LevelSubSection
Ref NoGUA/7/2/2
TitleProduction and design records of the Guardian website from 1998 (Guardian Unlimited) onwards
Datec1998-2018
Extent12 boxes, 3 CDs, 1731 webarchive, jpeg, png, html, rtf, PDF, ppt, psd and tif files (14.82 GB)
Creator NameGuardian Newspapers Limited
Guardian News & Media Limited
DescriptionRecords relating to the production and design of the Guardian website starting from the creation of Guardian Unlimited, launched in 1999. Records in this sub-section originate largely from members of the production department and Guardian Unlimited teams.

Includes records relating to strategy, project planning, design, statistics, user testing and production tools.
Admin HistoryThe Guardian’s online presence can be dated back to at least 1994 when the Guardian posted Edinburgh Festival reviews and articles on FringeWeb, a website which contained listings for Festival shows. The website proved to be a success and the following year the Guardian established the New Media Department (formerly the New Media Lab) to work specifically on The Guardian and The Observer’s online presence. Its remit was to look into alternative online publishing not just to put stories from the newspaper online.

The NMD produced a number of The Guardian’s early websites many of which were standalone and related to specific subjects or events. These included Recruitnet (recruitment website), football and cricket websites and a site for the 1997 UK general election. In 1997, the NMD began developing a new major online publication for The Guardian and The Observer that eventually became the network of websites under the brand of Guardian Unlimited (GU).

Guardian Unlimited was officially launched on 11 January 1999*. The website template and logo was designed by Neville Brody and Interactive Bureau. The first sites to launch were Football Unlimited, Cricket Unlimited, News Unlimited and Jobs Unlimited. Later additions to the network included Film Unlimited (March 1999), Education Unlimited (August 1999), Shopping Unlimited (October 1999) Books Unlimited (November 1999) and Money Unlimited (February 2000). Other major developments by GU included:

- The launch of a website for The Observer in April 2000.
- The launch of three B2B sites: societyguardian.co.uk, mediaguardian.co.uk and educationguardian.co.uk, 2000-2001.
- A rebranding in 2001 which included a URL change from guardianunlimited.co.uk to guardian.co.uk, new travel, politics, arts and sports sites launches and a redesign of existing sites.
- The launch the first paid-for website services, including a new digital edition of the newspaper and an advertising-free version of the site in 2003.
- The launch of Comment is Free in 2006, the first collective comment blog by a British newspaper website.

Between October 2005 and September 2008 work was undertaken on an ambitious project (known internally as R2) to rebuild and redesign the entire Guardian Unlimited website. The redesign was completed in house under The Guardian creative director Mark Porter. As part of this, the website was rebranded and renamed with the URL guardian.co.uk. Further details about the redesign can be found in an ABC of R2 published on the guardian.co.uk website at the end of the project: https://www.theguardian.com/help/series/an-abc-of-r2.

In 2010 the front page of guardian.co.uk was redesign to allow for more flexible use of photographs, multimedia, communities and reader comments. New law and global development website sections were also launched later that year.

The website URL changed from guardian.co.uk to theguardian.com in July 2013 to reflect its growing global presence following the launch of Guardian US (2011) and Guardian Australia (May 2013).

Further redesigns of the website took place in 2015 and 2018 following the move of the newspapers to a new tabloid format in January 2018.

Sources: archive records, The Guardian, The Internet Archive and Ian Mayes.
System Of ArrangementBy function.
Access StatusOpen(part)
Access ConditionsSome records are closed in line with the DPA and business confidentiality. See item level descriptions or contact the Archive for further information.
Related MaterialRecords relating to the Guardian's earlier websites managed under the New Media Department are catalogued at GUA/7/2/1.
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