5 Retro Elements on CleanFreak.com in 2001
(Image: CleanFreak.com's homepage in February 2001, two years after the website launched.)
CleanFreak.com has been selling super duper cleaning stuff online since 2000, and thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, we can glimpse at the site in its infancy. As you'll see, web design trends have changed rapidly. Browse the CleanFreak.com of 2001 and check out our own observations about the site.
1. The site employed bright flashy colors.
CleanFreak.com of 2001 went heavy on primary colors: red, yellow and blue. (Its follow-up design a few years later swapped red for green.) Today, sites stick to two or three colors, with one or two being neutral. Simplistic is professional in 2015.
CleanFreak.com’s creative artist Cristy Wiza, who designed the current site, explained the switch to blue, white and grey in 2014: "I wanted the new logo to focus on the 'clean' of CleanFreak.com. The original colors of green, orange/yellow and black had the opposite feel of 'clean,' and the crazy-faced character put too much emphasis on the 'freak' of CleanFreak.com." Blue signals cleanliness and grey is calming, she said.
2. The search function was a link to a search page, not a typeable search bar.
Nielsen Norman, a user interface consulting firm, found that displaying a typeable search bar on a page increased search engine usage 91%. Today CleanFreak.com has a search bar on every page top and center to help you find what you need immediately.
3. Navigation was all about the left side menu.
The sidebar alone took up nearly 20% of the old CleanFreak.com's width. But hey, everyone did sidebars back then, including eBay, Fox News and Hershey's. Today, top navigation bars are in. Every site has a banner anyway, so spanning navigation below the banner frees up space to display crucial content “above the fold”--the top part of the screen that requires no scrolling.
4. Inventory pages weren't jam-packed with useful-tool goodness.
A product description and a picture were adequate for CleanFreak.com’s pioneer shoppers, but today’s information-hungry visitors want more. CleanFreak.com has amped up its features to include price comparing, wishlists, reviews, deeper product insight and fast facts, more photos, social sharing and printing. We also no longer use a drop-down menu that limits your item quantity to 20, so now you can buy our entire inventory if you’re ambitious.
5. We had to remind people we were legitimate.
Inviting customers to buy over the phone from an ecommerce company back in 2001 gave peace of mind to the wary. Online shopping was new and unfamiliar then. We advertised “Order online or call us at…” on top of every page to prove we could offer a human voice to callers. Of course, despite online ordering being more popular than ever, anyone is still welcome to call us in 2015. In a digital age where you don't need to talk to anyone to complete your purchase, we still offer that personal touch for anyone who wants it.