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Old school

A few days ago Dave asked us to flood him with our precious eyesores… our ‘first steps’, as it were, into the world of web design. While most of my really old stuff, circa 1998, is long gone (I wasn’t one for archiving things when I changed the design), I had a quick dig through my hard drive and came up with some gems. I have, for posterity of course, placed them online for my embarrassment.

the Miranda Kerr portfolio

This was my first website… ever. Not this particular design of this particular website, but the claim holds true.

Back in 1997, a beautiful young girl by the name of Miranda Kerr won the annual Dolly Magazine model competition. This in itself is nothing particularly remarkable; girls win that competition every year, score themselves a couple of magazine covers and a nice modeling contract, then fade into relative obscurity. What was remarkable was Miranda’s age: she was 13 when she won. There was a big media hubbub about child porn and girls growing up too fast, and I (aged 13) suddenly had a big crush on arguably the most beautiful 13–year–old in the country.

Women are always that little bit hotter when they’re the same age as you, aren’t they?

Not so long after watching this media circus unfold on TV, I decided to search the web for any pages dedicated to Ms Kerr. Since I didn’t have internet access, I rode over to my best friend’s place (who had recently scored internet access because his Mother worked at a library) and looked her up. Nothing. No–thing. Nada. I was devastated… the only things even on the internet in those days were fan pages and porn, right? So I vowed to build a web page worthy of Miranda Kerr… just as soon as I got the internet.

That Christmas, one of the ‘presents the whole family can enjoy’ was… you guessed it… internet access. I was stoked. It was all web surfing and IRC from that day forward… until I discovered free web hosting. With a hosting account in one hand and a pirate copy of Namo Webeditor in the other, I started ‘coding’ my first web page: the Miranda Kerr portfolio. This was early 1998.

Some time later, after ditching Namo for Dreamweaver (version 2!), I redesigned the web page to something approximating what you see now… in all its javascript popup and flash–navigation glory. The coding is terrible, the accessibility is worse, the usability is nightmarish and, well… it pretty much sucks.

She’s still a beautiful girl, no doubt about that, but damned if I’m not embarrassed by this show of devotion to a total stranger.

BORN THAT WAY Online

‘born that way’ (which must be either all caps or all lowercase, never properly capitalized) was my punk rock band when I was in high school. Man, we sucked. Our website sucked even more, but we were one of the only bands in Perth with a presence on the internet. Quite unfortunately, when you’re a punk rock band, people start using words like “sellout” and “fags” when you do something so un–punk as have a web page, so we took it as an opportunity to act like conceited assholes. As you might have guessed, we weren’t very popular in the ultra–cliquey Perth scene.

The original version of the site was green text on a black background, with the name of the band in massive, bevelled, neon–glowed text across the top. The typeface was ‘Big Truck’, as I recall. Sooner or later, it became apparent that I must redesign. The ‘99 version of the page was more of the javascript goodness I came to love when I was building the Miranda Kerr portfolio, so the entire site was built to fit a 640 × 480 popup window. The 2000 redesign, which is the one you’ll see there at the above link, was quite similar to the ‘99 design; same aesthetic, same stick–figure drawings at the bottom of every page, same background, still 640 × 480… but now that scrolling was no longer considered hazardous, I’d stopped using the popup windows.

Drop–down navigation was very popular though, as you might be able to tell… if you’re using Internet Explorer. If you aren’t using Internet Explorer that’s too bad! Whatever crazy javascript I’d stolen for the job doesn’t work in anything else, even today. Fun fun fun.

Make Some Noise!

My old pal Scotty, in his benevolence, directed an Anglican church my way when they asked him who to call to create a “postcard site” for them; a site whose sole function was to provide information about an upcoming event of theirs. Apparently, they were throwing some free percussion classes, which clearly needed marketing.

The brains behind the operation decided to distribute flyers with nothing but a picture of a drum on them, along with the phrase “make some noise!” and the URL of the website. The information that actually mattered, like what in the hell this flyer was advertising, would be found on the site. Brilliant scheme. In any event, it wasn’t a great deal of effort to help out a charity case (y’know… using Dreamweaver ‘n all) and I scored a six pack for my troubles. Awesome.

My past obsession with form mail is quite intriguing; I guess I just didn't want anybody to know my email address, despite the fact that they (and every spambot with half a brain) could find it in the source if they really wanted. Form mail sucks, of course; being too much of a barrier to entry for some people, and enabling far too many people to mail you anonymously. Likewise, the popup windows and the drop–down menus… terrible. We all learned the hard way, didn’t we?

There were other sites; some better, some worse than those above. Some that I worked in conjunction with other people, some that were products of school assignments; but in having ditched the archives, or having formatted computers without backups, or having just not cared, they are lost to the world. Sooner or later I’m going to have to make all my old decaf designs active again. All eighty–eight billion of them.