1999 vs 2012

Posted by 1999 vs 2012 in 1999. Found at:

PayPal is a financial technology company that deals with online payment system. By providing email address/phone number and bank account information, online merchants and consumers can easily transfer money to their recipients. It launched the fin-tech payment system for the first time to the public in 1999, completely revolutionizing the idea of payment. Although the idea of online payment has been the foundation of the company, PayPal’s websites from 1999 and 2012 show some differences in its target consumers and how PayPal wanted its audience to act on the website. Screenshots of websites were captured in 1999 had an unfinished vibe. It incorporated three colors: white, blue, and orange, starting off the website with unattractive design. One of the most crucial factors of websites is a clear Call to Action (a.k.a. CTA). Although the website had several points to click to that would lead to different pages, the very first step was rather unclear. Did the user have to sign up first? Could he/she beam/request money right away? What did “Auction Payments” really mean? Should I click “How It Works” on the bottom first? Simply put, 1999 PayPal website did not have a clear action flow for users. This really defined the essence of Web 1.0. Although there were a lot of actions users could take on the website, it could be said to be static. Although there were so many links to click on on the homepage, the website’s main goal was to provide static information to users. 1999 PayPal website had a relatively well organized, information-heavy page called, “How Works.” It was like a user manual; however, the problem was it was not eye catching, making the churn rate possibly relatively high. Again, it all made sense as this was the first year PayPal launched its website and its main objective was to send out information and identity of the company; a company that makes online payments easier. Design, convenience, and CTAs did not really matter to them at this point. 

“How Works” landing page in 1999. Found at:

PayPal grew drastically, and its website also got a totally different visual in 2012. The number of colors reduced down to 2: white and blue, which captured the present day PayPal’s brand icon colors. With simple white-light gray background with concise yet visually pleasing images and figures made the website more appealing. Importantly, CTA was very clear: “Sign Up for Free.” Without reading the user manual, first-time users could easily take the first step on the homepage. This new design of the website showed the nature of Web 2.0: ease of use and participatory culture. The first general impression of the website was: simple. This made users to easily navigate the website and take actions without hesitation. The ease of taking action led to the participatory culture. Numerous landing pages, unlike those of 1999 PayPal website, had fewer words but clear CTAs. “Transfer Overview” page, which served as a user manual, had just two sentences that did not even explain how to use PayPal. Instead, the web page put a big CTA, “Send Someone Money” on the right side, inducing users to click on it and start using PayPal right away. Clicking “Send Someone Money” on the “Transfer Overview” page or from the homepage led to a page where users could start using the service by putting in their email address, recipient’s email address, and amount of money. Unsurprisingly, “Send Someone Money” page also portrayed a simple design with less words, simple-pleasant images, and a clear CTA. 2012 PayPal website certainly wanted to gather more users and have them easily start using its service. in 2012. Found at:
“Transfer Overview” landing page in 2012. Found at:
“Send Someone Money” landing page in 2012. Found at:

1999 PayPal website was more about introducing its identity and service to the public, while 2012 PayPal website was more about getting users to use its service, assuming that the mass public already had some information about PayPal. So how’s PayPal’s website in 2021? Check it out now. 

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