Rewind Week: My First Websites

This week, we’re taking a trip back in time to highlight some of the first work our team has done in their respective areas of expertise. We’re calling it Rewind Week, and think you’ll enjoy opening up the archives with us.

I grew up in a great time to be building websites. In the mid- and late ‘90s, I was a teenager with lots of time on my hands and a computer with a modem in my parent’s basement.

So what did I do?

Obviously, build websites. (Thank you, peanut gallery.)

It All Started at CompuServe

compuserveIt’s likely that the first website I built was a simple one-page site on CompuServe, where we had our online access – unlike everyone else at the time who had AOL – but things changed dramatically when we got our first broadband modem.

I’m thinking it was around 1997 when we switched from dial-up on CompuServe to the “real” Internet with Comcast, and that’s when I started building sites.

As I’ve previously mentioned, this was also around the peak time of my love for baseball, so it’ll come as no surprise that my first website was a baseball site. It was built on GeoCities (which apparently is still available, but only in Japan), and dedicated to my favorite team – the Baltimore Orioles.

It was called Jason’s Baltimore Orioles Site, and it featured articles on the team, commentary and analysis and reviews of games. I distinctly remember discussing with a friend the pros and cons of using frames on the site – I think we did both at different points – and adding the classic “This site was built on GeoCities” with the classic logo on the footer of all of my pages.

Introducing HyperBaseball.com

hbcomThat site paved the way for the development of another baseball website, HyperBaseball.com, which was built in conjunction with another baseball fan half-way across the country. We designed the site, gathered a team of writers, published daily content and polls, put together an email newsletter, and even had a contest to give away an Albert Belle-signed baseball.

Web development was changing so quickly during that time, with the growing popularity of stylesheets, server-side includes, XML feeds and more — and HyperBaseball grew with that. We went from a little fan project to a full-featured site; I can still remember the excitement I got when the first advertiser contacted me to sponsor the site.

We had a huge influx of traffic when we added a bulletin board from vBulletin, still the best message board option out there, and we built great relationships with other sports publishers working in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

HyperBaseball went through a number of designs over its three or four years in existence, but as we moved onto college, the site didn’t get the love and attention it needed to continuously grow. I’ve still got a lot of the files on my computer (about 12 years later) and I definitely remember that time fondly.

What was your first website? Let us know in a comment below.

Jason Unger
About Jason Unger
Jason Unger is the Founder of Digital Ink, the creative and digital team that builds brands and helps companies grow. Based outside of Washington, D.C., Jason has done it all, from website strategy, design, development, troubleshooting, maintenance, content and marketing.