Tuesday, August 14, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: August 14, 1998 -- Design Tweaks, One Month Post-Launch (and the 1998 Avengers)

August 14, 1998: The top graphic spot features Uma Thurman from The Avengers, the big-screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series that had minimal impact compared to the 2012 movie of the same name. (Also, the "Uma is Emma" line was my take on David Letterman's "Oprah, Uma" bit from the 1995 Oscars.)

More importantly, this is one month after the July 14 relaunch, and where we introduced some design tweaks (that I'd forgotten about until I was scrolling through the August photos and saw some differences):

Here's an animated gif that makes the differences easy to spot:
  • First and foremost, the AOL Netfind search bar below the main promo block (and that previously spanned the top of the five columns) was moved to the AOL Netfind column, which also received a background color to make it stand out more. 
  • We added bolded "Explore [Product Name]" headers above the static list items below the fold, and also made them unordered lists with red bullets.
  • You can also see horizontal dividers between the different column sections. Apparently, we were concerned that people were ignoring the column content.
  • We made an odd font choice, where the column header and promo content was a serif font (probably Times Roman), whereas the list items remained sans serif. It might have just been an artifact of how we published the promos via the promo rotator tool. It looks ugly as hell.
Animated gif comparing the design tweaks to the AOL.com home page one-month postlaunch
[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

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