Ah, the wisdom of The Simpsons.
That quote features into a presentation I’ve been putting together at the office that recaps our site history for folks. It’s aimed at providing the context—the “where we are” and “how we got here” bits—leading up to the current redesign.
Come this May I’ll have been at BusinessWeek for two years. In that relatively short time I’ve managed to research my way through a hefty swathe of the site’s decade-plus past as we’ve laid the foundation for it’s next major phase of life. When you’re looking for where the bodies are buried, poking around the darker back alleys of the servers, things can turn into an edifying jaunt down Web Trends Memory Lane. Pick away at the strata and entire epochs—and merciful blips—unfold before your eyes. “Hey, here are those two months when people actually thought Comet Cursor was cool.” Shudder.
The table layouts and spacer GIFs didn’t come out of nowhere though. As any historian will tell you, it’s important to have context. I always make sure to remind myself of that when I’m untying all these old knots. The tools that went into the site at any particular moment in time are merely a reflection of what was going on in the environment.
And for a long time all we had were lemons.