Monday, April 02, 2007

The original Hotmail logo

Im going to go out on a limb here and call this Hotmail logo by a title which it truly deserves: The greatest animated logo ever.

Look at it. See the little "H" swooping off to the side? See the animated globe, and the postage stamp? It really does give off a certain promise of something bold, and something new.

Lets put it into context. On the 4th July 1996, when hotmail was launched, both Internet Explorer and Netscape were only on version 2.0, with little to no support for CSS and HTML was still in its infancy. Sites were generally pretty ugly. There was no such thing as Flash, and using animated gif's was the only way one would be able to accomplish something new.

The logo it full of design clichés, allow me to point them out:
  1. The globe. Remember the Netscape N on top of the earth with the asteroids shooting down in the background? Or, Internet Explorer with its animated world changing into an "e"? The globe was the obvious design cliché for the idea of international communication, and the information super highway as a concept.

  2. The postage stamp. What else would you use to explain something that had moved from the physical world, into the digital realm, other than the fray of a postage stamp.

  3. Lowercase lettering. I noticed this trend in 1996 while in my first job as a junior designer. The choice of all lower case letters seemed to be a silicon valley thing. Almost as though the designer and company were saying, we're a new start up, and haven't rolled out our first version yet.
Other interesting facts: The company wrote its name as HoTMaiL, in an attempt to communicate their HTML roots. The company was reportedly sold for $400 million in 1997, bought by none other than Microsoft. MSN still use the same typeface.


Rogan Ward said...

never thought about it quite like that. Rogan

Jason Gonzales said...

I totally agree that the original Hotmail logo is the best animated logo ever, beating even the original Netscape logo.

Near the top of the list of reasons I virulently hate Bill Gates and Microsoft is that they got rid of it.