How can I see what my website looked like five years ago?

Posted on September 5, 2019

 

Websites should always be fluid, which means that in most cases, they should look a little different now to how they looked in 2013 or 2014, but is there an easy way to see how much yours has changed in that time?

Perhaps you want to look at a site that’s now been taken off the internet, or recover some old content that’s been replaced? Maybe you simply want to look back and appreciate how much your site has changed over the last few years?

Go Wayback

If you’re not familiar with it, the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine is probably one of the most useful tools on the net. Whatever the website might be, the Wayback Machine is likely to have crawled it several times since its inception, and archived the site exactly as it appeared at the time.

How to find an archived version of your site

If you’d like to delve into these blasts of your website’s past, simply follow these steps:

1. Go to the Wayback Machine website.
2. Paste in the URL of the site you’re looking for and click ‘Browse History’. We’ll use the Engage Web site for this example.
3. You should now be told how many times archived versions of your site have been saved, and within what time period. As the below screenshot shows, ours has been saved more than 400 times since June 2012. That’s just before we rebranded as a company, so it’s pretty much the entire history of the site.

4. On the calendar, you can click any date with a coloured circle around it to see a snapshot of the site from that date. The blue circles work best, because the green ones involve redirects, and any orange ones mean the URL wasn’t found (this might be the case if the domain was registered but the site wasn’t up and running).

Using the tool, here’s a link to what the homepage of the Engage Web site looked like on March 7th, 2013. As you’ll see, it’s a lot wordier and busier than the current homepage. Sites have moved towards cleaner and less cluttered design in recent years, particularly with the rapid growth of mobile internet in mind.

Personally, I’ve found this tool especially useful when a new client comes to us after letting a previous domain expire. It allows me to visit the old website, check with the client what information from it is still relevant, and discuss anything that needs to be changed to bring the content on the site up to date.

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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