A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth
the first time he bites off more than he can chew.
I’ve lost count of the number of websites I’ve designed and produced in the past decade. I’d only done illustration work and print publications before I started. I’d never seen the internet when a client handed me a book about HTML and said, “I need for you to produce a website for me.” I used a text editor, a web browser (still not connected to the internet) and Painter to produce his site. I drove out to the office of his service provider to deliver the finished files, and was amazed and pleased when I finally saw his site online. In the years since, I’ve used Adobe GoLive, Dreamweaver, BB Edit, and Photoshop in my web design work, but I’ve always been thankful that I started by learning the basics of HTML.
I’ve also helped other people learn the basics. I share my website (photo–right) with Jolene Treace — she learned website design and production as I helped her produce this site. This site is now ancient in internet terms, but still serves us well. It’s structure is simple, basic and stable.
A year ago, a client asked me to set up a blog for one of her clients. To teach myself the basics, I started two blogs of my own. I set up my first one on WordPress using one of their templates. Although I’ve toyed with the idea of customizing that blog to look similar to my website, I continue to use the template because I like the left-column navigation and the neutral color scheme. Although most of my site visitors are hand knitters, I also post samples of my writing, client projects and illustrations on that blog which had logged in over 24,000 visits in the past year.
I set up my second blog on Blogspot (blogger). Here again, I used an out-of-the-box template but with a slight modification. I inserted my logo and a cutline in the header. I’ve tried out Google AdSense on this blog, but do not get enough traffic for it to pay off.
Using these blogs taught me enough to start customizing similar sites for my clients. After I volunteered to mentor students who are setting up blogs, I set up this blog, Graphic Design Notes, so I’d have a place to post design-related information. I started with the “Cutline” theme (screen shot at right), purchased the CSS plugin access from WordPress, and modified the colors, typeface and header image.