For example, I remember the split frame layout (nav on top or left, body in remainder) dominating web layouts for a long, long time -- the CSS float to keep navigation "on top" was really just mimicking that for a lot of people.
Similarly, pop-up windows were such a huge thing for a long time, whether it was for a music player, or for site navigation, or just links opening in little miniature windows meant to be hovered over the main page so that you never "left."
The closest that any of those sites come to capturing the "feel" of the internet in that time for me is probably the Microsoft Games site.
Incidentally, one of them looks really broken: https://www.webdesignmuseum.org/gallery/true-is-true-2001
Oh god if only the modern web was 10% as light-hearted as this was
If you wanted to look at good design back then, you went to fray.com, glassdog.com, 0sil8.com, zeldman.com, and others I don't remember. Oh boy those were the days...
I'm a very nostalgic person in general (due to health issues now making me face mortality etc) and I think the late 90s online scene was the most incredible "scenes" I've ever experienced. Everyone was a hacker, and everything was customised and modified and tweaked to within an inch of its life. These days it's a mission to even theme your OS to how you want it, but in those days running anything "stock" was almost a crime.
It's a real shame to look at where our interfaces with technology went. From the modern web to modern OS design to modern app design, it's all just so illogical and... shallow? Like a celebrity's fake face and smile. I'm not sure what the word is.
Linux seems to be one of the last places where you can find efficient and intelligent design (most of the time :P), and an encouragement to customise and modify to your liking.
But yes, that era did have a lot of over-design as well, and we've studied and progressed UI/UX in a lot of truly awesome ways in recent times. I just wish we'd get past this "minimal" crap.
Even though such capability can be abused, it's kind of depressing to still miss this option in most projects due to time, etc. from a graphic design standpoint.
It's great that, for how avant garde this stuff was, it still works great in modern browsers.
It's a surprise that zeldman isn't on there, his site is still going strong.
What was interesting to see was kottke.org that's been showing up on HN for a long time 
It was truly an exciting time where the differences in design and style for websites were big.
Today, you don't really see personal websites anymore, and things have somehow become streamlined and pretty much just standard. There is hardly any wow effect on the web anymore, and that's sad I think.
Edit: some examples...
Think there is a way to get the same effects without turning a page scroll into a page load?
And the distribution networks greatly penalize personal websites. Anything to stop your friends and followers from clicking away from The Platform. It's sad and I believe has killed many a promising blog.
Also this joke has a lot of truth to it: Which of the 2 possible websites are you currently designing?
we can thank blogs (blogspot/blogger/etc)and then social media for that.
Sometimes if I see a web site I think might be too ambitious, I'll open it on each of my testing machines in different browsers, and about 70% of the time, my hunch is right, and it either fails on one or more, or the output looks significantly/unusably different.
A bit further back (maybe a year or so?), I've also had issues with Youtube and my bank's website. Both of those seem to have been fixed, though.
But have we really reached the end of evolution in web design now? The best looking sites now look mostly the same. Nice fonts, spacey, elegant color scheme.
Maybe the next big trend is command line interfaces on the web. :)
The blocky text rendering was a significant part of the look and feel of those websites.
The facebook pic in the top banner is cool how it fades.
Why is modern design better? It is just the mobile aspect?
Less clutter and visual distractions once you block adverts. Also much much easier to navigate with a consistent design guideline vs having every page randomly assembled with no oversight. Standardised components and design also makes larger websites possible without having to manage 1 billion pages and elements.
And pixel fonts for the win.
I’m glad I no longer have to wait for Flash to finish loading, or to figure out the navigation of whatever site I’ve landed on, but things are less interesting now.
For me it fits into the same early 2000s movement pushing the boundaries of digital expression as The Designers’ Republic did in graphic design and Warp Records in Music.
Saying that advertising a CD burner is inciting copyright infringement is like saying that advertising a knife’s sharpness is inciting stabbings
By the time I was 17 I literally pirated a million dollars of software.
I would love to see this expanded to different genres of sites too. I've noticed that (niche) fashion websites have their own aesthetic that is a bit divorced from the mainstream. I'm sure we're all aware that Asian design trends are also very different.
Also, the page buttons at the bottom aren’t working for me (I’m using safari on iphone x).
Nice site altogether :)
Adobe's old web sites still look quite good.
Companies that have both are the ones with the sites that stand the test of time.
I still really like some of the design trends back then. I think a lot of it was because they only had to work on desktop.
I also like those old isometric pixel drawings that were so popular. It was fun to play with as a kid because you could pretty easily follow along with paint, albeit with a lot lower quality.