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XDA Through the Years: A Visual History

Since its inception in 2003, xda-developers has changed, evolved; what started out with a handful smartphone enthusiasts now boasts over 4 million registered members, of which over 20,000 are online at any given time. And, it’s still growing like crazy: the record for “Most users online” is broken every two months or so, currently standing at 31,552. All this, of course, has a lot to do with the fact that smartphones are becoming ever more important – a development probably best illustrated with the HTC HD2.

But webdesign has also changed a lot in these more than eight years, XDA being no exception. With the help of a time machine, let’s go back to 2003…

The beginning

Chances are that this design looks familar to you, even if you haven’t been around here since 2003. This is because, at the time, xda-developers was just a simple, phpBB-based forum with the standard template, which, even now, many small sites are still using.

It was sometime in early 2004 that XDA’s signature color scheme, consisting of yellow, orange and brown, was introduced. As you can see at the top right of the above screenshot, a “Donate” button has been added as well; in fact, the linked page is still the same, and hasn’t been changed in all these years.

Also in 2004, the frontpage, dubbed “news service”, went live. It was based on the existing forum software.

A year later, we’re now in 2005, and you’ll notice that sub-forums for the various devices have been added.

In fall 2006, the forum finally switched to the more powerful vBulletin, a commercial software, as opposed to the free and open source phpBB. The design, though, remained largely the same, and wouldn’t change at all for years to come.

However, the number of new devices increased steadily, and XDA’s popularity skyrocketed – so much, in fact, that the usernames shown under “Currently active users” had to be hidden in late 2008 because they were slowing down loading times.

The now

Fast forward four years, and February 16th, 2010, marked the first step towards a new and reimagined XDA: the new portal, finally independent from the forum and instead based on the popular blogging software WordPress, launched.

A few days later, on February 25th, the big forum redesign went live after an extensive public beta.

The future

Here the story ends, for now. It’s been over a year and a half since launch and relaunch of portal and forum, which, in internet terms, is a long, long time. Rest assured: We’re not standing still.

(Just in case you’re wondering: I, unfortunately, neither own a time machine, nor have I been around here since 2003 and captured and stored screenshots for every single redesign. Instead, I used the excellent Internet Wayback Machine.)

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