The web is a terrible wife that will never let web developers forget their transgressions.
Even sober, we all do and say things we regret. But say something stupid in your blog or build a hideous website and you may have to live with it for the rest of your life!
Even if you persuade the people you built the site for to finally retire your web Frankenstein, the people at www.archive.org will preserve it for posterity.
They have created the "Way Back Machine", that allows you to revisit what any given website looked like from 1996 to a few months ago. Type in your web address and press the "Take Me Back" button and a time line of dates will appear.
This is scary stuff, the webxpress.com website in 1996 was not a pretty sight! It was typical of the time and before I worked out that programmers didn't make very good graphic designers and just because they knew how to use Photoshop it didn't mean it was a good idea to let them.
More frightening is the disk space this must be taking up, and all for no commercial gain. There are an estimated 55 billion web pages in the archive and that is terabytes of data.
In 1996 disk drives were expensive. Fortunately for the project disk space prices have fallen as dramatically as the web has expanded.
For a web developer using the Way Back Machine is a bit like going through your old family photo album and seeing yourself at your sister's wedding wearing a John Travolta suit and sporting a mullet (yes - I did have hair once).
If I only knew then what I know now, how much more successful would some of those old minging websites have been? But hindsight is a wonderful thing and for evolution to work mistakes have to happen.
Let's not forget, in 1996 Google had not yet been invented and Search Marketing was just someone's apocalyptical nightmare vision of the future web. The web was an IT playground and not the primary marketing channel it is today.
The really worrying thing is that some sites from that era are still online today. Despite beseeching their owners to have a redesign or at the very least take the words "site by WebXpress" off the bottom of their home page, these sites live on.
Even if your site is only a couple of years old, it will be next to useless by modern standards. If its content is not changing on weekly basis it is unlikely to find itself at the top of a Google results page.
The Way Back Machine provides what we used to call the information superhighway with it very own memory lane. But as well as providing nostalgic entertainment, it serves a very useful purpose, it reminds us of our crimes against web design, lest we forget our transgressions.