1987 - 1998
Although I now refer to myself as a web designer, all my career I've more accurately been a designer for screen and mostly (but not always) worked with RGB colours. My first job was creating 35mm corporate presentation slides and OHPs for companies such as Harveys of Bristol, BT Severnside, British Aerospace, Imperial Tobacco and Wessex Water to name just a few. At that time Microsoft Windows was on version 2 and Photoshop hadn't even been conceived. I used an AVL Starburst system which output 4K resolution images to a Matrox QCR Z and later the Agfa Matrix Forte 35mm film recorder. At this time finding a job that combined my love of computers with my passion for design was an opportunity not to be missed so I completed my A Level studies at college and took the job in computer graphics.
After Starburst came Lotus Freelance which was capable of creating complex charts as well as the text slides. Microsoft PowerPoint and Lotus Freelance made it possible for anyone to create their own presentations and 35mm slides became a thing of the past.
As the slide industry died, the CD Rom was being born. It was a chance for greater design flexibility and for the first time some animation. I worked on several CD Roms at this time using the earliest version of Photoshop available on the Windows platform (v2.5). The lessons learnt with slide presentations regarding accuracy prepared me well for Photoshop as at this time text wasn't editable and there were no layers so a mistake often meant starting again.
For a few years CD Roms were everywhere but for me, my attention was diverted by the emergence of the World Wide Web. Curiosity got the better of me and I bought a book on HTML which I studied during evenings after work. Once comfortable with HTML I took the leap to become freelance. It was 1998.
1998 - present
The plan was to spend the first month as a freelancer researching the software and skills most commonly requested, acquire the software and learn it thoroughly. Within 2 weeks I had my first paying client so the learning part was actually spent on a real brief. My chosen software was the Macromedia Suite of programs (Dreamweaver, Flash, Freehand and Fireworks).
I found additional work around Bristol creating banner adverts, websites and Flash movies as well as more CD Rom work. Contacts gained during my time in employment helped a lot and I was lucky enough to spend time working at BAE Systems creating interactive content relating to the T45 Destroyer and Future Carrier contract bids. This required security clearance and a strict level of confidentiality. I also worked on interactive exhibits and websites for the Bristol millennium projects @Bristol and Wildscreen.
As time moved on it was becoming more and more obvious that clients were demanding their websites to do more. Dynamic database driven sites were becoming more popular so I enrolled in a 2 day training course in Bristol to quickly acquire the necessary skills to create dynamic content and learn some of the basics of database creation and SQL.
Many people involved in web design will remember the rivalry between Netscape and Microsoft which presented web design professionals with quite a few challenges to say the least. My approach was to try to avoid problematic code and hacks completely in order to future proof my code whilst adhering to W3C code standards. This approach has seen a huge time saving in fixing bugs and usually means that my sites validate with the W3C Validation Checker first time with at most minor warnings.
More recently the challenge has been that of responsive design. Rather than learn a responsive framework like Bootstrap straight away, I wanted a thorough understanding of how to build responsive sites from the ground up. Clean and lean code appeals to me here. Faster loading times and none of the fat. Now I'm comfortable with responsive design the frameworks come next.
Throughout my working life I've held a passion for problem solving and learning new things. It's turned me into a bit of a workaholic but at least I still love what I do and how many can say that!