Old vs. New - Having a Foundation

Pat Bowen
Pat Bowenposted on on October 23, 2013

This is the second article in our Old vs New series. It is admittedly a sidebar or tangent from the first piece. In that article I focused on trying to define the change in technologies we (consumers) use every day and how that affects the work we (builders of the web) do on a day to day basis. I noticed I missed two things:

  1. How design fits into all of this and
  2. How catastrophic the first piece may have sounded.

After Apple announced their new products yesterday I thought I would take a look at their site. My first thought, when looking at the site, was how dramatically things had changed. A bright blue background was present to showcase the new iPhone 5C and the majority of the home page was a slider. After taking a closer look though I realized that not that much had changed. I then decided to use the Wayback Machine to see just how much had changed on Apple’s site over the past ten years. Surprisingly not much has changed. How is it that not much has changed, but Apple has always managed to lead or be close to the lead when it comes to design? Simply put? They built a tremendous design foundation that has allowed them to adapt their brand, stay current and cutting edge, but never have to dramatically overhaul from the most recent past.

Using the Wayback Machine I took screenshots of Apple’s website from the fall of 2004 every year until today. These are in the gallery below. The most major changes seem to be between 2006 and 2007 when they changed the navigation and from 2012 to the current design where they removed the four content boxes at the bottom. Here are a few thoughts that I think can be extrapolated to a larger idea of setting a foundation to move forward in change:

  • Having a great design foundation allowed Apple to stay current while constantly adapting.
  • The changes to Apple’s site consistently move to simplify the design and allow users to find what they need faster.
  • Minor iterations based on a solid foundation are easier than constantly trying to destroy and rebuild.


Tagged with Brand Identity, Pageflow