Tags: design commentary, Geocities style, web design
The ‘Geocities’ design style mainly consists of a simple layout featuring heavy use of animated GIFs, a reduced colour palette and little use of contemporary design techniques. It is mainly used by amateur designers for their personal websites.
- animated GIFs
- web-safe colour palette
- extremely basic layout
- amateur/enthusiast designers
When it was fashionable
The Geocities web hosting service began in 1994 and ran for almost fourteen years before being shut down. There were over 38 million user-built pages on GeoCities before it was shut down. The user-driven nature of this service and others like it meant that it was a vast source of enthusiast-built sites, very few of which were developed by people with any formal design training.
The classic style for these websites as described in this post began in the mid 1990s and only lost popularity with the rise of social networking sites like Facebook.
What inspires the style
It’s difficult to find a specific inspiration for this style. It is driven by personal preference, both for colours and images. ‘Geocities’ designers might find inspiration on free clip-art sites, where they find the animated GIFs that are so much a part of this style.
How the style has changed over time
The style remained static for the duration of its fashionable time. However, it has since evolved and found a new home on MySpace, where the traditional animated GIFs have been updated to reflect current pop culture and large background images have replaced the web-safe palette of Geocities.
How technology has caused the style to change
Changes to technology have opened the way for this style to embrace large JPEG images. It has also improved the construction of animated GIFs, with more complex effects and a wider range of colours.
However, the biggest change in technology has been the discontinuation of the style’s main hosting service, resulting in the loss of over 38 million examples of the style.
Example URLs and screen shots
Still images cannot really do this style justice…
Bruce Lawson’s Geocities parody CSS Zen Garden submission entitled ‘Geocities 1996’.
My website has never and will never really look like this. I generated the above screenshot at http://wonder-tonic.com/geocitiesizer/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeoCities – everything you ever wanted to know about Geocities.
http://wonder-tonic.com/geocitiesizer/ – this site claims to be able to make any website look ‘Geocities’. I tested it with The Daily ALIEN – results above. Try this on any website you like…
http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/2004/zengarden/ – Bruce Lawson’s explanation for his CSS Zen Garden submission.