Have you ever looked back at old school pictures from decades ago and thought, “Oh gosh. What was I wearing? What I was thinking?” in dismay? We’ve all been there, and now Microsoft is doing the same.
Back in the day, well, the day being 19 years ago in 1995, Microsoft released Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer became the web browser that would popularize the existence of the World Wide Web. However, a year prior to Microsoft releasing its popular web browser, the company quietly unveiled its very first website. In the spirit of nostalgia or perhaps #tbt (Throwback Thursday) and #fbf (Flashback Friday), Microsoft recently relaunched its original website in all of its dial-up, web 1.0, tacky, mid 1990’s glory.
Though the original website may be fun to look at (or make fun of) and reminisce about the good ol’ days of the internet, it also serves as a reminder as to how far web design has come, as well as its continued relevance in marketing today.
Microsoft’s original website was launched at a time when the very term or practice of web design didn’t exist. This is evident by the lack of typographic hierarchy, the thoughtless use of typefaces, as well as the random placement of low-resolution graphics. This is what the web looked like before anyone had even imagined applying design principles to it.
Now, effective web design is synonymous with integrated marketing solutions. To think web design is not an essential aspect of branding would literally be blasphemy, like having macaroni with no cheese. The horror!
However, in the ever-evolving world that is the advertising industry, new marketing strategies and trends frequently come and go. Content marketing is all the rage now. To think otherwise would be so, like, two years ago.
So what is content marketing exactly? Content marketing can be defined as a marketing strategy focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content in order to attract and retain a clearly defined target audience, with the end goal of driving profitable consumer action. Companies both large and small have been integrating content marketing into their overall marketing strategies with great success.
Not so fast, though. Web design is still a critical part of marketing, and it isn’t all about content. Though content remains important, the client also has to be visually stimulated by your site as well. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
The attention span of most people today is becoming much shorter, as the instant-gratification the web and mobile devices provide continues to be an influence. Much of the research indicates that if consumers can’t find the information they are looking for in the first 10 to 20 seconds on a website, they will move on, and possibly for good.
A company’s website should be cohesive in that it accurately portrays the brand and overall message. Not only should it be aesthetically pleasing and engaging, it should also be intuitive, responsive, and easy to use, allowing for a satisfying user experience. Web sites should also be optimized for viewing on smartphones and other mobile devices such as tablets, as more and more consumers rely on these as their primary means of connecting to the web.
Microsoft’s relaunch of its old “retro” website serves as a reminder of how far web design has come, as well as how important it still is today.