Jeff Veen recently posted a look back at HotWired, discussing how the design of the site changed over the years since 1994. This reminded me that I have a demo copy of HotWired which he and you might like so here it is, HotWired from 1995.
When I was working at Wired UK we would occasionally have a stand at trade shows to promote the magazine. Back then (1995-6) getting an internet connection at the venue was either impossible or hugely expensive, so the US office sent over this demo version of HotWired for us to use on the stand. Most, but not all, of the links link to other static pages within the demo, so it’s a way to pretend you’re surfing the live site.
I do love the design and I don’t think this is only down to nostalgia. The pages look completely unlike websites today, particularly Web 2.0 design with its gradient fills and rounded corners. A limited palette and an effort to do creative things with a simple version of HTML. It’s a bit like tiring of print design that plays with the effects available in DTP and graphics applications and going back to look at, say, posters from the Bauhaus or 1970s punk fanzines.
For the true mid-90s experience you should resize your browser window to 800x600 (or even 640x480) and change the default background colour of pages in your browser’s preferences to a mid/light grey.
I haven’t spent a lot of time looking through the site, so do post a comment if you find something particularly interesting.