As time passes, even the biggest and most popular applications get further away from their original looks.
Changes in consumers’ aesthetic preferences and heightened expectations for app usability urge companies to invest in updates to interfaces, so that they gradually evolve to meet demand.
So what did some of the most popular apps look like when they first launched? Here are some vintage versions of your favourite apps and websites.
Samantha Cooney contributed to an earlier version of this post.
The original homepage for Facebook (née “thefacebook”) is fairly well-known, thanks to the Oscar-nominated origin story “The Social Network.” The site’s most famous feature was the anonymous face in the upper left hand corner, which was later revealed to be a manipulated image of actor Al Pacino. After logging in, users were taken to a welcome page with no scroll option, rather than a feed of updates from friends and companies.
Instagram’s original 2011 logo wasn’t updated until the photo-sharing app unveiled a new one in 2016, but the app changed constantly. In addition to adding more filter options, the direct-messaging capability, and horizontal pictures (instead of exclusively showing pictures in squares) Instagram removed the bars from the top and the bottom of the feed and removed all of the black backgrounds from the other screens.
When Uber debuted a new logo in 2016, many were quick to make snarky comments about the clunky design (the logo has changed again, now with a black background instead of that blue web). The first iteration of the Uber app, then known as UberCab, was far worse in terms of both logo and usability. The basics were there (enter your credit card info and location and then call a car), but it featured a bright red logo and a less refined interface.
The original version of the photo-messaging app had fewer options – like no filters or Bitmoji stickers – but there was still so much more going on. Evan Spiegel and company wisely dropped the blue touches and cartoonish icons in later versions to create the sleek interface we have today.
The first-ever version of Tinder lacked its most famous functionality: the ability to swipe right or left on potential suitors. Tinder co-founder and chief strategy officer Jonathan Badeen said at VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit in April 2016 that the functionality was inspired by a deck of cards.
The only familiar thing about Twitter’s original 2006 site design is the feed. The social networking site’s first logo was purchased for about $US15 before the site upgraded to its signature bird in 2012, which changed to look a lot more realistic in the years that followed.
This popular mobile payment service relied almost entirely on plain text when it first launched in 2009. Venmo’s website had instructions about how to use the service, and users were required to text payments to each other instead of sending them through an application.
The Swedish music sharing application launched in the U.S. in July 2011, with an application that offered “Millions of tracks ready to play instantly, on your computer and your phone,” according to the website. Years later, it also offered access to podcasts and video, but the original version had the basics: search a track and listen to it. Users could sign up to request an invitation for a six-month free trial or go directly to Spotify Premium or Unlimited, starting at $US4.99/month.
Yelp started out as a much more basic crowdsourcing platform than the one we know today. In 2004, users sent emails through the platform for recommendations for restaurants, doctors, and more. After a huge redesign, the reviews were more openly shared, and the site’s popularity took off.
Remember the balloon? And the mustache? Lyft hit the market a little after Uber did, with all of the personality of your friendly neighbourhood driver. The intention was to juxtapose Uber’s more rigid black-and-white look, and Lyft did that by using brighter colours like pink and teal. Today’s app interface is a little more refined.
When YouTube was founded in 2005, it allowed very basic video-sharing capabilities. There was only one option for the level of quality and the website lacked the icons that draw viewers in today.
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