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When the first version of GoLive was released in August of 1996 (Gonet GoLive Pro 1.0), web design was still in its infancy.
Web page ppearance and coding was very simple and playful. Today we would call this design style "amateurish," but in 1996 it must have appeared differently to the eyes of visitors who were starting to explore the web for the first time.

In 1996, the Internet Archive began archiving the web for a service called the Wayback Machine. Following are some examples of web page design in 1996:

Bestbuy.com (1996)

It also must be noted that the web in 1996 wasn't seen as the formidable marketing and business instrument as it is today, so corporations weren't interested in investing much on the web.

Mcdonalds.com (1996)

 

Nytimes.com (1996)

Let's now look at one of the most influential websites for setting design standards: Apple.com:

Apple.com (1997)

Let's keep in mind that in 1996 the web was only 5 years old.
Tim Berners-Lee had in fact published the first website in August 1991: a simple, text-based page with a dozen or so links, explaining what the World Wide Web was all about.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was established only in 1994.

Let's give a look to the most popular web page at the time (and possibly the best designed as far as appearance and usability, even by today's standards):

Yahoo.com (1996)

In 1996 Flash was developed and introduced for the first time. It was originally known as FutureSplash Animator, then Macromedia Flash, and currently as Adobe Flash.

Table based design

In the early days of web design, layouts were built by using tables and spacer GIFs were used to control whitespace of web layouts.
Original table markup in HTML was meant for displaying tabular data, but designers found table useful for providing structure to their design.

CSS based design

CSS started being adopted widely only after the dot com boom of the early 2000's due to earlier lack of browser support.
The CSS 1 specification was completed in 1996, but Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3, releasedthat same year as well as the other browsers, had limited support for CSS. It wasn't until Internet Explorer 5.0 for the Macintosh was shipped in March 2000, that a browser finally supported CSS.

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