October 22, 2021
BY BEAU BECRAFT
Ah, the internet. It’s arguably one of the world’s greatest resources. It’s a great way to educate, share life updates, grow your business, become a viral sensation, and so much more. It’s also chock-full of history. Sometimes (like reviewing your Facebook posts from 2007) looking back on that history can be a bit, well, cringeworthy. But it can also be a great reminder of just how far you’ve come. Such is the case during the Knapheide marketing team’s recent review of Knapheide.com via The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, an archival site devoted to scrolling through the evolution of countless websites throughout the years.
It’s admittedly a bit laughable to see what was considered a “cutting-edge” website 20 years ago when compared to the current aesthetic and availability of resources on our website today. Let’s take a deep breath and revisit Knapheide.com in December 2001. After all, what’s life if you can’t occasionally poke fun at yourself?
It’s the diamond tread plate for me.
Serving as a fairly straightforward landing page for Knapheide customers, the Knapheide.com homepage served its purpose perfectly by providing visitors all the pertinent contact information needed to secure a Knapheide truck body for their work vehicle. In addition, our rich and storied history on the main page made customers aware of our dedication to perseverance through decades of hardships that has now kept us at the forefront of our industry for 173 years.
In the upper left corner, the flashing Knapheide KSS (a product since discontinued) badge was akin to the Batman logo illuminating the night sky of Gotham City, a call for you to install one of these contoured, functional beauties on your next work truck.
The navigation menu on the left side of the page, while primitive, carried out its duties admirably. Users could find the latest news, search our lineup of products, learn more about commercial vehicle services offered, get additional information about the company and its history, find their nearest Knapheide distributor for vehicle upfitting and accessories, and contact the company via email for questions or additional information.
If you ask me, that spinning email logo really tied the page together, too.
Today, the homepage of Knapheide.com remains a flashy but straightforward, easy-to-navigate resource for customers to find exactly what they need.
You can tell by the bold caps lock font and the bright yellow highlight that this is important stuff. With the text wrapping, the whopping 3 megapixel photography, and the red, italicized sub-headline, there’s no denying that this was a prime example of high-caliber, premium website layout/design two decades ago.
The news page of Knapheide.com in 2001 delivered the latest information from the company regarding new products, changes to existing products, and other important Knapheide updates.
This capture from December 14, 2001 includes a press release regarding the launch of the low-profile (or “lo-pro”) Knapheide Utility Van, now simply referred to as the KUV. Like the website itself, the KUV has evolved significantly since its inception and, to this day, remains one of the most popular bodies offered by the company, providing optimized organization and efficiency for tradespeople across North America.
Our present-day blog page is now the ultimate resource for the latest company news, product launches and updates, and customer stories that showcase how users like you are utilizing our work truck bodies to optimize uptime and efficiency across countless trades and industries.
Stay up to date with everything Knapheide by checking out the blog here.
Our gradient game on these buttons was turn-of-the-century, next-level stuff. I mean, just look at it.
Again, things remained pretty simple here. But, this is where you can really go down a historical rabbit hole. Looking at the specific product pages (more on that shortly) quickly became one of our favorite parts of perusing the archived site.
The main products page in 2001 (as with most of the other pages) stuck with a straightforward and streamlined design for optimum ease of navigation, providing visitors with links to our entire portfolio of products and information on how they can learn more about what upfit is best suited to their particular needs.
Navigating our products page in 2021 is a very similar (albeit much more visually appealing) experience, giving users access to our entire lineup of the industry’s best work truck bodies and accessories.
Today, you can view our heavily expanded offering of products, including information on features, options, and specifications. Additionally, you can access photo galleries of each product, download product literature, request a quote, and search readily available inventory at dealerships across the country.
But, don’t dwell too long in the past. Check out the current Knapheide products page to see which work truck body best suits you.
UTILITY/SERVICE BODY PRODUCT PAGE
As we drilled further down into the 2001 site, we had a grand ol’ time taking a look at the product-specific pages. Just look at that two-tone dreamboat from the days of yore. Hubba hubba!
Now largely known as the “Service Body,” Knapheide’s Utility Body has been and continues to be one of the most widely recognized offerings from the company. The next time you’re driving down the road, look around and see how many Knapheide Service Bodies are on their way to the next jobsite.
The product-specific webpages, again, employed a simplistic aesthetic that offered visitors the need-to-know information as they shopped for their next work truck or van body. The site utilized a single, potato-quality image of the product in a real-world application along with the nuts-and-bolts product specs that buyers would find beneficial when sourcing their new work vehicle.
In 2021, Knapheide.com utilizes a more in-depth approach to product pages while maintaining the practice of easy navigation. As mentioned previously, you’ll now find more detailed information on each product we offer in addition to a multitude of photos, literature pieces, and relevant content pieces such as blogs and videos.
After you take the brief (trust us — it won’t take long!) tour of our 2001 product pages, visit the present-day products page to get all the details on your next work truck body.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SERVICES
Sorry, folks. Page is closed. The moose out front should’ve told ya. Please accept our sincere apologies.
Unfortunately, we were unable to access an archive of this page. But, more than likely, it served as the home to a variety of resources for our dealer and distributor networks.
The good news is that, despite our inability to take a stroll down Memory Lane to our commercial vehicle services page from 2001, the current generation of our website has a plethora of commercial vehicle solutions and more for you to comb through.
On the Knapheide.com homepage, the main menu offers an “I am a…” drop-down that allows you to select from the following options:
- Fleet Management Company
- Commercial Fleet Manager
- Commercial Vehicle Dealer
- Truck Equipment Distributor
- Knapheide Owner
Simply select which title/category best describes you and you’ll be taken to a corresponding page with multiple resources that give you a more personalized user experience.
When this version of the website was live in 2001, Knapheide had recently moved into its new headquarters, a 480,000 square feet, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and office space located on the northern end of the Quincy, Illinois city limits at 1848 Westphalia Strasse, where the company remains today.
After construction was complete and the company relocated its main operations to this facility in 1997, it allowed for greater expansion of the business both from a manufacturing perspective and the operational/support aspects of the company.
This page linked visitors to more information about the teams serving customers, fleet and leasing resources, steps to obtain a quote on a Knapheide body, and further information on the company’s truck pool.
Today’s “About Knapheide” page serves a similar purpose, complete with a comprehensive look at the company’s extensive history and more details on our dedication to “Never Settle,” which features videos highlighting our customers’ success using Knapheide products to take their businesses to the next level.
This is also your destination to learn more about career opportunities across Knapheide’s multiple North American locations.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Also, get a load of that map! Did we Xerox that thing in from a McGraw-Hill geography textbook or what?
To be fair, this might have been considered pretty innovative in 2001. Simply head to the Distributor Lookup page, select your state from the drop-down menu, and be taken to a page that lists all Knapheide distributors in your state. Some of them even give you the opportunity to directly email the distributor, which is indicated by a flashing “E-mail” graphic that looks like a stamped and postmarked envelope. We’ll give you a minute to wrap your head around that one.
All good? Ok. Back to it.
This page was an excellent resource for those who were looking to take the next step in securing a Knapheide body and/or parts and accessories for their current or next work vehicle. Rather than having to scour the entire internet for a local distributor, we compiled a list of our distributors by geographic location and made it easy for customers to find the one closest to them.
Though it may lack the intense pop of color of its predecessor, two decades later, not much has changed. Our current Distributor Lookup page allows you to find a distributor as close as 10 miles away or as far as 500 miles away. By comparing both generations, you can see the substantial growth of our network of distributor partners and Knapheide Truck Equipment Centers over the past 20 years.
In 2001, Knapheide occupied roughly 68% of the entire internet’s bandwidth thanks to the repetitive use of the spinning @ symbol GIF on our email page.
While indeed a flashy page, the email (or is it “E-mail?”) page allowed visitors direct contact links to our marketing department, webmaster, and fleet and leasing. This was a much more convenient option for those seeking to get in touch with us, because we all know that, in 2001, our phones were strictly being used for playing Snake. This was the beginning of the end for the phone call as we knew it.
This page also allowed Knapheide employees to access their email while away from the office network, a feature which still exists but has since been relocated to an internal portal.
These days, the “Contact Us” is a bit more intuitive and provides users with contact information for multiple departments across the Knapheide brand, including points of contact for parts, service, product quotes, and more.
The email addresses on the archived site are no longer active, so we’re going to have to figure out another way to see who’s responsible for that “employee’s” typo from 2001.
Twenty years later, the Knapheide website not only looks significantly better, but it remains an extensive and user-friendly resource for all your Knapheide needs. Whether you’re a Knapheide customer or one of our valued dealer or distributor partners, you’ll find everything you need here, just like always. Thanks for joining us on this nostalgic journey. We hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did!