From Pagemaker to WordPress, 25 years in digital design

I started work in Graphic Design when I was 17 years old, over 20 years ago now. That was on old Amstrad PCs running Aldus Pagemaker on Windows 3.1 attached to a black and white scanner that cost the best part of £1000! I then moved on to a Mac, a Quadra 950 which with all the bits that went with is cost an eye-watering £10,000 (you can check out the specs here). One of the main reasons these were picked was not the industry leading power, PostScript support, Zip drives (remember them?) or anything like that. No it was the promise of easy networking two Quadras to play Bolo, a ridiculously addictive tank game that wasted hours of time. Those were the days.

Bolo – hours of pixel heavy fun on £20,000 of computer equipment when we should have been working

I left full time Graphic Design work in 1993 and began a career in the public sector but retained a list of clients and still undertook private commissions, although a Quadra 950 was just a little out of reach so I reverted back to PCs and CorelDraw, in fact I still have the install and program CDs for that somewhere, all 4 of them.

Shortly after buying my first “proper” PC I plugged the telephone lead into the back, signed up with Global Internet, and started to rack up some impressive phone bills. The Internet was in it’s infancy then but I can remember being amazed at being able to access sites in the US through the phone line. Eventually another phone line was put it just for the web and I started to use my design skills to produce some truly horrible web sites using frames, tables, limited fonts and worse of all, animated gifs.

At about the same time I injured myself and was off work for a while. I spent the time off tinkering with the hardware and software on the PC and really learning how it worked and, remember this was Windows 95, how to fix the numerous conflicts, operating system problems and hardware incompatibility.

As my knowledge of the PC grew I started to revisit the programming skills that I had learnt in college, and in order to spend my days off in the week more productively that sitting in the pub all day, I signed up for a software development course with the Open University. The course taught a pure object orientated language called Smalltalk, and I had great fun learning how to develop pure OO software. I carried on after this course and despite breaks for marriage, children, work, and other studying I kept going back for more, completing various courses and qualifications in software design along the way.

During all this I was still messing about with web sites and other Internet design technologies, although I could never get on with Flash even though at one point it seemed every website was built with it. It was when people started offering to pay me to create them websites that I decided that if I was going to take money from people then I really should learn how to do it properly and I completed a Certificate in Web Applications with the Open University. This taught me PHP, ASP, HTML, CSS, mySQL, Apache and a lot more about the development process, open source software, user interfaces and web security. Brilliant course now sadly no longer available. And so I was ready.

So I have over 20 years experience in both print and web design (I still do print design, reports of the death of actual physical documents have been exaggerated) and I have qualifications in software development and web applications development that I have put to good use over the past few years. So if you like what you see, get in touch and see what I can do for you!


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