We made ourselves a new website for our 20th BirthdayJune 29, 2020 –
Do you remember using the internet in the year 2000? The millennium bug had been and gone and the dot-com boom was underway so new websites were popping up left, right and centre. But how many of those websites from 2000 can say they survived the world of dial up (I don’t think I will ever forget that screeching sound for the rest of my life) and download speeds that would make you weep?
entitledto is extremely pleased to have done what Friends Reunited, Ask Jeeves, Vine and even Google+ couldn’t and not only survived the times but also done a cracking job of helping millions of people access an ever evolving but always complex benefits system at the same time.
Our public website alone has seen 4,244,565 completed calculations in the last year, and many more will have been done on our fantastic clients’ websites, so we think total calculations over our 20 year history could easily be 10 times this amount.
I asked our two directors for their memories of the early days of the website and founder and Technical Operations Director, Stephen Gibson told me "Inspired by my mother’s years of service as a Citizens Advice volunteer, helping those in need was built into my DNA. I started to develop entitledto in 1998 building its servers and deploying them to the web. In 2000 it was very exciting to publish the first version of the site - a one stop shop that would revolutionise information about the social security benefits system at the time.
"My previous experience had led me to recognise an adequate service wasn’t being provided to people and so my first goal was to ensure the site was accurate but also easy to use by people without benefits knowledge so that it improved awareness and helped people to understand their entitlements.
“This continues to be the case today and, as the rules have changed over the years, the calculator has allowed millions of people to navigate the UK’s ever changing welfare safety net at a time they need it most. I’m really proud to have done that alongside a great range of experts who have worked on the website with me.”
Product Development Director, Dr Phil Agulnik, remembered “When Stephen set up entitledto I was working for the DWP and creating spreadsheets showing how benefits worked. His decision to provide a free, online calculator was miles ahead of its time.
“When I first saw the site in 2003 I realised that my benefit spreadsheets were old hat. Stephen's online benefit calculator took away all the pain of calculating benefits. And because it was free for everyone to use it meant that people could become better informed about their entitlements. It was, and hopefully still is, a brilliant way for people to find out what benefits they are entitled to.”
So what about our goal for the next 20 years? We want to reach as many people as we can and we will continue to play our part in helping people understand what their legitimate benefit entitlements are as we strongly believe social security is a key aspect of our society and a vital part of our modern communities.
We also plan to remain independent, reliable and, maybe most importantly, accurate. Over the years we’ve always kept up with the changes taking place in the welfare world so we can give the best information to our sites users but we’ve also aimed to keep up with the changes in the technical world.
The responsive design of the calculator ensures users have the best possible experience whether they are accessing the calculator from a mobile, tablet or desktop but we knew the rest of the website needed a bit of a refresh. So, as a 20th birthday present to ourselves, we have launched ourselves a shiny new website.
But before we head off into the future we wanted to take a moment to peer into our past with a look back at part of some of our previous homepage designs. We apologise to your eyeballs in advance but these really were cutting edge designs in their day!
2000 - The first website had pictures of Stephen and his family and friends
2000 - Not long after the photos were in colour and tabs were added to help with site navigation
2004 - Until this point each benefit had its own calculator but 2004 saw them evolve into one for the under 60s and one for the over 60s
2007 - Things were simplified as we moved to one calculator for everybody and we tried a new colour for a while
2013 - A new colour palette again and we're starting to see the page split into the panels we might recognise today
2016 - Bolder panels signposting people to our range of services
2017 - The first version of the design that was still in place until last week
2020 - We wonder where the next 20 years will take us?