Back in the early days of the web (Mid-1990’s), I remember going to a development conference and one of the keynote speakers said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If you want to see innovation on the world wide web, take a look at porn sites.” This got a good chuckle out of the crowd and got a lot of people saying that they couldn’t wait to get back to the office and do “research”. However, the points that were made did have some validity to them. Take a look at the few points below and you’ll see how much of an impact the adult industry had on the internet that we know and love today.
Highly Graphical/Experiential Websites
Web structure styles have changed over the years. In the beginning, websites were pretty boring. They were basically informational sites with lot and lots of text to read.
In time, they became very visually focused with in-your-face visual, but with minimal content.
Now the web is a hybrid of the two; content is still king, but it is presented in a visually appealing way. Adults websites were some of the first ones to include colorful and visual graphical elements to spice up the site’s appearance. Understandably, because of the nature of the business, you had to like what you saw.
Online Payments/Digital Subscriptions
Giving your credit card information to a website to make a purchase? Pretty common these days. But early on, it just didn’t happen. There were a few sites that did e-commerce and did it well.
Amazon, for example, started out as an online bookstore, and Dell Computers was the first company to record a million dollars in online sales. But these were only a few of the successes. Many who ventured into the e-commerce world either never got enough steam to become relevant, or crashed and burned.
Adult sites cashed in on site visitors who wanted to see more than the few free teases that were offered on the site. For only “a few dollars per month”, visitors would have access to large libraries of content that would be regularly updated. Virtually endless entertainment!
And since all of the content was digital, after it was produced once, visitors could download it over and over again. It wasn’t as though multiple copies of a VHS tape had to be reproduced and distributed and multiple editions of a magazine didn’t have to be printed, hoping that all of the copies would sell.
This was back in ’96. You can find this practice to be the provider of digital content thriving today with most of the subscription news sites, and digital music providers such as iTunes (which has only been selling music since 2003).
Streaming Video/Hi-Resolution Photography
Did you know that YouTube, pretty much the top streaming video site today, started in 2005 as a video-based online dating service?
But way before this, many adult sites existed solely to offer streaming videos of…performers. Keep in mind, this was taking place during the days of dial-up. With such slow connection speeds, the ability to push out full video was a feat, if not impossible. Many popular sites didn’t have the server horsepower to deliver large amounts of video content, let alone deliver it to multiple visitors, but adult site developers found a way and made it work. And sorry, but no, I’m not going to provide an example of a streaming adult video.
We all know what videos look like. Moving on.
Providing large photos of a good quality is something else that adult sites offered earlier than many. This of course goes back to the idea of needing to make visitors want to explore your site more. It probably wouldn’t have been profitable for adult sites to have small, grainy images. The adult print magazines were known for fullpage spreads to grab attention, so why should that mindset change for the online audience?
Compare the two webpages below:
Once again, these are both from 2001. The site on the right clearly shows you what you came to the site to see. The site on the left, which should be motivating you to want to buy a car, featured itty-bitty photos.
Fast forward to today and look at how Chevrolet’s site appears:
Now THAT makes me really want to explore cars deeper.
Those are just a few of the web trends that really got a boost when used frequently by the adult entertainment industry. Looking at how overall website design and functionality has evolved over the years, you can thank porn for a little bit of that. It just goes to show that unlikely sources can be the catalyst for new trends.
If you sense that your site is trending more in the 90’s once looking at these pages, it’s pretty safe to say, you may need a tad bit of a facelift. We work to stay updated on web trends to provide companies the most effective, relative, and up-to-date site style for their area of work. If you need help with evaluating your site and discussing where to go from where you are, we are here to be a part of that conversation and assist in that journey. Reach out and let’s start discussing!