Sunday, 8 January 2012

How Grew Up - A Journey through the Internet Age

I'm not sure we're far enough into the Internet age to be sentimental about what has gone before, or maybe we are. I wouldn't say we miss our first ever web site but we do have fond memories of it and how it came to be.

The first ever Legal-Island website made an appearance in early1999. It was pretty rough but it really didn't matter in those days because few had heard of this thing called "The Wide World Web" and fewer still used it. It was created by software that came free in a floppy disk on the front of PC Magazine claiming it could get you a web page in "just 30 minutes". Within 2 hours things were going so well that I had not one page but two linked together and something what you might even call a "web site".
The first page featured links likely to be of use to people with an employment query in Northern Ireland.The second was intended for the equivalent audience in the Republic of Ireland.By the end of the exercise I still wasn't convinced that I had something worth keeping but just in case I was wrong I saved both pages to a file on the same floppy disk. Needing a file name I thought that as both pages related to Legal material in the Island of Ireland I'd call it "Legal-Island" and yes the name kind of stuck.

You can access all of our old sites below by clicking on the year they were born although you may have to wait a few seconds for the site to load behind a test card. With a mixture of nostalgia and horror here's a quick tour :

1999 - Our first website featured our little friend on an Island plucked straight out of a free clip art disk. To this day we still have a poster of him on our office wall. He's a solitary figure. One I guess that represents quite well the plight of many starting a business. It can be a lonely existence and yes you're often that busy at the start that, like him, there's no time to get to a barber or even shave.

2000 - Our hairy friend had disappeared by the following year. Just one figure meant only one gender could be represented so the search was on for an image with better gender balance. I asked a guy who was a graphics designer if he had an image of a lady we could drop on the Island for balance and to keep our solitary man company. But the only one he could find was far too down the other end of the scale from the professional image we needed. Whilst guaranteed to put a smile on our lonely friend's face she also risked alienating a good number of web browsers.What appeared instead was a gender neutral figure. It looked like it had been moulded out of plasticine but it was suitable for all PCs. Very PC.

2001 By the following year we were already on our third version of the site and one that to this day I remain quite fond of. For a "homer" job it wasn't too bad and the colours really worked for me.This site was to last us almost four years - a lifetime and more for a web site. Don't forget this was still the early 2000s and some time BG ("before Google") when it was difficult to find what you were looking for on the web so link sites or directories were still very much the vogue.

2005 By the mid naughties we were having our first ever venture with a commercial web building firm.  I remember the conception of this site being a load of fun but the production an awful lot of pain. By 2005 search engines were beginning to get really good and people began to search their way round the Internet using Altavista, Dogpile and this new kid on the block called Google.

2009 As we prepared to leave the decade so we got ready for a new look and a brand new web site designed by Tibus in Holywood. This has served us well but I have a feeling that VI wont be long in coming. Maybe our solitary friend will make a return guest appearance. We've a lot to tell him.

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