Nintendo’s Website: 1997 to 2011
It is no surprise that Nintendo’s official website underwent a huge transformation from the late 1990s to the early 2010s. The early era of the internet in the 1990s is referred to as the “web 1.0”, characterized by its information-oriented content and text plus image web designs. In 1999, the internet began to emphasize user-generated content, ease of use, and participatory culture. It became known as the “web 2.0”. Both internet users and web designs metamorphosed into something more similar to what we have today. Examining the differences in a web design can reveal much about how the consumers changed. Nintendo altered their web design from a design that was tailored to avid fans to a design that attracted potential customers.
Nintendo.com in 1997 had a few small images with accompanying text that described the latest happenings for the company. It’s homepage featured things like Nintendo related news stories, a lottery for a new controller, and a place to register for a warranty on your Nintendo 64. It is obvious that the consumers on their website were people familiar with Nintendo and its products. It didn’t offer any basic information about the company or its video games. Instead it offered information and services that only avid fans would benefit from. For example, it had information and screenshots on the latest Zelda 64 update. Someone unfamiliar with Nintendo and their games would be confused about what Zelda 64 is and how to play it, as there were no basic details for it.
Furthermore, it seems like the consumer base on their website were people who enjoyed personal computers and the internet. In other words, tech savvy people. One of the prominent features was a competition called “Code of the Week”. The only description available was a “Yeeeeehaaaaaw!” and that you can now also play as a chicken in Mace: The Dark Age. Obviously, a weekly coding competition only interests programmers, and yet this was a prominent feature on the homepage. Additionally, only people who are already familiar with the game Mace: The Dark Age would be excited about the news.
By 2011, Nintendo.com’s web design had undergone some drastic changes and they revealed a lot about the new types of consumers visiting their website. Firstly, the most prominent feature on their homepage became a list of their products and accompanying descriptions. This means that visitors were no longer just tech savvy Nintendo fans, but also people who were unfamiliar with Nintendo and their products. They still had sections for the latest Nintendo related news stories and game updates, but they were not nearly as prominent. Instead, the most central feature was a button to buy their latest product: the Nintendo 3DS. Their main audience had transitioned from people who already owned Nintendo products to people who were thinking about buying Nintendo products.
Additionally, the presence of multiple tech support buttons and set-up instructions meant that their consumers were significantly less tech savvy than before, where they competed in Code of the Week competitions.
As the internet grew in popularity from the 1990s to the 2010s, website visitors also began to change. Nintendo’s audience became more unfamiliar with their products and significantly less tech savvy. The consumers changed from avid Nintendo fans, who wanted to play as a chicken in Mace: The Dark Age, to the general public, which was more interested in buying a 3DS for Christmas. If nothing else, the metamorphosis of their web design, from advanced information to basic descriptions, reveals this change.