13 Components That Defined a Great Website in 1998

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As Google celebrates the change of seasons with a newly enhanced layout, I’ve come down with a bad case of Springtime nostalgia. Ah, yes, the glory days of my pre-teen years bring back fond memories. But, like any good tech nerd, these memories don’t consist of playing in the sun or relaxing in the shade, but instead, of the wild, wild, west of the web.

The year is 1998. Everyone and their mom is planning their own website, and you’re looking to get in on the action. But, how? Easy, as any informed webmaster of our time knows, there are 13 critical components that define a great website. Allow me to explain…

1. Free Hosting With a Site Builder


First, you will need a free hosting account with a reputable, professional, top-of-the-line hosting provider like Geocities or Tripod. Really, any service that will host your files and provide you with an easy-to-use site-building interface will do. Most importantly, make sure you base your decision upon which company’s name you think sounds the coolest.

2. The Perfect Pseudonym


If you want your website to be taken seriously, you’re going to need to build a solid reputation. Of course, that all starts with the perfect pseudonym. David Davidson may work for you in real life, but you’re going to need something a little more powerful for your online persona. Try viRu$_hAx0r_4002-91, CYBER_BATMAN_2000, or sk8r325809238291. See, doesn’t that feel better?

3. An Under Construction Page


What’s more important than actually launching your site? Taking the time to create an elaborate page letting anyone who may randomly stumble upon your site know that it’s under construction. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT begin working on your site until you have a solid “under construction” page up. Don’t forget to include several images of construction signs and links to websites that already feature the content you are planning to cover. This might take awhile, but don’t worry, this page can be saved for future use.

4. An Extravagant Wallpaper


When building your main index page, you’ll want to start with the most important element — the background. Why is this the most important thing to focus on? The background accounts for the majority of any given visitor’s monitor space. Keeping in mind just how important the background is, you’re going to want the flashiest wallpaper available to plaster on it. Good choices typically include camouflage and tie dye. Really, though, any multi-colored pattern works. Don’t worry if you can only come up with a small image, you’re going to want to tile it anyway. That way, your 100px by 100px image will be shown hundreds of times.

5. Quality Content in Varied Fonts


Filling your website with quality content is the easiest part of the website creation process. Simply speak your mind and load your site with information on any topic that interests you. Feeling lazy? Not a problem! Just find websites that already contain the information your site needs, copy it, and paste it into your site editor. Easy, right? Now, you’re not going to want it displayed in some boring font like Arial or Times New Roman. Select a font that gives your site some character, but make sure to switch it up every few paragraphs or so.

6. URL Redirection


Sites created with Geocities and Tripod have long, hard to remember URLs. You’ll want to use a service that gives you a shorter URL which redirects to your page like This will ensure that you don’t forget your site’s address. As an added benefit, it will help your friends to access your site more easily. Don’t worry about the pop-up ads it will activate, this too makes your site look more professional.

7. The Enter Page


When visitors land on your site, you don’t want them to immediately receive the content they are looking for. Why? That makes you look like a total newb. Instead, you’ll want to create a splash page with a link that reads “enter.” Essentially, this is the online equivalent of opening your front door and inviting a guest into your home.

8. A Guestbook


Alright, you’ve spent a lot of time creating a solid website, now it’s time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Installing a guestbook on your site is as easy as registering at and customizing a pre-set template. After doing so, you can stick it right onto your site. Always include the field “What do you like about my site?” in the guestbook form — your hard work should never go unnoticed.

9. Buttons (Lots of Them)


Seek out a number of websites that rank the top websites for any given category (i.e. Top 100 Freestyle Frisbee Websites). Submit your link to them and you’ll be given a nifty button to place on your page, letting everyone know that you’re aiming for #1. The theme of these ranking sites is irrelevant, if your website is good, it will make it to the top of their list. Among these buttons you’ll also want to include buttons that send users to download Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer (just in case they don’t already have a web browser).

10. A Welcome Pop-up


While the enter page invites your visitors into your site, you don’t want to forget to welcome them. If you forget to do so, you will come off as rude. You don’t want that, right? Of course not! The best way to welcome visitors to your site is by creating a box that pops up and reads, “WELCOME!!!!!11.” If they have their speakers on it will make a loud noise alerting them of your greeting. Visitors will also have to click the “OK” button in the pop-up ensuring that they have received your courteous welcome.

11. A Visitor Counter


Every high quality website has a visitor counter that tracks how many times any given page on a site has been viewed. This will let you know how many individuals around the world are visiting your website, and will update in real time. Don’t feel bad if you’re not getting a ton of traffic, most counters allow you to start counting at any number you please. It’s recommended that you set your counter at a few million views to start — this will make your site look extremely popular.

12. Animated GIFs


The number of animated GIFs your website contains is directly proportional to its value. Stick an assortment of these images in seemingly random places throughout your pages. Popular animations include: flaming skulls, rotating smiley faces, large bouncing arrows, and pointing fingers.

13. A Looping MIDI Song


Adding a looping MIDI song to your website is the icing on the cake. First, select a popular (preferably alternative rock) song. Next, find a MIDI version of the song using a reliable search engine such as AltaVista and download it. No, this is not illegal, artists don’t care how their music is used on the internet. Patiently wait as the download may take between 2 – 3 hours depending on how many people are connected to your ISP at the time. Once completed, embed a MIDI player into your site, set the loop to infinite and you’re set. Now your audience can jam out to your favorite songs while they take in the awesomeness of your site.

What do you think?

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Written by Timothy James Duffy

Timothy James Duffy is a full-time internet marketer, online content creator by day, and a Playstation 3 addict by night. Follow him on Twitter @timothyjduffy.

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