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4 Years of Lowter: A Look through the Past

Today marks the four year anniversary of Lowter! It certainly has been a great four years chatting with good friends on the forums and watching the site grow immensely. For some of our older members, this blog post should remind you of some of Lowter's earlier days and for others it gives a perspective into Lowter's development. It is interesting to see how the site has developed from Lowter Studios (a mere hobby site) into the Lowter we know today.

Using archive.org (external link), my own code archives, and other resources, I have drawn together some screenshots of what Lowter use to look like. However, most of the screenshots are missing a lot of images and such, but they still give you a general feel of the layout.

Pre-2004: Avidgamers and Watchzine

Lowter had its origins on Avidgamers, a community development platform, where people could easily develop their own community websites (with forums, messaging, etc.). Avidgamers was a rather big community, with thousands of community websites and website-owners. Personally, I started off with an RPG site, before I moved on to starting my first web development resource community.

Screenshots of Avidgamers and Watchzine

In the early days, Lowter started off as the University of Scripting, a site dedicated to Avidgamer-related scripts and tutorials. The UOS (as it was called) was mildly successful, having a few thousand members from the AG community. However, the important aspect at AG was the team that developed to administer the UOS, which (for the most part) still stands behind Lowter. The development team behind the UOS was myself (Ethan), Matt, Daniel, and Tommy. Markus and Kristoffer were both only moderators at the time, if I remember correctly.

Another community worth mentioning is Watchzine (formerly the Watchtower). On Avidgamers, the Watchtower was a rather successful design and development community, quite well known amongst the older AG members. They decided to move the site off of the AG platform onto its own domain and platform, renaming the new site Watchzine. I myself was a very active member of Watchzine, even though I basically ran a competing website. In the end, Watchzine sort of ended and a few of the active members moved over to Lowter (particularly Frans and Tom). However, Watchzine, in my opinion, is an important part of Lowter's community history. I still miss Watchzine sometimes.

2004: Early Development and Lots of Dark Colours

When the UOS decided also to move off of the AG platform, we renamed the site Lowter Studios. Everything was custom developed, particularly with the help of Frans de Jonge and Matt Durnan from Watchzine, who both helped me a lot with coding. Every layout used dark colouring: black, greys, etc. I find the fact that every layout was dark funny considering everything I do now is bright and on a white background. Quite frankly, the older layouts I designed look awful now that I am looking back on them. Also, Lowter Studios had a number of internal layouts that the user could switch between, but I was not able to recover any of these sadly.

Screenshots of Lowter in 2004

Everything was rather chaotic at Lowter Studios when it first started up, with the direction of the site being rather hazy. However, it was a blast! The first day of being open to the public I can remember being up all night talking back and forth with Matt and Tommy (who, may I remind, took a picture of himself with his underwear on his head for his avatar) on the forums. It was only a hobby site really, but that made it exceedingly enjoyable.

Screenshot of Lowter in 2004

After awhile, we wanted to improve the image of Lowter Studios and focus more on web development and technology. In order to give a more professional feel, we changed the name to Lowter, dropping the "studios" part of our name. We also adopted the "L" arrow that we still use today. We used the red-grey layout for quite a long period of time; in my mind it is our "first" layout, as I consider Lowter before this layout as basically in beta.

2005 - 2006: Reaching Maturity

I should note that between the red-grey layout and blue-green layout below we had another design. However, I cannot obtain a copy of what this layout looked like. It was similar to the layout below, but the colouring was harsher and it had a lot of little icons (I honestly just have a huge folder of icons from this design).

Screenshot of Lowter in 2005 - 2006

Lowter further developed to focus again on a more professional feel. The newer design brightened up colours, reduced graphics, and worked better across different screen sizes and web browsers. Activity on the site started to slow down as our content requirements became more stringent (we wanted longer and better quality articles). We did a lot of experimentation, particularly with our newsletter, which we ended up discontinuing. The site was mature, selling ads, and receiving more and more traffic.

2007 - present: Professionalism and Future Developments

The layout is quite refined and organised, visually and code-wise. Everything is aimed to have a high level of professionalism. The members of the administrative team are starting to go their own separate paths in life, being occupied with school, friends, family, etc. However, this does not mean the end of Lowter any time soon; there is still much more beyond the horizon for our little web development community.

Screenshot of Lowter now in 2008

O! A toast to the four years of Lowter and a toast to the many years to come!

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Comments

  • I miss the Watchzine, every now and again I try to convince Frans that we should try and resurrect it (to no prevail...so far!).

    Looking through the different website layouts really shows how you have improved in terms of website design. You should produce a few tutorials on how to use CSS properly and how to make professional looking websites (as it is something you are obviously capable of doing). Of course this might encourage people coming along demanding Web 2.0 tutorials (God forbid).

    Posted by Tom (external link) on Wed 2 Apr 2008 at 19:19

  • I think part of the reason I liked WZ is because of the constant debates. It seems now I have simply molded to a slightly more European-like political view anyhow, so there seems less to debate I guess. I don't support Bush or anything like I use to, so that sort of constant debate has not carried over much to Lowter.

    Resurrecting WZ would be cool, as long as it was not web-dev related. I think though you'd need a lot of the other people, but I'm sure Frans has some contact with them.

    It is cool to see how much better my design skills have gotten. I do agree I can design professional websites, but I would also like to be able to develop more creative and artistic stuff. Alas, it seems I'm doomed to my current style. I could do some tutorials, if I ever get back to really writing like before.

    Posted by Ethan Poole (external link) on Wed 2 Apr 2008 at 21:46

  • I still like the 2005-2006 layout the best, but the colours are better on this new layout big grin

    Can't belive its been 4 years sick

    Posted by Matt Oakes (external link) on Sun 6 Apr 2008 at 17:28