Sebastian Payne

The Spectator website through the ages

How has The Spectator weathered the first 25 years of the web? In Simon Courtauld’s excellent history of this magazine To Convey Intelligence 1928-1998, he explains how the magazine’s website was born under the direction of Kimberly Fortier:

‘Under Fortier’s influence, The Spectator’s Doughty Street house adopted a new look in 1998, with its 18th-century front door and fanlight painted bright red and, at its summer party to celebrate its 170th anniversary, a huge red bow festooned the facade. On the same evening lights were beamed on to the draped bookshelves of the literary editor’s office, announcing that The Spectator now had its own website on the Internet. It was fast becoming the very model of a modern weekly magazine’

And thanks to the Internet Archive, here is the first ever Spectator website in all of its 1998 glory. It was mostly a promotional site for the print magazine, with a few familiar faces on the ‘About Us’ page:


The same style remained until 2001, when an expanded operation replicated the Contents page of the print magazine, with the articles available to read to anyone:


2004 saw another redesign, taking the website more assuredly into the twenty-first century — there is even a rudimentary paywall making some content only to subscribers:


A year later in 2005, the first web-only content goes live with the ‘Spectator Live’ section, in this shot revealing the results of a Michael Howard cabinet shuffle:


Another redesign took place the next year in 2006, bringing the website more in line with the style of the print magazine at the time:


In 2007, our now political editor James Forsyth launched the Coffee House blog, which you can see promoted on the home page.

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