The Information super highway's off ramp...

I became aware of the Internet in 1994. Like most people at that time, I first logged in through AOL. It didn't take my family long to realize that the internet was a huge world and AOL was just a tiny fraction of it and they tyrannically decided what you had access to. So, we quickly logged out and found an independent ISP.

We learned HTML and started playing with Web design. Websites were very simply coded then and anyone could get into the Web design game. It was a lot of fun. My 13 year old daughter published a weekly online Zine, where she and her friends posted poetry and stories. She coded her own site.

Then a new faster modem would come out that would allow you to do more with your site. Daily, more people flocked to the experiment that was the Internet. It was what you wanted it to be.People started adding a :links to favorites" page and you could spend all night going from someone's favorites to someone else's, thus "surfing" the net had begun. 

I was a graphic/exhibit designer who got in at the early stages of the Internet. At first there wasn't much that you could do, a one color background and a couple of very small photos, but that was enough to keep us hooked. Then, we started being able to have backgrounds. People went berserk with backgrounds, so outrageous that you could not read the page content. Then it was the animated GIF. A great little innovation that allowed you to make a little animation for your site. Some people did wonderful little animations that added charm to their sites... But, it didn't take long before advertisers started using animated GIF banners to get your attention. Does anyone remember the Whack the Mole banners? If you don't your sanity was spared. Then, one banner was just not enough. The whole entire page would have banners all over it. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate the content from the ads. What a mess. 

Soon we had frames. These allowed you to have a navigation bar that didn't scroll with the rest of the site. It was usually on the left side and different scrolling pages loaded on the right side. This was quite an innovation. You could have one file for the navigation bar and many that loaded to the right making your navigation through the site a cleaner experience.

The next big thing was rollovers. The "on mouseover" code allowed you to have several instances of an image so that when you moused over an image the server would display a rollover, when you clicked on the image it displayed a third version and when you had visited the link you saw a 4rth. It really changed everything. It defined what was and wasn't a link and added a little animation in the mix.Design was getting better, but things were getting much more complicated. Rollovers used Javascript. To just do a series of rollovers it would take a few hours of coding and testing. It was crazy. We were using something called BBedit. It is still around. It was a heaven sent since it allowed you to look for errors and copy and paste code. But it was still not optimal for visual designers. At the end of the day, it was all code. We are visual beings. We need to "see" it.

My life literally changed with the introduction of GoLive. It was first called GoLive Cyber Studio until Adobe purchased it and shortened the name to GoLive. GoLive allowed graphic designers like me to do rollovers without writing one line of code. Sweet! I could do things in a couple of hours that took me days to achieve before. I was sold. It had a lot of glitches, but then, which Web app doesn't. Dreamweaver, which has been the industry standard since the early 2000's is very temperamental as well, and Adobe forced me to change to it by retiring Golive. I would have loved it if they had just fixed GoLive instead since it was meant for designers and not programmers.

At this time Flash was also making an entrance into Web design. First, as a replacement for Macromedia Director CD-Roms and small animations for the Web, and later in the totally crazy all Flash sites that were more about the artistic expression of the designer and less about the user experience. Although they were really not about the user, this led to some of the most beautiful and entertaining sites ever made for the Internet. Which then led to Usability. By the early 2000s I started to read about usability and handicap access. The Internet was, like the telephone before it, transitioning from something of a notoriety to a necessity. The moment that government, doctors, and most important industries started uploading their information online and expecting you to go find it, there was a need for everyone to have clean, organized, fast loading sites and consumers needed to have access to them.

For a short while, the Internet had well designed sites that not only met the needs of the users, but were also very pleasing to the eye. It was the height of the Web Design. Usability was big in my sites. Handicapped access, if you want to call it. that.

Then, something happened. Google forced everyone to standards. They dictated what the sites were supposed to be like and forced everyone to have a mobile version if they wanted ranking. People started worrying only about the functionality of the site and not so much the design. And with the introduction of bootstrap, everything looks the same now. Bootstrap is a series of predefined html5 codes that standardizes the look of the Internet. You call on these codes to style a section of your site. That means, that it will look the same in every Website.

The last bullet in the coffin of Web Design is commercial templates. There are just a certain amount of template sellers. So, in my opinion, this has homogenized the Web. It has made all the sites look the same. Everywhere you go on the Web you have the navigation, header, jumbotron, etc. You might do this to it or that, but it is all the same. I find it excruciatingly boring. So, my job is to take all this and make the best of it by adding color and other techniques so that my custom-made templates stand out from the cookie-cutter Web.

The mobile phone and tablet have brought the largest radical change to the Internet since it's birth. The fact that a site is now made for a phone first and that people are no longer concerned with beautiful design, but accessing data without caring about the actual design, and that Google demanded that sites were mobile friendly in order to have better ranking has had the largest impact to Web design to date. This is leading to more phone apps and less websites. I imagine that Websites will soon be a thing of the past. Only apps and email will continue using the platform.

Overall, it has been a good run. But, for people like me who were sucked in because of the fun and the design, it is somewhat of a disappointment to have to give up on the design. Apps are Cool but it is like Album covers vs iTunes. The art was lost. Most younger people have never experienced the amazing art in an album cover. A lost art. This too will be the future of Website design.

 List of Websites I designed and/or developed from 1994 to present:

Adele Azar, Sanford, FL
Advoserv, Mount Dora, FL
Aloha Surfing School, Punta Cana, DR
Altogether Home, Winter Park, FL
Anita, Mount Dora, FL
Anne Roberts Gardens, Chicago, IL
Appleseed Marketing, Leesburg, FL
Avaryl Buzbee, Winter Park, FL
Betsy Arvelo, Mount Dora, FL
Blair Homes, Central Florida
Brenda Heim, Umatilla, FL
Brushstroke, Mount Dora, FL
Burk Properties, Orlando, FL
C Jordan Harris, Mount dora, FL
Cambridge Homes USA, Longwood, FL
Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine, Winter Park, FL
Casa Clarita, Casa de Campo, DR
Casa de Campo Golf & Villas, Casa de Campo, DR
Casa de Campo Golf & Villas Favorites, Casa de Campo, DR
Casa de Campo Golf & Villas Properties, Casa de Campo, DR
Casa Palma, Casa de Campo, DR
Center of Life,
St. Augustine, FL
Clarion Plaza Hotel, Orlando, FL
Comfort Inn, Orlando, FL
Commons Medical, Winter Park, FL
Digital Marketing Group, Winter Park, FL
Doral Park Avenue, New York, NY
Doug Hays, Paisley, FL
Edge Ingredients, Mount Dora, FL
Face2Face Fl, Leesburg, FL
First Green Bank, Mount Dora, FL
First Marketing Group, Longwood, FL
Florida Travel & Life, Winter Park, FL
Four Points LAX, Longwood, FL
Garden Design Magazine, Winter Park, FL
Goodwin Hotel, Longwood, FL
Greener USA, Clermont, FL
Historia de Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, DR
Hotel St. Moritz, New York, NY
Hugh Gibson, Leesburg, FL
Husebo Marketing, Leesburg, FL
International Golf Club, Orlando, FL
IV One, Orlando, FL
Jackie Arvelo Properties, Casa de Campo, DR
Jackmar, Punta Cana, DR
Jane Austen Fest, Mount Dora, FL
Kareen Rachelle, Eustis, FL
Kevco Builders, Leesburg, FL
Kevco Concrete, Leesburg, FL
Ladies Tea Adventures, Mount Dora, FL
Lake Cares Food Bank, Mount Dora, FL
Lake ENT, Leesburg, FL
Lake ENT Sinus, Leesburg, FL
Lake Receptions, Mount Dora, FL
Lake Sumter TV, Leesburg, FL
Lake Women for Women OB/GYN, Leesburg, FL
Lakeside Inn, Mount Dora, FL
Land in Lake Seneca, Mount Dora, FL
Le Zie Restaurant, New York, NY
Lighthouse Realty, St. Augustine, FL
Maggie Mae Magazine, Mount Dora, FL
Maharishiveda, Spain
Medical Interventions, Clermont, FL
Mix 195 FM, Winter Park, FL
Morse Museum, Winter Park, FL
Moses Law Firm, Orlando, FL
Mount Dora Heroes Foundation, Mount Dora, FL
Mount Dora Center for the Arts, Mount Dora, FL
Naile Computers, Clermont, FL
Nassau Hotel Association, Nassau, Bahamas
North Gate Animal Clinic, Leesburg, FL
Oakrun Retirement, Ocala, FL
Ocean Villas, Puerto Rico
Omni Rosen Hotel, Orlando, FL
Orlando Home & Leisure Magazine, Maitland, FL
Orlando Restaurants, Orlando, FL
O'Ryan Creative Marketing, Mount Dora, FL
Oviedo Montessori, Oviedo, FL
Paula’s Chocolates, Orlando, FL
Pearl Teas and Gifts, Eustis, FL
Phytobiodermie, Eustis, FL
Point Grace, Turks & Caicos
Power Grid Engineering, Winter Spring, FL
Properties in Casa, Casa de Campo, DR
Pura Vida Surf Yoga, Costa Rica
Rachel’s World Class Men’s Club, Orlando, FL
Radisson Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
Radisson Miami, Miami, FL
Radisson Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Radisson Orlando, Orlando, FL
Rona Gindin, Orlando, FL
Saveur Magazine, New York, NY
Sheraton Chicago, Chicago, IL
Shoorthing Entertainment, New York, NY
Small Town USA, Mount Dora, FL
St. Josephs Assisted Living, Ft. Lauderdale Lakes, FL
Swede Home Antiques, Miami, FL
Teachers Educational Tours, Orlando, FL
The Groves at Baytree, Tavares, FL
Toppino Eyecare, Clermont, FL
US Equity Advantage, Orlando, FL
Venice Art Center, Venice, FL
Venice Farmers Market, Venice, FL
Villa La Bonita, Casa de Campo, DR
Wee Ones, New York, NY
Windhorse, Eustis, FL
World Publications, Winter Park, FL
World Publications Intranet, Winter Park, FL

 

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