Saturday, 28 July 2012


Hi, in case you weren’t paying attention, I am Blue Gene! I used to design websites for a living and I was there almost right from the start! For me the web exploded in 1997! My goodness… The days when the computer was just a terminal to facilitate tasks such as word processing, etc… WOW!!! Lol! In 1997 it wasn’t too long after I had ditched my Amiga 4000 that I was in the possession of a PC (that I built with the help of a work colleague). I found myself on a course to familiarize myself with the wonders of… The Internet and web page design using HTML (hypertext mark-up language). Ooooh! To be honest I was more interested into surfing the web, which was like taking trip into a newly opened shopping mall… A shopping mall full of dodgy “adult” shops and the occasional Star Trek fan site! The shopping mall came first and the street later – at least from my point of view! The Web was (and in a way still is) permanently “under construction”. Sites back then consisted mainly of text because the bandwidth was so narrow that pictures were a luxury! That quickly changed with the advent of Ulead’s Web Razor – now defunct – that compressed JPEG images down to the smallest byte. I used to swear by Web Razor!

Anyway, I tried my hardest to get to grips with HTML; it’s not complicated but longwinded. You enter some code into Notepad and then take a look at the results in a web browser. Boring! It took me a long while to understand why, for web purists, that hand-coding a website from start to finish was the only way! That said, I was relieved when Adobe PageMill arrived. PageMill was one of the first WYSIWYG web design programs and I took to it quickly! I have to admit that I used to set my computer clock back in order to keep using it! Hee hee hee… At the time I had no regards for text conventions i.e. by marking up text for headers, etc. I wanted my text at a certain size for the title, subheading and paragraph. As far as I was concerned if it looked good to me then I was happy! I was pretty pissed off that I couldn’t just use any font! I had to use fonts that adhered to HTML. I kind of lost interest in web design… …what was the point with so many restrictions and conventions? So, I had to user transparent GIFs for my fonts – not realizing that using images for text decreased Search Engine Optimization. In other words search engines would rank sites that closely adhered to HTML convention higher than that of sites built with little or no regard for pure HTML. Bear with me…

I spent time and money dodging learning how to code in HTML. I packed up my belongings and headed off to Amsterdam for a new life as a Multimedia / Web Designer. I landed a job within two weeks of my arrival and I was employed to prepare images and do the shell of a website which consisted of laying out the positions of the graphics and text. I was using Corel Web Design Suite (or something like that) and I got a shock! After badgering my boss to give me some design work he relented and I produced a “site” using Web Design Suite. When I gave the results to the “coders” they were less than happy with it! In fact, if it wasn’t for my being English I didn’t get fired! In Holland they, at the time, regarded English people as “cool” and I was given another chance! I got myself a new program that I saw being demoed at the famous Highbury and Islington Design Centre Multimedia Showcase. It looked amazing. I took my first wage and invested into Macromedia Dreamweaver and with it I produced better websites and was able to stay in the job for a good while. I quickly learned to avoid code that would favor one browser over the other… Websites were dependent upon the different browsers adopting Java code, DHTML (dynamic HTML) and other elements that I can’t be bothered to remember. Each update of Dreamweaver would produce a purer code that would ensure compatibility with all the web browsers.

To be fair to the WYSIWYG approach to web design Dreamweaver swallowed garish, ugly, eye aching web pages and spat out cleaner sites that looked not to dissimilar to a page in a magazine. Dreamweaver was quickly adopted by the “New Media” industry that included CD ROM design as well as web! Macromedia, before it was bought by Adobe, gave web and multimedia design many gifts in the form of Director (for interactive CD ROM design), Authorware (like Director, but more expensive and used to create training programs) and Flash!

Flash revolutionized the web even further with bringing multimedia to the masses and designers fell over themselves to know Flash inside out! The result was slick sites for corporations that wanted a cutting edge presence on the web.

Yes, pun intended… Lol! What was the year when I decided to stop designing sites for others? Jeez…Yeah, I used to get fed up with “clients” showing me sites that they want to emulate who had no idea about time, taste and cost. In the end I would say to them, “You know what? It would be cheaper to just buy a web design program and do it yourself…” What a relief! Lol!

What has happened over the years is inescapable: Social Networking / Blogging and Video profiles. I think MySpace was first, then Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, WordPress… …it has gone nuts! The order in which these networks appear is not important… Y’know, when I used to design and build websites the one thing that plagued me was CONTENT!!!! Keeping content fresh! Keeping content fresh is no joke! Updating your website is like keeping the Rolling Stones alive! Maintaining a website can or should be a full time job! Trying to get visitors to your site is hard, but once you’ve got them there you want to give them a reason to keep coming back!

What has happened over the years is that many, many people are bypassing the hassle of creating and maintaining a site for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. It makes sense on one hand, the design is there, and all you have to do is update your profile with text, pictures and video. However, the reason for wanting your own website is to have control over your work. You don’t have to worry about Facebook or whatever closing your profiles down for reasons obscure. Or you might want to try your hand at your online business!

In the next issue of Synapse Circuit I am going to show you how to create your own website with ease! I am going to show you a few hosting solutions too! I’ll tell you what you ought to know about HTML5 – don’t worry, you won’t be coding in it! I’m also going to tell you why you ought to be aware of using Flash content on your site.

If you want to make compelling websites that brings all the elements together then…

Stay tuned… Issue #2 coming soon!

Thank you for reading! Please read Synapse Circuit magazine! Bless you!

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