I first started using this site as a blog in 2001. It wasn’t anything special. I did everything by hand. There was no RSS feed. At one point I developed a ColdFusion-based application that let me post “news articles” to the site, but never really did anything with it.
Before 2001, the site served as an online portfolio only. I used it to post previews of work I had done, and used it to land a couple of jobs. But cdharrison.com was not my first website. My first site was actually on Geocities. I stress “was” because the site was hacked after I ticked some people off in the chatrooms… but anyways… I don’t really need to go into all of that. (One of these days, I will get around to at least snapping some screenshots of some of the older designs…)
Ten years ago I knew nothing about the web other than how to use it. I learned to use the internet to assist in research for Model United Nations conferences, pouring through Gopher sites, browsing the few resources that were available to us at the time… Nowadays, you simply hop on Wikipedia and BAM! you’ve found what you’re looking for. Those of us that had net access, had a distinct advantage over those that didn’t have it.
When I graduated and went onto Old Dominion University, I continued to use the Internet more and more… but it was using Chat Rooms that made me want to learn HTML. Seriously. I wanted to learn how to change the way my messages looked. I wanted to change the way my nick appeared. I learned how to do this and countless other “tricks” by viewing the source code of chatrooms. When I figured out how to do what I wanted to do, it created this thirst in me to continually learn more about HTML. That’s when I started building my own website. The original site has long since been lost. As I mentioned before it was on Geocities… it sucked… I used an illegal copy of Paint Shop Pro to make the graphics. (Sorry boot that, JASC. I was a stupid kid who didn’t know any better.)
It wasn’t long after that, that I started working on a site for the Mace & Crown, Old Dominion’s student newspaper. We never got very far with it… but, my desire to learn how to make type look pretty on the web, quickly turned into a desire to create websites.
After failing out of college, I moved down to Augusta, where I have been ever since. My first real design job was for a little non-profit in Edgefield, South Carolina: Quail Unlimited. I started out working on their magazine but transitioned into the role of webmaster. (I finally was doing real stuff, for a real organization on the web!) It was through QU, that I met Brian Tesene, a ColdFusion developer in Manhattan, Kansas, and he showed me that you could do a lot more with the web than have pretty pictures… You could have real functionality. Also at QU, I met and quickly became friends with Erik Wahman… who at the time was more seasoned on the web than I was… (He and I are still friends to this day.)
Erik went on to work for Double-Dot.com, an up-and-coming web development company in Augusta. I ended up leaving QU to join Double-Dot.com when Erik moved on to become the Webmaster at MAU. I spent three years at Double-Dot.com. That’s when I legitimately could start calling myself a web designer… I designed hundreds of sites while I was there and everything I learned helped bring my to my next job at the Alison Group. I was originally hired to be a “Web Architect” at Alison, but transitioned into a hybrid art director/web designer… Things didn’t work out there, but it led me to where I am today. I actually started getting burned out on the whole web thing, and it took a huge shake-up in my life to rekindle my passion for building stuff on the web.
I mention all of this boring stuff because I think it’s extremely important to look at where you’ve been in order to see where you’re at and where you’re going… I lose sight of that from time to time, and need to be brought back down to planet Earth before my head gets too big. I’m incredibly fortunate to work with all of the misfits at PowerServe. I thank God for bringing me down this road… and leading me to where I belong. I love working on the web now… and it’s funny to think it was all sparked by a desire to make text look prettier. Heck, I’m still doing that today if you think about it…