Web Design: Pizza Hut Website from 1994/1996 to 2011
Imagine satisfying cravings for a delectable cheesy and doughy pepperoni pizza from the comfort of your own home. In 1994, ordering food online was a foreign concept to people. Pizza Hut, one of the founding fathers in the pizza industry, however, made this task possible with the implementation of its new website “PizzaNet.” Although pizza deliveries have been happening around the world before the upbringing of the Internet, the first official online pizza order through the World Wide Web occurred in 1994. “PizzaNet,” was one of the first websites in which consumers could physically order a product online. The Pizza Hut franchise could be credited with the role of starting the online shopping and food ordering revolution that consumers rely on today.
In 1994, Pizza Hut launched a test market in the Santa Cruz area to see how consumers responded to the website before launching it nationally (Hoffmann, 2018). Customers who had computers, access to the Internet, and a Mosaic interface program could tap into the PizzaNet server. The 1994 version of the PizzaNet site was in a form layout that allowed consumers to see a special menu in which they could order their pizza via the website (Schrange, 1994). Consumers were also required to give Pizza Hut access to contact information like their name, street address, and telephone number (“Welcome to PizzaNet! – Pizza Hut: Pizza Delivery | Pizza …”). Pizza Hut was one of the first companies to embark on the adventurous concept of online ordering; thus, several precautions must’ve been taken to ensure the success of the orders. After every order was placed, Pizza Hut headquarters in Wichita, Kansas (who had access to the consumers’ contact information) would call and confirm the order to make sure no one was pranking their business. Because there was currently no way of performing monetary transactions online in 1994, Pizza Hut received the money from the customer’s door at the completion of the delivery. Thus, verification of orders was of the utmost importance in order to ensure that the company received cash for their pizza creations in Santa Cruz (Schrange, 1994).
The PizzaNet customized form to order the pizza was composed of a list of custom pizza toppings and drinks. Each time a form was submitted, the information was communicated to the headquarters in Kansas. The Kansas location would then transmit the customers’ information to the Pizza Hut location in Santa Cruz so that they could perform the delivery (Hoffmann, 2018). The first order ever placed on PizzaNet was acclaimed to be a large pepperoni, mushroom, and extra cheese pizza (Morris, 2019). Although this customizable order form can not be currently seen on the archived websites, actress Sandra Bullock ordered a pizza through PizzaNet in the movie ‘The Net.’ Some hypothetical images of what this menu looked like can be seen below from scenes of the movie (Novak, 2013).
Although PizzaNet originated in 1994, the Internet Archive Website, however, does not offer a snapshot of the site until December 19, 1996. The two sites, however, are nearly identical. The only difference between the two is that the 1996 website offers a pop of color in the menu; whereas, the 1994 website is primarily black, white, and grey. Also, the 1994 version is called PizzaNet; whereas, the 1996 version is titled PizzaHut (“Welcome to Pizza Hut!”).
The Pizza Hut website from August 31, 2011, however, contrasts greatly from the original PizzaNet design and idea. In addition to regular pizza and beverages, the 2011 online Pizza Hut menu offers pasta, calzones, wings, sides and desserts, catering options, and various deals. The website still offers a section in which consumers can place an order, however, now customers are given the option of instant payment with a credit card. This new appealing addition to the site would take away the long order verification process. Moreover, the website that is presented in 2011 is represented as more aesthetically pleasing than it was in 1994 and 1996. The site offers more colors and delectable photos of pizzas, wings, and desserts in order to appeal to the consumers’ taste buds and persuade them to purchase the product. The site also allows users to create an account, purchase egift cards for family members and friends, and read the website in different languages in addition to English. As the internet advanced, Pizza Hut was able to increase its complexity by adding many new features to the site. The franchise was also most likely forced to implement marketing strategies like appeal to senses and the addition of deals in order to compete with competitors like Dominos (“Pizza Hut”).
Although PizzaNet was a very simple model compared to the new versions of the Pizza Hut menu, the site paved the way for the future of online food ordering and shopping. The ease and comfort of ordering a delicious pizza, a savory pasta dish, or a chocolate delicacy from the couch in pajamas all started with Pizza Hut’s idea of PizzaNet. Now, in the 21st century, sites like Doordash, Uber eats, and GrubHub drive peoples daily consumption (especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic). While these applications are very modern and technologically advanced, they were all inspired by PizzaNet’s original form-based approach to online ordering.
Hoffmann, Jay. “The First Thing That Ever Sold Online Was Pizza.” The History of the Web, July 30, 2018. https://thehistoryoftheweb.com/postscript/pizzanet/.
“Internet archive: Wayback Machine.” Accessed October 8, 2021. https://archive.org/web/.
Morris, Alyssa. “PizzaNet: How a Website Changed Pizza and the World – the Sauce.” The Sauce by Slice. Zach Links, April 10, 2019. https://blog.slicelife.com/pizzanet-how-a-website-changed-pizza-and-the-world/.
Novak, Matt. “Ordering Pizza Online in the Retrofuture.” Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Institution, January 24, 2013. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ordering-pizza-online-in-the-retrofuture-5871/.
“Pizza Hut.” Accessed October 8, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20110831201758/http://www.pizzahut.com/.
Schrage, Michael. “On-Line Pizza Idea Is Clever but Only Half-Baked.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1994. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-08-25-fi-31168-story.html.
“Welcome to Pizza Hut!” Accessed October 8, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/19961219205128/http://www.pizzahut.com/.
“Welcome to PizzaNet! – Pizza Hut: Pizza Delivery | Pizza …” Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.pizzahut.com/assets/pizzanet/home.html.