"What a long, strange trip it's been," said Rolling Stone on their 25th anniversary. The history of speedysnail hasn't been as long, and hasn't been much of a trip (given that it involved a lot of sitting at a desk without a hallucinogenic drug in sight), but it has been strange—if lurid cartoon snails set against a turquoise background count as strange.

Come with me now on a journey through speedysnail's past, as we wend our way through the inspirational and aquamarine index pages of yore. Enjoy a warm beverage from our café, admire the 100% cotton T-shirts in our gift shop (available in blue, turquoise, and bluish-turquoise), and relax to the soothing sounds of snail-song on our new line of chillout CDs.

speedy the first The first incarnation of speedysnail's index page in July 1999 looked much like this, with only a few minor changes over the first nine months of the site. It's still one of my favourites (apart from the aliased edge on the snail), but as the site grew it became hard to incorporate new features in the layout. And so...

speedy the second The second incarnation featured text links to the site's subsections and a randomly changing set of six (later seven) graphics. The page also listed the latest new features at the site. A reasonably flexible design, but it only lasted as long as seven months because I was too busy to replace it.

speedy the fourth The third, fourth (pictured), and fifth versions were all slight variations on a theme, with eight and then ten boxes linking to the various areas of the site; as I updated the design of those areas, the boxes on the front page also changed. The fourth incarnation acquired the fading-down effect in the background, reminiscent of how I used to shade the backgrounds in the panels of my cartoons. Perhaps that's why this is another of my favourite designs, and why I kept it for ten months despite its graphics- and bandwidth-heavy design.

speedy the sixth Design number six finally revealed the inspiration for the site's name: a humble key-ring. It also toned down the background turquoise a bit, reverted to a list of text links to the various subsections, and used table-free code at last. Not bad, but a little dull; within a couple of months I was already moving away from it. For a while I switched to a frame showing the latest new page of the site, but reverted to this design before moving on.

speedy the seventh Number seven was a modification of number six intended as nothing more than a temporary seasonal diversion. It lasted a month, only to be replaced by...

speedy the eighth Number eight, another seasonal place-holder, which lasted the shortest period of all: ten days.

Along the way, a few other elements came and went: a FAQ, the new at speedysnail page, a hand-tooled guestbook, and even a hidden extra in designs four and five (refresh the page to see both variants); all now superseded by the latest revamp of the ever-changing, ever-speedy and ever-turquoise speedysnail.

28 January 2002

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