The 10 Most Influential Websites

In today’s world, everything is run by the internet, whether it’s networking, getting information, finding the best restaurant, ordering food, watching Netflix, everything has to do with the internet, and in order to be on the internet, you need a website.

Here are 10 Most Influential Websites

10. Info.cern.ch

Created by “father of the web” Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 at the CERN research center in Switzerland, info.cern.ch isn’t much to look at today. But the archetype for anything is influential by default, and that’s certainly true of this, the spark for every website that followed. Still viewable today, the site spotlights features in the DNA of every modern website, including hyperlinks, a site map, an About-style page and contact information. We’ve made order of magnitude changes to the audiovisual aspects of web design since, but Berners-Lee’s basic thoughts on what a website should be still resonate nearly 30 years later.

9. eBay

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Amazon may run the world’s biggest online store today, but credit eBay for popularizing the idea of an open marketplace for buyers and sellers. eBay, which began life in 1995 as AuctionWeb, forever altered the way the world passed along and monetized used goods. And it paved the way for modern e-tailers like Etsy, which lets anyone sell their crafts or run a small business online. Amazon may be where we turn for paper towels, groceries and last minute holiday gifts, but it’s still eBay people scan to find vintage or scarce items, from rare pairs of sneakers to sold out iPhones.

8. Drudge Report

Matt Drudge’s eponymous “Report” is most famous for breaking the Monica Lewinsky story, but the site rarely posts news of its own. Instead, it serves as a conservative-leaning news aggregator, pointing to articles from across the web and putting an ideologically-spun (and irresistibly clicky) headline on them. Drudge’s barebones web design has changed little over the years, serving as a sort of living memorial to the days of dial-up Internet. But the site remains massively influential (and massively read) in Washington, D.C., influencing the agenda of Beltway movers and shakers.

7. Yahoo

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Years before “Google” became a verb, there was Yahoo. An early effort to bring order to the chaos of the Internet, Yahoo served as a sort of Yellow Pages for the web, with human editors selecting links to news stories and other sites. Google’s relevance-based search algorithms eventually resonated more strongly with users, plunging Yahoo toward irrelevance as its raison d’être dwindled. But Yahoo’s core idea — that something should help Internet users cut through all the noise to find a bit of signal — remains an essential tenet of online information curation.

6. Craigslist

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Long before finding a date by swiping your smartphone, browsing apartments on Trulia, or searching for part-time work through Indeed, there was Craigslist. The site remains a popular destination for real estate and job listings in 2017, with more than 60 million monthly U.S. users. Craigslist started as an emailed list of San Francisco-based events in 1995, which founder Craig Newmark expanded into a classified ads site and online forum. Its influences extend beyond the web, too: many attribute a significant part of the newspaper industry’s decline to the shift from print ads to online ones.

5. YouTube

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In retrospect, watching videos on the Internet seems obvious — monitors are basically tiny flatscreen TVs, after all. But it took YouTube to show the world that anyone could be a video star. Just as early blogging platforms made everyone a critic, YouTube (followed by Instagram and Snapchat) turned anyone with a smartphone into a video publisher. The impact has been immeasurable, both for better and worse: YouTube makes it easy to entertain ourselves, learn new skills or keep in touch with far-flung friends. But it can also be a haven for invective and hate speech, a problem the Alphabet-owned site continues to grapple with.

4. Facebook

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A website founded by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the early 2000s as a way to profile Harvard classmates has become the world’s largest social network. More than two billion users frequent the platform monthly, eclipsing alternate platforms like Tencent’s WeChat (968 million), Instagram (700 million) and Twitter (328 million). But the site has also evolved from a way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, to a medium through which both news and propaganda flow freely, mingling in ways that often make it difficult to tell one from the other. Facebook has pledged to do battle with so-called “fake news,” and says it’s refining the site’s processes to mitigate the spread of misinformation as well as clickbait

3. Wikipedia

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While your high school teachers and college professors may have taught you to doubt Wikipedia’s reliability, its rise to prominence since launching in 2001 is undeniable. With five million English entries, Wikipedia has become the de facto Internet encyclopedia. That said, Wikipedia’s openness — arguably what’s fueled its omnipresence — is also its biggest handicap. Since Wikipedia articles can be edited by anyone with Internet access, the platform is susceptible to bias or outright inaccuracy. But that hasn’t hindered its popularity: according to Amazon’s analytics site Alexa, it’s the fifth most trafficked website globally.

2. Amazon

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Amazon in 2017 is a retail and technology behemoth, selling everything from salad dressing to server space. But it began as a humble online bookseller, paving the way for all the e-commerce sites that followed. The company may not have pioneered concepts like browsing a digital “store” or filling up an online “shopping cart,” but the site helped e-tail break into the mainstream, and at a time when many consumers weren’t comfortable plugging credit card numbers into browsers. Amazon accounts for just 5% of U.S. retail sales today, but its market share is expected to surge as traditional players’ revenue dwindles.

1. Google

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Since its arrival in 1998, Google has become so ingrained in our vernacular that Merriam Webster added it to the dictionary as a transitive verb. The multinational tech firm has become synonymous with the notion of researching anything — you don’t “look something up online,” you “Google” it. And it remains the web’s most pervasive search tool, accounting for 97% of the mobile search engine market and 79% of desktop search engine use, according to recent data from Net Market Share.

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About the Author: Allena Prilia Begista

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