The Columbus Dispatch (www.dispatch.com) is one of the first news paper organization to go online in 1980 with CompuServe dial-up service. Though we cannot find screenshots of the online newspaper in 1980s, we can see how The Columbus Dispatch website looks in 1997 thanks to the Way Back Machine.
As we can see in the screenshot, the website has a simple look. This is similar to most other websites in the Web 1.0 era where information is presented very simply in text and images only. Being a newspaper, the website design is clean and easy to the eye. Despite this, the few images that it does feature still have very stylized texts and colors. The background is reminiscent of paper newspapers, and hyperlinked texts are neatly organized into sections with minimal clutter. On the right side we can see some early online newspaper ads, composed of only an image and a hyperlink.
Clicking into one of the stories, the content is just as expected – blocks of paragraphs with minimal visuals. The site uses text font size and accents only for stylizing, giving the consumer a familiar site due to its similarity to newspapers.
Now, we look at The Columbus Dispatch website in 2011, where Web 2.0 allows websites to have more interactive features as well as more styling options.
Immediately, one can see the difference in the amount of images and varied layouts. In the middle we have the news, organized into sections just as before, but the layout is more compact with little whitespace. On the left is a list of headlines ordered by how recent they are. On the right are blogs and RSS feed, as well as some ads. You might notice that the ads are not displaying, and the reason is hiding in the source code.
Here is another block for the bottom menu, where clicking customer service would open a new tab or window and allow you to chat live with customer service. This allows users to use that service without leaving the news site.
Finally, as another indicator of increased complexity in the website, we observe that the old website’s HTML code only has 395 lines, while the new one has a whopping 6555 lines!
As internet technology gets more advanced, even newspaper sites that used to be known for its simplicity and plain information delivery gets more and more complex. This trend will only continue, and who knows what the future of newspaper sites will hold!