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There was plenty of good graphical design on the web in the 90s. There was also a lot of bad graphical design which usually gets highlighted today.

There was an underlying issue that web design was difficult before browsers supported CSS 2.1 well. You really couldn't get HTML elements to fit a graphical design reliably. CSS 1 didn't really have the ability and table layouts were pretty coarse. Using raster graphics was pretty much the only way to get fancy designs to look right across browsers.

My issue is mostly with the raster graphics themselves that companies used to try and enhance their sites, rather than the layout or typography of the sites, which is pretty easy to explain away due to the technical limitations of the time. Just lots and lots of head-scratchers from otherwise competent organizations.

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