Our inaugural home page emphasized simple, intuitive user function, circa 1996.
Our inaugural home page emphasized simple, intuitive user function, circa 1996.

RoadsideAmerica.com: Web Site Launches

In September 1996, we officially launched Roadside America's web site of offbeat attractions and essential travel advice. In the early days of the web, before social networks, free online maps, or even reliable search engines, no site offered coherent guidance to America's wealth of roadside wonders. We'd written a couple of books, but our 1,000 page manuscripts were always boiled down by bean-counting publishers into much shorter, theoretically attractive trade paperbacks.

It seemed important in the 1990s to print out our whole site -- in case the web suddenly disappeared.
It seemed important in the 1990s to print out our whole site -- in case the web suddenly disappeared.

In 1994, we conducted the world's first virtual vacation for Wired magazine's web site, and got a taste of online publishing, sending nightly uploads from the road of our attraction reports, photos and video.

The original web site came together in about 8 months, with the goal to start with great content from our travels in all 50 states, along with amusing special features; about 300 web pages (with no "under construction" signs) greeted our first online readers.

The initial home page in 1996 was a cartoon with clickable areas, centered around a tornado flinging a giant buzz saw blade above our road trip guru, the "Travel Brain."

Even 20 years later, it's hard to find a usability flaw in this conceptual tour de force*.

* This line was written by the cartoonist.

[DJK, 2016-9-1]

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January 17, 2017

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