20 years online – our digital retrospective

Web Adept has recently celebrated 20 years online!
Does it feel like yesterday? Well, a huge amount has happened since our training business morphed into a fully-fledged web design and digital marketing agency.
We’ve grown up with the internet – and because a bit of nostalgia is always fun (even if it’s fun in a cringey kind of way), we thought we’d have a look back at how much has changed and developed since Web Adept first opened its doors.


The laptops and tablets we use today would be unrecognisable to our child-selves – when you were lucky enough to have a Commodore 64 or a Sinclair at school. Who remembers programming a computer to run a script down the screen?

It seems incredible that 20 years ago, it could be cheaper to build your own computer than to buy one from Compaq or IBM. Laptops did exist, but they were heavy and clunky and frankly, not great!

The internet

We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the internet, and yet… 20 years ago, the internet was a completely different beast to the superfast (sometimes) information hub and communications channel it is today.
In 1997, the world wide web was 6 years old but there were no home internet connections in the UK in 1997 (the first connection didn’t happen until 2000).
Our business concentrated on building websites and developing them to make the most of this exciting new world of online activity. We could see the possibilities – and we were there working with other businesses that had the same vision.

Mobile phones

We had mobile phones back in 1997. Well, not us personally, but they existed. Huge brick like devices that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a WW2 battlefield – certainly by modern standards. 20 years online has changed all that.

One thing is clear – it’s extremely unlikely that 20 years’ ago, anyone really thought that mobile phones would be the primary way people accessed the internet, bought clothes, food and holidays – doing many of the jobs that hadn’t really even been thought of for computers at that stage. Making phone calls? Who does that anymore… In 1997, Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple, so things were very much about to change…

Social Media

Social what? Friends Reunited, often thought of as the precursor to social media, didn’t appear till 2000, and Facebook wasn’t launched in the UK until 2005. Facebook was initially only available to people in 21 universities – verified by their academic email address.

Perhaps a precursor of the way internet usage would develop, the appearance of news sites in the late 1990s paved the way for the internet to become the information sharing platform that it is – whether that’s news, messages, or digital marketing.

Digital Marketing

Was there even digital marketing in 1997? Well yes, although not necessarily ‘digital marketing’ as you would recognise it today. It was about the basics – gaining a presence. Having a website that reflected your business, attracted the right customers, and held their attention was what it was all about.

While digital marketing focused on building websites back in 1997, things were about to get a lot more complex. Google appeared in 2007, alongside existing search engines such as Yahoo – the battle of the search engines was on! 

Lessons for the Digital Future from 20 years online

There’s a lot to be said for growing and developing with the internet, with digital marketing – with 20 years online under our belts, we should know! It’s given us the flexibility to adapt as changes come.
The pace of changed has become phenomenal, and we have learnt to assimilate the latest tools, strategies and best practice, and offer the most up to date advice to our clients.
In 1997, many of the challenges were the same as we face today both as business owners and as marketers.
We hope we’ll be here for another 20 plus years online, offering web design and development and digital marketing services to our many and varied clients both locally to our offices in St Davids, Hereford and London, and across the UK, Europe and the world. If you’d like to ask about our web and digital marketing services – get in touch!

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