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If you visit whitehouse.gov today, you’ll see a well-designed, functional site that gives you access to press releases, video content, news and historical information. It’s a one-stop shop for official government info.
Of course, it wasn’t always such a robust experience. The White House website has been through some major design and development changes in the past 15 years.
Starting in 1996, we took a look at some of the different iterations it’s been through.
The earliest screenshot we could find was a static search page from 1996. With no browsing options or menu to help you, it wouldn’t have been much good for general browsing.
In just one year, the website got quite an update, with one of those snazzy tiled backgrounds we all loved, and some actual hyperlinks. As well as searching and browsing documents, the site included a mailing list at this stage so you could ”receive White House publications on a daily basis”.
The year 2000 brought a big change, with the introduction of a two-column table layout. We can actually see some concerted effort going into the design at this stage.
From tables to frames, and a splash of color. This version added a menu for the first time, making navigation much easier.
Just six months later, we can see the major improvements that came from adding a touch of CSS. This layout is clean and functional, and puts ‘issues in focus’ in prime position.
Close to what we can see on the White House website today, this version uses deeper blues to contrast against the white background, and high quality images. A touch of red in this design makes the headings stand out, as well.
Finally, the current site. Although the overall design is similar to that of 2009, the main content is laid out more clearly.
The options we have in designing for the web have changed dramatically over time, and it’s fascinating to see a site like this one evolve. Imagine how it will look in another 15 years!
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Belle Beth Cooper
Belle has spent the past four years as a freelance writer and social media consultant. She has written for The Next Web, Desktop Magazine and Social Media Examiner. Belle now spends her days wielding a pencil as Attendly's Head of Content.