Jane McGuire

Hotcourses then and now

Hotcourses then and now

First published date September 16 2014 Amended date February 22 2016

When it comes to web design we spent ages thinking of fun things for you to read and bugged our wonderful designers for ideas. Despite their interesting suggestions (‘fun fonts of 2014’ and ‘the best yellow websites’) we decided to look back at our own website to see how the design has changed over the past fourteen years. Thanks to ‘The Wayback Machine’ you can track your favourite sites back to their humble beginnings – who remembers what the first Facebook looked like, when you had to have the irritating ‘is’ in your status and your profile picture was on the right? For Hotcourses, a lot has changed as we’ve grown up. 


August 2000 – Hotcourses was born 

The baby website with its long forgotten red theme and fun professor in the corner. We all remember the days of painfully slow plug in broadband (a frantic hour on msn before your parents disconnected the hub), when connecting to the internet meant you cut off your land line. Before the internet became as fast as it is today there were restraints on web design, meaning less images and colours could be used. The days of table based layouts meant designers were restricted in what they could do with a site. Text was often divided into columns and rows and dancing GIF’s mark this period. 



May 2001 – The age of JavaScript

With the rise of JavaScript came more artistic freedom. Navigation bars moved to the top of the page, allowing users to be drawn to the course search we all know and love. Usability became more important with the introduction of more support for the CSS, meaning sites could load quicker and have a less complex code. What’s more, by now the Hotcourses logo had undergone a redesign too. 



August 2003 – The age of the user

Everything is still a little rectangular and colours limited, but designers had more power in the design of the website. With the addition of the browse bar down the side and the more complex search, by 2003 web design really did become all about the user. 



November 2004 – Simplicity is key

By now savy web designers realised that most users do not read everything on the site and what was important should be made clear in the design. Note that by 2004 the search had become the focus of the page, with little content and images to distract the user. 



August 2008 – Creating content  

Fast forward four years and things have changed dramatically, with a simple design and an optimised search; Google began to notice the importance of content on web pages, so in came the writers.



October 2012 – The power of the photo

What is it they say – a picture is worth a thousand words? By the end of 2012 Hotcourses was transformed with rotating photos and larger buttons. 



June 2014 – The responsive site

And then we reach 2014 – an age where everything is responsive. Who opens their emails or looks for a course on a PC anymore? With the rise of wifi and fast, instant browsing adapting websites for mobile sites has given designers new challenges. These changes have given our web designers the freedom to add more photos and create a much prettier Hotcourses.




If you see yourself as a designer of the future, why not sign up on a web design course and get creative? Who knows what’s coming next...

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.