The Evolution of the Simplysigns Website

Ocassionally, I like to go on a journey through the sands of time, in the playground that is the Wayback Machine.

If you havent had the chance to muck about on it before, it really is a lot of fun. It holds archives/captures of a huge amount of websites which make for interesting historical viewing on how web design has changed over time. This archive system is also useful for seeing your own company history and how your own website has evolved. It can be interesting to see online branding trends and colour schemes in web development in the past 20 years, and give us much to learn from. Below is a wonderful set of images from the Wayback Machine of all the iterations the Simplysigns website has gone through (including the original Earlysigns).  This shows an original case study for how the website has evolved over time.

Earlysigns 2002


Beautifully simple. This homepage was quite technologically advanced for it's time - not every company had a website in 2002. No really, don't laugh. Websites acted as sort of an online business card in the early days, with just enough contact information to find your property or give you a call (this was way before online maps). This would have meant that customers could have searched online for your company and found your details easily, rather than relying on word of mouth or rifling through the Yellow Pages. This was a different time, and I am so glad we get to see how it all began - with something as simple as this wonderfully charming homepage. (At the same time we registered the simplysigns domain, which became active in the same year. However it wasnt to be used again until 2013, and lay dorment for over 10 years).

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Earlysigns 2003


Here we can see the era that web design seemed to come into it's own. Flash was being used widely as it was vector based and took up little space. Flash was a revolution for web design as it allowed for movement to appear in these tiny websites - something that was new and exciting. Here you can see that our website has also opened up to extra pages offering a categorisation of services - another very reliable tool for searching for businesses online. At this stage, in 2003, websites were still not commonplace (although on the rise), and SEO/Search Engines were certainly unaware of how much potential they would have as money making ventures in the future. You can see here that an online brand is emerging for Earlysigns, but seeing as at the time there were only 2 employees in the business it was very much in it's online infancy.

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Earlysigns 2010


This is the time that our business moved from Acton to Neasden, which you can read about on the About Us section of the website.

Here we can see that the brand has been effectively brought across to the medium of web design, on what I think is the first successful interation of the company website. Computers and servers were getting a bit more powerful in 2010. However, this was still a time before mobile browsing was commonplace. Websites in 2010 were pretty much still made for viewing on desktops only, but that would all change in the next few years.

You might notice another aspect of the design below - the heavy dark blue - bright bold colours were heavily used in older websites as it had a 'technology' vibe about it. I think modern websites try to be more elegant and graphic design heavy than 'tech' heavy these days, as people no longer think that websites and tech are synonamous.


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Simplysigns 2013


Here we can see that the Simplysigns rebranding has come into full swing with a makeover to the old site. You can also see by the design it has the new trends in web design in 2013. Computers became more powerful and mobile browsing began to grow. Web Design was mainly using stark bold and contrasting colours, and becoming less attached to the idea of 'tech' and more to the idea of 'design'. Websites that were predominantly black with bold bright colours were becoming very fashionable and seemed to be the 'in' thing. The website below certainly shows us the transition between websites being only attached to the concept of computing, with it's attention to design and bespoke elements of graphic design giving it it's own identity.


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Simplysigns 2016 - 2017


As web design moved further away from the black and bold colours combination, the website is slowly lightening up. This is because web design decided to become a lot more minimalist overall, with lots of light airy spaces, clean lines, and controlled design. The idea wasnt to bombard the client anymore with the most eyecatching colours and movement, but to wow them instead with good clean modern design. This is something that I am glad has come about, as I personally was never a fan of the very dark websites that once ruled the web (although there are some amazing ones that when done well can look stunning). Thinking that it would be difficult to move away from the online branding we had attached to the company, I designed two iterations of the Simplysigns site - one in 2016 and then an improved version in 2017. Both of them hovered somewhere between being dark/bold and being light/minimalist. However, in January 2018 I did something very bold indeed.


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Simplysigns January 2018


I had only been with the company for 3 years at the time, but had been responsible for the website makeovers of 2016-2017 and wanted to do something different. As we got closer to the end of 2017, I kept thinking that the site needed one final push and a serious amount of style. So around Christmas 2017, I flat out deleted the old site (with no backup), and spent a solid week building an entirely new one. I would never recommend this to anyone! I thought to rip the band aid off and just start all over again. For the new design, I wanted to showcase a 'concept' - one that as a team with over 25 years experience we can create/manfacture/install a variety of things, and that creativity is our main drive. I wanted a very minimalist website which featured modern short video use, moving elements, and a definite style. With so many websites now being used to showcase a brands personality, I wanted to make sure our website alone created an impact. I also wanted our customers, new and old, to find the services and accompanying portfolio as quick as a click. This meant that the website became more of a portfolio site, which is exactly what our founder had wanted since the start. The new SimplySigns website was born, works beautifully on mobile/tablets/desktop platforms, and loads in an amazing 1.2 seconds. We have had many compliments about it and several customers who have been inspired by it, so we are glad it's working and getting the message across.


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Simplysigns - The Future


I can say with certainty that the Simplysigns website will continue to evolve and be remade as different trends and themes emerge in the web design scene. As a company who makes websites it is incredibly important that we keep ontop of this as things flow and develop in technology. So check back here in 10 years time, and maybe our current website will be a relic whilst we all use VR headsets to experience websites. You heard it here first.