20 YEARS!

It’s 20 years to the day since I started my web career (and indeed my first full-time job). 16th November 1999. 

Last millennia. 

Woh. 

I started as a ‘Web Development Assistant’ (and something about Sales) at Macmillan Publishers in London. 

Here’s the first website I’ve worked on.

I had no idea what I was doing, but rather fortunately it was still relatively early days for the web, so easier to get a job in it through enthusiasm and willingness to learn. 

We had Internet Explorer 4. Netscape Navigator 4.7. No mobile. Google wasn’t something people had really heard of yet. Wayyy pre-social networks. Many people still thought it (the web) was a fad. 

See what it was like, it was wild. http://oldweb.today/

This was a typical day for me back in 1999 (on a giant beige Dell desktop with CRT monitor)

  • Processing online orders  – our e-commerce platform went like this – a form sent an email to me, I would phone the person up, take the credit card number enter the details into a Word form, print it out then through internal post send it to Basingstoke to be processed by another person using a system built in the 1970s.
  • Tech support for some of our online products (online encyclopaedias, lol). Including a memorable time when I spent the best part of an hour a day training an 80 year old on the fundamentals of computing and the internet (he expected the online encyclopaedia to appear when he turned on the computer)
  • Updating the website, via FrontPage 98. Editing files LIVE on the server. 
  • Creating GIFs for new products / menu items in full 216 dithered GIF Technicolor. And 640 pixel wide monitors
  • Learning HTML/CSS from my boss, who was awesome and very patient. 
  • The day I started work as a Web Development Assistant is also the day I sent my first ever email.

Things have changed somewhat, although some of it hasn’t, I still try and keep learning, I still update the live server 😉

I didn’t even know what my profession really was until I started looking for a new job after 8.5 years in Publishing. Turned out front-end developer was closest to what I enjoyed.

Since then I’ve worked on many many many websites, I left publishing and worked in an exciting and forward thinking agency for 4.5 years, with some of the smartest, most creative people in the industry, and learned a ton. 

I’ve travelled round the world helping people understand their needs and translating them into working sites. 

I then created my own company, Dogwonder Ltd. in 2012 and have spent the time since then working directly with awesome companies, people and collaborators. 

I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with people though building websites. Clients big and small, colleagues of all kinds, family, friends, communities and my wife. The internet connects us all. 

I am still building websites. I really didn’t think from that point 20 years ago that I would or even could still be building websites. And I still love it. It’s a constant journey of learning and understanding and  I feel very privileged to be able to be able to do it. 

Job title now – no idea. I build websites. 

We went from static websites (remember Movable Type) to database driven (WordPress) / restful API (Ruby on Rails) back through to static sites again. We went from static designs to responsive websites, with the advent of mobile. 

Lots has changed but also lots hasn’t. Building websites that work for the user, allowing them to get done what they need to get done, whilst making sure that the widest number of people, devices and browsers can access them have been core all the way through 20 years. As I was starting web standards was becoming a thing, it still seems very very relevant today, sure things can be improved, but we should never forget the fundamentals, build good stuff that works well for as many people as possible.

I think now one of my biggest concerns is someone starting their journey today. I see an industry where some of the players have put up barriers, making the learning curve and steps massive before you can even render ‘hello world’ in a browser. It isn’t as accessible as it should be and that makes me sad. It’s an amazing job, and we shouldn’t be making it harder to start.

But I digress. It’s been a great 20 years, and feel very privileged to have been able to work in this industry.

15 years!

Today marks the anniversary of the day I launched this site. 15 years ago! That’s like a century in internet time, maybe an epoch or two.

2004 preceded YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and well, pretty much everything that we understand of the web today. I didn’t post here for many years indeed preferring those platforms and the communities that went with them.

But I am glad I kept this space, with the social networks’ nut-jobs, trolls, privacy issues and overall forced curation, I am increasingly happy I still have my own space to express my thoughts.

Even if no-one reads any of it, I have 15 years of my stuff safely stashed away and no internet giant can decide to ‘retire that functionality’.

This is my house.

A year of Dogwonder Ltd.

So I’ve been running Dogwonder Ltd. since 10th September 2012, just over a year. It’s been quite a ride, I’ve learnt an incredible amount about myself and had to deal with many challenges, not least project managing myself. I’ve not shared much during my first year as really just wanted to get on with it, but felt it was time to show some of the sites I have been working on in the last year. I’ve not put everything here, as mostly wanted to share the sites I have built responsively. All of the sites below are built on WordPress.

one

highq

businessshappers

resolve

mcm

aboutgolf

access

aer

cc

kusiri

lacucina

october

verbier

Dogwonder IX

So this blog turns nine years old today.

Still posting rather infrequently, but it’s still mine, and now the official company website.

As per tradition(ish) I will re-post my first ever post, which still holds up imho as a way of viewing the web, by the much missed Jean Baudrillard

“Virtuality, being itself virtual, does not really happen. One lives in the very Rousseauistic idea that there is in nature a good use for things that can and must be tried. I don’t think that it is possible to find a politics of virtuality, a code of ethics of virtuality because virtuality virtualizes politics as well: there will be no politics of virtuality, because politics has become virtual; there will be no code of ethics of virtuality, because the code of ethics has become virtual, that is, there are no more references to a value system.”

 

¡Viva la Revolución!

How To Build a Modern Website in 2011

Simply brilliant article on some of the emerging concepts, techniques and philosophies that have hit us through-out 2011 in the world of web design/development. It’s been a truely epic, transformative year, it’s really exciting to see the development of responsive design, mobile first, web typography, HTML5, CSS3, solid web design principles that are enabling us to build the next generation of websites. It feels like industry has reached maturity and now we are ready to fly.

Prepping for 2012

So think this is the third new design for this site in 2011. Which is 3 times the numer of posts for 2011 so far…truth is twitter, facebook and increasingly instagram and foursquare keep me entertained yet allow me to communicate effectively with my networks.

However a constant itch I feel the need to scratch is the wider narritive. Twitter, facebook et. al. are great, but they tend to be short format, quick thoughts or feelings, a snapshot if you will. I always liked this space for a bit more indepth thinking and musing on subjects du jour.

So I’ve said it loads of times but yet again, as I appraoch 8 years of running this thing it’s time to try again. I think I have a fair amount to say and would like to give it another crack. Blogs may be somewhat 2002 now but hey, I always enjoyed blogging so even if I am madly writing away to myself I would like to give it another crack. Maybe not so much pressure to blog frequently, but about once / twice a month seems fair.

As part of preparing this post I thought I would dive into some old themes and get some snapshots of this blog through the ages….going from 2004 by year. Seemed like a nice way to review what I have done over the last 8 years and was pretty fun activating the old themes and seeing what broke. Surprisingly apart from some legacy plugin code most of them worked even the theme built for WordPress 1.2! Now I am on the shiney 3.3. WordPress has come such a long way, such a great platform to develop and write on. Although the less said about some of the markup I chose to use the better .

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