Knowhow-Now Article

The Good Old Days Of Web Design

My family didnít get internet until I was about thirteen, at the start of eighth grade. I believe that was back in 2001 or so. Anyway, that era is what I like to nostalgically think of as the glory days of web design and the general web design community. Back then you had to learn everything yourself via hands on approaches.

My first websites were terrible by today standards. But so were most peopleís. I used free hosting services that coded your content for you ñ all you had to do was select images and the colors you wanted. Wow, that stuff clashed! At first I was so stupid that I didnít know you had to actually upload images. I was directing image fields to point to my computer, meaning I was the only one who could see them! I remember going to a friendís house and trying to show her my website on her computer. My page came up completely black and ominous looking. Oops.

Tip: Choose a good background. Animated GIF backgrounds and complicated patterns on your website can be very distracting to viewers trying to absorb your content.

After a while I became more savvy. I found out I could code my own HTML and took that approach. Back then there were high-traffic websites dedicated to teaching young newbies like me how to code HTML and, later, basic CSS. I remember when my friends and I ìdiscoveredî CSS. Suddenly changing layouts on our websites became a whole lot easier!

Those were the good old days. Iíd come home from school and get to coding. There was always something new to discover: how to make tables, how to use iframes, how to make popup layouts and the use of splash pages. Nowadays everything is so minimalistic and template oriented. I like the new styles too, but there was something rogueish back then. Everything was your own style that you coded yourself. There was a huge sense of pride when you managed to make it happen and it worked for all of your visitors. (For all you current kids out there, back then there were only two main web browsers!)

Tip: Don't overdo it with JavaScript. While Java opens many doors towards an interactive website experience, a lot of Internet surfers are going to have difficulty with it.

Of course I canít forget to talk about the community. Since you did things yourself, you were wont to reach out to others also working through their own things to ask for help and guidance. Everyone was in on it together. Seeing what other people came up with helped you design your own websites. Back then, it was completely normal to change the layout of your fandom site every three to four months. Sometimes I used tables, sometimes I used iframes with image maps, and sometimes I used a popup layout. Every time was an adventure, and there were always friends around to get excited about what the next look would be.

I stopped learning to code around the time I went to college. I still retain most of my old HTML and CSS knowledge, though, which means Iím able to edit a lot of the templates I download for my current, professional websites. Iím forever glad I learned all that when I was young. I donít have much time these days to dink around, but itís very satisfying to get my layouts just the way I want them.

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