSSION] Ten Years of TF.N: A Look Back at Web Designing

Discussion in 'Fan Sites' started by Brandon Rhea, Jul 10, 2008.

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  1. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    So because of the tenth anniversary of TF.N that we're now celebrating, I took a gander at the Internet Wayback machine, something I haven't done in awhile, and took a look at all of the archived TF.N designs. Here's the first logged design:

    http://web.archive.org/web/19980116122524/http://www.theforce.net/

    Looking at it, it's pretty bland and looks absolutely nothing like it does now. It was probably seen as pretty advanced back in the day, but I doubt anyone would pay much attention to it in today's world. It's amazing how far this stuff has come. Here is a link to the list of all of the other designs this site has had:

    http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.theforce.net

    I thought it would be nice to have a discussion about the progression of web design by basing it around TF.N and the ten years of its existence. I'm not good with getting the ball rolling on discussions, so I'll leave you with this and ask, what do you guys think about how far TF.N and internet designing has come in the past one and a half decades (or whenever the internet went public :p)?
  2. Grimby Technical Consultant

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2000
    star 7
    Well it's pretty obvious by looking at the original TFN main page that web sites weren't nearly as sophisticated back in 1998 as they are now. Drop a few gifs on a page, type a few lines, add some links, and you could call it a day. Even 5-7 years ago when flash wasn't widely used and people were still getting the hang of cascading style sheets and dynamic drop-down navigation menus, web design still seemed leaps and bounds ahead of that of the mid to late 90's.

    The main thing I've seen a lot of in the last few years that maybe wasn't as much of a fad beforehand was the idea that a website needs to jam as much content as possible onto your screen at once. This usually means a fixed-width 1000-pixel wide box sitting in the middle of your screen regardless of your window size or screen resolution with a large chunk of that fixed size being taken up by banner ads. Sometime in 2004, TFN changed to a similar layout which is still in use today. While I can see the benefits of cramming all that content together (ease of navigation, less scrolling), I always preferred the old fluid layout: http://web.archive.org/web/20040612102923/http://theforce.net/

    Ah, the fluid layout. The layout where everything has a chance to breathe, stretch out, and make use of all that whitespace. Is there a specific reason why (it seems) less and less sites are using fluid designs? Is it because today's coding and standards make it too hard to make a fluid layout work correctly in all browsers? Is it because webmasters are just too lazy to design a fluid- or even a minimum-width layout for their site? Or is it something else? (This forum, btw, still uses an endless array of nested tables to accomplish it's fluid layout. I cringe every time I read through the code. :p)

    My biggest pet peave on the internet is trying to read an article on a website (like CNN) in a ~1000px fixed-width layout with a third of that space being hogged by a sidebar. Why do I, with a 1600x1200 display, have to suffer through that endless scrolling and tiny text? But I digress...

    If you've made it this far through this post, you'll know that while I think the sophistication of web sites has come a long way, I think we still have a lot of room for improvement. The interesting thing is that it's not just one thing that could stand to improve, but just about every aspect of the internet. Everything could stand to improve from our favorite browsers, to W3C standards, to CSS and scripting, and even we the designers.

    Anyway, that's my take. What does everyone else think?
  3. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    Wow, that is crazy. :p I've been here for 4 years, and never noticed the main page before it was changed to the way it is now. But, that explains why we have the banner like we do (meaning the curved image and the side banner). Pretty cool to see that.

    Yes, I have definitely noticed that. And while I do like the old layout, though, I guess I am pretty use to the current layout.

    And you're right, we definitely do have a lot of room of improvement in web design. But, I think it's like a lot of technology now, that as time goes on, things will always improve.
  4. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Giving this a bump to try to jump start more discussion.
  5. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    Hmm...the links don't seem to be working for me...
  6. Trika_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 1999
    star 6
    Yeah... seems a couple of links don't work. Going to the Wayback homepage and attempting to search the early years still provides some valid links, though.

    Gotta love the curve. That's how I thought every website should look like back in the day. :cool:
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