My first website was not Geocities. It was something like www.rutgers.edu/eden/telerib, part of my computer account as an undergrad, probably tossed up circa 1995. It was, predictably, a list of links and a I think a resume, eventually. I don't recall if I ever figured out how to turn the background from grey to white.
But before I left Rutgers, I did have a Geocities site. I think it went up in 1999, not 1996. It looked a lot like this, except that there was a left-margin graphic of ivy leaves. There was less on it, but it was the same white page with black Arial text.
If you explore "Teleri's Songs for the Ladies" (some of the earliest content) you can still see some of the wonky spacing that was the result of Geocities drag-n-drop text blocks.
That site was well-maintained up through 2008. I wasn't running a game (a lot of my content is gaming-related) and my SCA stuff had migrated to Mi Contra Fa. I averaged around 10 hits a day.
Maybe it has to do less with when the website was put up and how old the webpage designer was. Had I been 14 in 1999, there might have been blinky text and rainbow unicorn backgrounds. Instead, I could legally buy beer, and rainbow colors were no longer quite so compelling.