Twelve Years of Web Design

I first edited a webpage in December of 2001. Upon landing a job just out of college with a PBS station in Erie, Pennsylvania, I was told on my first day, “Oh yeah, aside from graphic design and animation, we’ll need you to update the website, too.”

Not much else was provided. Text, some images, and a copy of Microsoft’s Frontpage. It was all quite primitive. I learned by trial and error, found some other people online willing to answer the tougher questions, and soon I was on my way to finally understanding how floats and positioning in CSS work. I was one of those guys at the forefront of using web standards vs. old table layouts and browser-specific tags. It meant more work at first, but helped position me as one of the people doing things right in the industry. Clients took notice, and the rest is history I suppose.

I just wanted to take note of what all has happened with the web but, well, that would be a helluva list, we’ll just cover some of it.

When I started building websites:

  1. Facebook hadn’t even been invented. Hell, Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t even begun college. MySpace wasn’t even online yet.
  2. Social Networking meant meeting friends at a bar, and forums were the primary means of communicating on the web (not counting email of course).
  3. Smartphones didn’t exist. Flip phones were all the rage and we hadn’t even made it to the Motorola Razr yet.
  4. SPAM was still crushing our inboxes. Gmail hadn’t been invented, and checking your email meant going home or firing up your computer at work.
  5. Blogging was relatively new, and typically meant you had to know how to edit HTML, upload files to a web server, and manage everything on your own.
  6. Google was a baby. This is what their homepage looked like way back then in 2001. a screenshot of an antiquated search engine webpage, aka Google in 2001
  7. DSL was all the rage. Oh, and America Online was still mailing you CDs.
  8. Barack Obama was still a State Senator in Illinois, not even having made it to the US Congress yet.
  9. The original WordPress would be over two years away, and founder Matt Mullenweg wouldn’t have even tried out the software which inspired it.
  10. 17% of the current population of the world wasn’t even alive yet. Yes, at 34, I’m an old timer I suppose.

One of my children was still in diapers, and two more would be years away from even nestling in the womb. Other personal achievements of mine would be living in a foreign country, bicycling from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually learning to live as a full-time traveler.

It’s amazing how, when you’re young, the future seems wide open and possibilities unlimited. But even more amazing is looking back on some chunk of your life and seeing just what you’ve done with those opportunities.

Thanks to everyone who’s helped make all of this a possibility, from my lovely girlfriend to Google and everyone in between.

Up Next: Web Design is Like a Great Hike