Observing websites that are 10 to 15 years old, it's apparent that there have been significant changes in the ways websites are presented. These changes are a result of technical restraints being lifted as internet speed increases and people's better familiarity of how to use the internet.
Examining a couple of highly popular websites from the 1990s to the early 2000s, it's evident that there are a few notable distinctions, which are obvious upon a quick glance. Older sites don't feature anywhere near the same amount of pictures and other media items as newer websites. This is because internet speeds have rapidly increased, so web developers are much more comfortable about placing pictures and videos on sites.
Furthermore, older websites use an abundance of text to guide the user through the site because most internet users required an additional amount of guidance to navigate most webpages, while users in the late 2000s can navigate websites without text instruction.
Current sites tend to use icons to offer a minimalistic design, as opposed to using a lot of text to guide the user. One of the benefits of this approach is that the website doesn't appear overcluttered, and the user doesn't have to scroll through multiple pages. The average attention span of most website viewers is only three to five seconds, so an intuitive design is critical.
Websites from back in the day were able to get away with using a lot of text, as most readers had a longer attention span. However, if a current website tried to use the same techniques, most visitors would leave the site within seconds. Intelligent designers work hard to present the viewer with all the relevant information within a few seconds of loading the website.