2018 marks the 20th year that I have been building websites. It hasn’t always been glorious or visually attractive as the pictures of the first three websites I built below will attest. But I like to think that like wine or cheese I’ve improved with age. Website Design and technology have changed over the last 20 years so what else can you do but roll with the changes.
I’m sure I could dissect these three sites and offer a spectacular list of things not to do, or tips to improve your website, but not today. Today is for reminiscing and remembering the past.
My First Site
This was my first attempt at building a website. When I was in Graduate School we had a teacher ask us to submit a class project summary as an html page. This was back in 1997 so it wasn’t that simple, and required many hours using the computer lab computers. Fortunately one of my project partners knew a little html and together we we were able to build a web page to showcase our project.
That limited html experience got me tapped by the CEO of my company to build the company’s first website. Knowing that limited html knowledge was not going to be enough, I did some research and chose a wysiwyg program called NetObjects Fusion. My graphics program was MS Paint that came free with Windows. No skills. No tools. And no clue. Yet, I was pretty proud of this back in the day.
My Second Website
Fast forward about a year and a second website opportunity came up. By this time I was working in the online marketing department of Budget Rent-a-car. I received a call one day from someone who owned the domain rentalcars.com and they wanted to offer a Budget discount on their website.
After reviewing their website I told them we would be happy to get them a discount code but that they needed to improve their website. A couple of weeks later they called back to see if I knew anyone that could build a new site for them. I had accepted an offer from another company and was leaving Budget, so I offered to build their site.
The site eventually grew to over 450 pages… pretty massive for my second foray into building a website.
This time instead of MS Paint I upgraded to Photoshop. Still no skills and no clue. But I was starting to get the tools.
My Third Site
6 months later I picked up my third site, a car dealership. You can see a lot of my second site in the initial design of the third. With photoshop the images were getting better but still a lot to be desired on the rest of it. I crack up looking at the hand drawn map on the contact page. Google maps were still a few years down the road.
About a year later I changed the design to an all black background. Compared to the first version it is an improvement. But this may have been one of the last websites I did with a dark background. How about that stroke, blur effect on the cars on the revised black home page?
These three websites were the start of my 20 year journey in website design. I rode NetObjects Fusion through several new versions until switching to WordPress in 2006 or 2007. It’s still my platform of choice.
These sites are horrible by today’s standards, but not bad for 16-20 years ago. Can’t wait to do another website look back in 2038.