The Internet has changed massively in the past decade – for a start we’re not connecting via a 56k modem! Websites have come around, and disappeared from the landscape just as quickly. Here, we look at a couple of sites that were popular back in 2003, whether they’re still popular now, and the features that have kept users coming back for more.

By 2003, the Internet had well and truly established itself as one of the great resources available to the masses.

Websites had proved themselves to be viable tools for businesses, and although the dot-com bubble had seen a significant audience overestimate the value of some of the earlier online companies, it was already apparent that eCommerce would play a large role in the on-going objectives of many organisations.

Unsurprisingly some of the favourite sites of 2003 still stand out within the Web’s ever-growing metropolis.

Overtime they’ve furthered or refined their offerings, bolstering reputations and developing an enduring popularity amongst consumers along the way.

Amazon.co.uk circa 2003

Amazon.co.uk circa 2003

Amazon.co.uk, for example, was the top department store website in 2003.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength.

This can largely be attributed to the company’s excellent customer service, its extensive range of products and the tools that it provides to make it more enjoyable to browse and easy to convert.

Its system of recommendations shows selections of products popular with people who have purchased items similar to those being viewed by shoppers. This encourages people to try new products.

Recommendations decrease the risk that shoppers won’t enjoy their new purchases.

Amazon also implements an unbiased product review system, which allows customers to research a product thoroughly without leaving the page or website – all of which can aid conversions.

Meanwhile, its user-orientated eCommerce platform – Amazon Marketplace – allows retailers to run a business without having to go through the pain of setting up a website of their own.

The year 2003 also saw the foundations laid for social networking as we currently know it.

The Facebook, as it was originally called, wasn’t launched until 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg; in fact, the first major player was MySpace.

Myspace.com circa 2003

Myspace.com circa 2003

MySpace was designed to allow users to easily interact with their friends. However, it really excelled in allowing people to discover and expose their friends to new music.

MySpace was an online sensation, enticing celebrities and users in their droves.

Advertisers spotted an opportunity to market to the masses through social media marketing campaigns conducted via the site too.

Within three years of its launch, it was attracting more visitors than Google, but just five years after its launch it was surpassed by Facebook.

Although still making a profit at that point, it wasn’t long before the site started to see a downturn in fortunes.

And by 2011 it was purchased for $35 million – a far cry from the $580 million price tag it attracted in 2005.

With so many sites coming and going, it may come as a surprise that the landscape over the last decade has not seen as many drastic changes as one might have expected.

Existing websites have been able to maintain their market share becoming more appealing through user experience (UX) and responsive web design.

Efforts have been made by some companies to develop versions compatible with mobile Internet devices, such as smartphones and tablets too. This has also helped to keep conversion rates high.

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