As the University embarks on the third renovation of its web presence, and at the end of the 40th anniversary of the merger of STJC and UH, it seems like an opportune time to revisit how the University’s web presence has changed over the years.
Of course, before the mid-90s most institutions had no web presence at all; the Internet was by and large for research groups to talk to one another. But after the creation of HTML and the revolution it caused in the way that information was presented and shared over the Internet, there was a “population explosion” of new webpages and search engines (Yahoo! being one of the most long-lived). By 1997, most universities had a website, although they were all in HTML and therefore very simple by today’s standards. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine can help us see the past websites of UHD. Starting in 1997, UHD “piggybacked” on the University of Houston website with the address www.dt.uh.edu. In 2000, however, the University decided to begin hosting its own site and www.uhd.edu was born. The first standalone website was still simplistic by the expectations of 2015; there were no forms or portals. Library research within academic journals was still mostly done via CD-ROM.
In 2009, however, with the advances in website design beyond simple informational pages and into the “social” needs of users, the University renovated their site to include more interaction and online tasks. The new site was much larger as well (just before we began our current renovations, the site contained over 7,500 distinct pages).
Now, six years later, we embark on another renovation of the website, as the web design industry has shifted its focus yet again. From the informational sites of the mid-90s, to the social sites of the early 2000s, and now onto the idea that websites should act as “stories”, our website is expected to form an engaging picture of the organization, rather than just act as a place to store or input information.