Not quite as bad as the OP's link, but still--that was a high-profile professionally designed site in 1996.
I started out making web sites a bit like this myself i 1995, and it makes me sad all pages are gone except a few pages left in the internet archive.
Then there's the official Space Jam site (the movie with Michael Jordan, you might want to ask IMDB) which is still up (Kudos to WB:) http://www2.warnerbros.com/spacejam/movie/jam.htm Click around there to see some spinning buttons and other "nice" stuff.
Prodigy user TMDW48C checking in.
There was so much more excitement all around. The technology was arcane compared to what's possible today, but most of the bad stuff was missing. People were looking for ways to use, not abuse the internet.
There were barely any lawyers, marketers or managers who felt the need to interfere. Things were driven by sysadmins and their curiosity, just governed by gentlemen's agreements and common sense.
You could go on irc (with mIRC) and talk to strangers who where thrilled about talking to people around the globe. Like chatroulette or whatever but without the dicks and trolling.
I remember discussing scientific stuff, Harry Potter, and the new online games with people on Yahoo chatrooms and IRC.
I took a look at Yahoo chatrooms some time recently (well, in the last five years anyway.) It was horrible; spambots all over the place trying to get you to click on links. I suppose all the real people moved to Facething.
However, it was only (mostly?) like that for personal/very-low-budget pages. It's not like all designers back then had suddenly lost their sense of aesthetic.
It's not very different from the MySpace profiles of a few years ago.
On a side note: I really miss styling scrollbars and running marquee text through the website title and status bars
It's a shame that half the ugliness goes away since images aren't all cached. You also have to view it on a 800x600 display for the real experience.
The professional web was bad back then, but usually in slightly different ways. For instance, there were a few years where it was incredibly common to have a splash page that did nothing but show a logo (and take 45 seconds to load). Splash pages became a bit of a trend in part because there was an influential (but terrible) web design book that recommended making your user see a completely useless page before letting them get to actual content.
It was like any new technology. People played with it and used it in stupid ways while they figured out how to use it. Some people learned faster than others.
This bought a tear to my eyes, right before the burning, but it's very nice.
Also, did I see rounded corners and the lack of nested tables?
That it still is reactive makes it even more surreal.
Then I realized that we just call them "the comments section" now and put them on every article.
Just kidding, this is terrible. Great work!
Has anyone done the HN redesign yet? There seem to be plenty of choices for voting arrows. (http://netanimations.net/arrows.htm#.UWHUTKLrwcA)