I put my heart and my soul into my work,
and have lost my mind in the process.
[Vincent Van Gogh]
Over fifteen years ago, a client handed me a book (Teach Yourself HTML in 24 Hours) and said, “I would like for you to build a website for my business.”
I was only vaguely aware of what a website was, and had never seen the internet. I bought a piece of software called BB Edit, studied the book from cover to cover testing my code in Netscape (I wasn’t connected to the internet), and developed a detailed organizational chart for my client’s site. He approved the chart and gave me sketches of his vision for the look and feel of the site. As I set to work, I had no clue about how other sites looked. The one I developed was very visual since I am a graphic designer instead of a technically oriented person. We put the finished site files on floppy disks and hand carried them to our web-server provider. He showed the site to me on his computer—my first glimpse of the internet. I was so excited that I was jumping up and down inside.
Since then, I’ve ridden the roller coaster of web development through all of its iterations. After publishing a number of client websites, I still use principles I learned on that first site:
- Plan, plan, plan—work out the details and gather the resources before assembling the first page.
- Keep the perception of the site guest in the forefront. Make it “user-friendly.”
- Keep it simple and compatible with older browsers.
- Document the site structure for future maintenance and expansion.
- Test each phase during the process so, at the end, everything works and nothing needs to be retrofitted.
I am in the process of redesigning my original site. I usually start with a detailed site map (organizational chart) that I draw in Adobe Illustrator, but this time I am assembling it in Microsoft Excel (shown in the image above). This is proving to be so much quicker and easier. It allows me to focus on content instead of construction. I’m looking forward to this project. Meanwhile, I’m studying another refresher course on Lynda.com.