How Successful Web Apps Have Changed in the Past Decade

Doing a bad job with web app building is the worst nightmare for beginners. But they seem not to realize that many start with a simple early version of their app, without having to worry about being perfect right off the bat. If you happen to be one of the first users of, let’s say Airbnb, you know how drastically different the Airbnb web app looked originally. And this is the case for almost any popular product or service out there. Of course, 10 years ago, web technologies didn't have all the capabilities they do now, but this is also about starting small and gradually iterating towards something bigger. So, here, we've selected some of the most well-known platforms to demonstrate how their look and feel has changed over the past decade. Some of the transformation cases will certainly surprise you (and perhaps make you feel a bit nostalgic 🙂).

Airbnb

It all started in 2007 when 3 friends, Brian, Joe, and Nathan wanted to earn some extra money by renting out an air mattress. In 2020, that extra money is estimated at 3,4 billion.


But it didn’t happen overnight. Founders had to put in a lot of work and innovation to make it happen. One of the primary things they did to reach this level of success was creating a web app.

website redesign example AirBnB in 2008

Previously known as AirBed&Breakfast, AirBnB’s website didn’t shine with its UX or UI, but it served the purpose. All the founders wanted was to have simple actions implemented onto their website with a shiny and round design common in the 2000s.


In later years, Airbnb started to focus more on customer experience and creating a user-friendly web app. They started to implement changes gradually by switching to flatter colors and square shapes. 


In 2021, Airbnb drastically changed its web design.


A much more interesting fact about Airbnb redesign is that it took Airbnb founders 2 years to realize that the core feature of their web app should be visual content. Since they’ve realized it, users tend to choose to book the rooms/houses much more often when they have visually-appealing looks and images.

Youtube

Before Youtube became a multi-billion dollar platform, it was just a goofy website where kids would post their videos for their relatives and friends to see. And the design of the web app matched the vibe.


In the early stages of development, Youtube had a tacky look and some basic functionality. You could publish a video, favorite it, land on the homepage, and open a tab. That would be it.


Today, Youtube is the powerhouse of visual content and its web app redesign has a lot to do with the earned title.

website redesign example Youtube

Now, YouTube's homepage features recommended channels, videos, and even playlists personalized solely for you. Navigation is also a major player in the platform. There are many categories and sorting options to find what you need, and the YouTube algorithm tailors the content to your specific preferences.

Twitter

Our next web app redesign example is Twitter. Twitter started its journey in 2006 and has turned into the open, real-time communication platform we know of today.


Here is where you can play around with Twitter’s earlier version. The web app had a simple design and a bit messy but a nice navigation system. 

website redesign example Twitter

Visually not much has changed in the platform but there are dozens of new features added to the web app. Those include are adding hyperlinks to hashtags, the ability to mention people, Twitter handles, verified accounts, Spaces, and more. All for the sole purpose of making the user experience more enjoyable and the web app more secure and easier to access.

Yahoo

Yahoo used to be one of the most used platforms worldwide. It’s an old but gold search engine that has been through many changes both visually and functionally.


There is a perfect word to describe how Yahoo looked in the 1990s and 2000s: messy. 

website redesign example Yahoo

Navigation was not the strongest aspect of Yahoo, but they had been working hard on making the platform a favorable and user-friendly web app and they surely made it.


Visibly, not many things have changed on the search engine to this day. They preferred to keep the simple look, got rid of all the glossy ads, and focused on giving good search results to their users.


Yahoo has also been famous for its strong navigation system that prioritizes context and hierarchical information architecture.

Amazon

Amazon is an eCommerce entity where most of the online shopping takes place. 


Amazon’s first website was simple and similar to other catalog websites of the 1990s. Some poor decision-making had taken place in terms of usage of white space, color palette, typography which resulted in a tacky web design with a poor navigation system. 

website redesign example Amazon

But nowadays, the UX/UI problems are partially solved. It wouldn’t be fair to move on without mentioning some of the UX/UI problems of the current Amazon website. The main concern of Amazon users is the items are crammed into a standard search result and product detail page, meaning the website is not engaging with you and has big issues with the algorithm. There are also issues like poor browse taxonomy, inconsistent 3rd party product images, single file search results, and more. 


Despite all the issues and challenges, Amazon remains one of the biggest and most popular marketplaces worldwide. Sure, it can be challenging to find the items you’re looking for, but navigation, sorted categories, and suggestions will help you find your desired products faster and get them shipped to you in no time.

Facebook

Almost 2 decades ago, Mark Zuckerberg built the first-ever version of Facebook, inviting students at Harvard and then the world to like, friend, share content on their every waking moment.


Like any other website mentioned in this list, the early stage of Facebook was as plain as it could get. 


There are so many things changed and added to the social network we would have to spend days and days breaking them all down. 

website redesign example Facebook

All you need to know about the web app redesign is now it’s fluid and fast, and the feed looks clean, neat. The current version of Facebook is all about fast navigation, a simple color palette, and dozens of functionalities it provides for the users.

Google

 It’s better than words to describe how essential Google is for the web today. 


Since the year Google was founded, it was widely known for its minimalist approach which hasn’t been changed much aside from the flattened logo, absence of the navbar, and related search results on the homepage. 


Visually, not much has changed over the years. But there are dozens of changes and new features below the surface. 

website redesign example Google

Google sets a perfect example of how you can have a neat and minimalist web design while being one of the most packed and comprehensive platforms of all time.

Hubspot

Hubspot has been dominating the SERP for a long time now. You can learn everything about marketing and sales on the platform, boost conversion and traffic by using their tactics and tools. But it was not always this way. 


In the beginning, Hubspot offered only a limited set of features. 


Web design matched the inner systems of the app: is simple and has little to offer. You get vivid information on what Hubspot is, can log in to your portal and that be it. 


Let’s go back to the future and talk about how full Hubspot web design is now. 

website redesign example Hubspot

Hubspot has a minimalistic UI and satisfying color palette. Similar to Google, Hubspot has a complex structure and many sections starting from free/premium tools to courses. That’s why their main attribute is a clean web design and a simple navigation system that helps to easily digest and quickly navigate through the portal without being puzzled.

Linkedin

With 750 million users, Linkedin helps individuals manage their professional identity, land dream jobs, acquire new skills, and much more. Linkedin is not one of those cases when success comes overnight. It took the company and web app a lot of tough work to earn the title of the world's largest professional network.


Let’s get back to 2004 when Linkedin’s website was first published and let’s take a look at the first LinkedIn homepage. 

website redesign example LinkedIn

The web page is simple with a little messy navigation system and doesn’t have rich functionality, basically, a typical website of the 2000s.


Linkedin stuck to its original version in its upcoming website redesigns.


Now, Linkedin is all about tags, filtering, personalization, and, of course, simple and beautiful design letting people find their business matches faster and showcase their milestones and skills in a better way.

Uber

Uber debuted as UberCab in 2010, it has gone through many web design phases that show how different values and issues of users were prioritized by the company throughout the decade.


Firstly, only available in San Francisco, Uber was getting more and more popular with a simple mobile and web design that, at the time, didn’t have much to offer.

website redesign example Uber

Over time, Uber has started to get sleeker while being minimalistic and all about customer satisfaction.


Uber sets an example of how not being afraid of drastic changes can positively affect your growth process.

Over time, Uber has started to get sleeker while being minimalistic and all about customer satisfaction.


Uber sets an example of how not being afraid of drastic changes can positively affect your growth process. 


As mentioned above, Uber had many redesigns. They went from being strict, with a rather cold color palette dominated by black, and switched to more warm tones all about their human power. This has made Uber more humane and closer to the users.

Doordash

Doordash is a highly popular online food ordering/delivery platform that currently has a 56% market share. 


The company started as Palo Alto Delivery in 2013, delivering food around the Stanford campus. Here is how the website looked like before and after the redesign.


Doordash had one of the most responsive and neat-looking early versions of web app design on our list. They’ve managed to turn user experience into one of the main keys to their success. 


If we take a look at how the Doordash web app looks now, you’ll get what we mean.

website redesign example Doordash

Doordash has more of a minimal, clutter-free, and state-of-the-art design. 


They also managed to create a user-friendly design that captures the user’s attention, enhancing the layout with color palettes, typography, and visual content.

eBay

The website was not well-organized. It had a cluttered design, heavy reliance on menu buttons. There is a solid color palette but the schema is not quite eye-catching and is rather eye-cutting. 


Throughout the years, the web design has drastically changed with additions of optimized navigation panels, visual divisions of the website, search bar. They have also started to use visual content, changed the color palette to be more pleasing to the eye, and match the brand identity. 


As a result of the great web app redesigns, here is how amazing the eBay web app redesign is:

website redesign example Ebay

Spotify

Next app we have Spotify: the world’s biggest streaming platform. Founded in 2006, Spotify has gone through many redesigns to reach where it visually is.


To get a grasp of how Spotify has changed, here is the 2008 version of the platform.

website redesign example Spotify

It’s not awful for a web app of 2008s. Though the navbar and the layout need some upgrades, it’s still appealing and user-friendly. They even managed to create a brand image with smart usage of visual content, color palette, and typography. It’s safe to say, the 2008 version of Spotify is one of the most successful early-stage website design examples on the list. 


The best thing, though, Spotify is getting better and better. It’s amazing how the platform manages to upgrade without ever disappointing its users. 


Over the years, Spotify has managed to outperform itself. 


The platform’s web design is close to perfect with parallax scrolling, optimized navigation system, minimalistic design, color palette with vibrant colors, dark UI.


We can’t move on to the next web app without mentioning how great the algorithm is. Spotify is making excellent use of its algorithm to understand the type of music someone prefers or listens to in the future. All in one purpose in mind: to recommend you your perfect song, playlists, or even a daily mix.

Canva

When we want to create beautiful and personalized CVs, posters, or presentations, the first place we turn to is Canva.


Canva’s web design has been evolving ever since 2013. What else could you expect from a design company?


One of the best things about the early version of Canva was the functionality. You could already edit and create a flyer, slideshow, poster, and much more.

website redesign example Canva

Visually, the web page looks just fine. It already has simple navigation, nude color palette. The layout is not messy thanks to white space, readable and cut-to-the-point content.


The stability and consistency are some of the key factors of Canva’s web design. It shows that they are reliable and trustworthy. Canva’s design approach stays timeless, which means they won't be outdated for a long time.


The freshest version of Canva is the outsmarted version of its early iteration. Now, Canva offers many features, templates, and images on its site to help people of all backgrounds create their projects. It is easy to use the site despite having a lot of things going on at once. 

Mailchimp

In 2001, when Mailchimp was first launched it had only one purpose: to help small businesses with HTML emails.


Since 2001, Mailchimp had gone through many big changes. The main reason behind their changes was to meet the needs of their customers, leading to a change in their brand identity and design system.


To understand how major the changes have been, here are the first and the latest version of Mailchimp web design.

website redesign example Mailchimp

Like any other website in the list, the first version of Mailchimp lacked a schema, the navigation system is messy, but, at least, it’s not too confusing.


Fast forward to 2021. Now Mailchimp is considered to be one of the best web apps in terms of both functionality and web design.  

The brand framework is made up of expressive elements that allow for creativity without sacrificing visual harmony. They reach this level of structured creativity by being consistent, playful, and expressive.

Notion

Notion is one of our favorite no-code tools to work with. It’s a no-code workspace that allows users to write, plan, collaborate, and be more organized.

 

From day one, Notion’s team has done its best to showcase the core values and brand voice of Notion through web design. And they succeeded in the task so well, we can’t wait to tell you all about it.

 

Notion is one of the freshest web apps on our list. Its first version was released in 2016. The brand framework is made up of expressive elements that allow for creativity without sacrificing visual harmony. They reach this level of structured creativity by being consistent, playful, and expressive.


The first version of Notion was already a success with quality web design, responsiveness, and flexibility. Notion 2.0 has introduced more quality and customizability to the product making a great customer experience one of the main prons of Notion. 

website redesign example Notion

The new version of the web app is sticking with being simplistic and responsive. Once you get hold of the tool, the navigation system becomes as easy as it gets. To make the work process even easier. Notion has many templates made to collaborate with your team and boost workflow. 

Airtable

Airtable is the innovation itself. Since 2012, the web app has managed to change the perspective of no-code and spreadsheets. We believe it would have been near impossible to build the no-code community and our tool for people to easily create their web apps and websites. 

 

Well, let’s get back to the web design of Airtable and see how it has evolved over the years.

website redesign example Airtable

Airtable’s UX and UI serve the web app’s main goal: to make spreadsheets more accessible, flexible, and customizable.

 

Like Notion, Airtable is also famous for its simplistic layout with a neutral color palette, but it has a much better navigation system compared with Notion. Visually, not much has changed in Airtable, but the additions of the functionality of the web app are through the roof. 


Though Airtable is not as flexible as Notion in terms of editing and styling your data, you can surely create visually appealing spreadsheets with integrated apps, custom views, many pre-prepared templates, both from Airtable and Airtable Universe

Miro

Miro is the last web app we’re going to talk about. Miro is a collaborative whiteboard to connect teams at any time, anywhere.


The visual collaborative platform has been great with its web design since 2012. The “it” point of the product was 2015. Here is how amazing the interface of Miro 2.0 looked like:

website redesign example Miro

As you can see, Miro 2.0 was already customizable, user-friendly. The tool also has a small learning curve so getting into it was never difficult.


Only last year Miro has managed to outdo itself in terms of web design and functionality. The new version of Miro is highly customizable with launched add-ons allowing teams with different workflows to customize the boards' functionality. Miro sets a great example with its customer-centric drive and always listens to its users' needs.


That’s how the big part of the redesign and additional functionality was put to work. If you want to get deeper into the topic, Miro has prepared a breakdown of how their huge product redesign has come about.

Final Thoughts


What we’ve managed to conclude today is becoming successful takes time. It could take months or even years depending on your skills and the size of your project. But it's much better to get an idea up and running than overthink! All you need is simple goals with straightforward solutions in order to turn your startup into reality.

About Softr


Softr is an easy-to-use no-code platform that turns Airtable bases into powerful web apps and client portals. Softr offers a way for you to authenticate your end-users, control access to your content and data based on conditional rules like roles, logged-in status, subscription plans etc. If you're using Airtable as a product catalog you can use a Softr template to build your e-commerce website. Or maybe you'd like to build a custom website for your travel journal, there's a template for that too!