Ben is a lifelong Nintendo fan who likes to build websites, and make video games. He buys way too much Lego.
My first website was terrible. Not intentionally I hasten to add – but because I was told to make it bad…
I started university in 1998, the internet was just starting to become more mainstream. It was still a few years before the first dot-com bubble burst – and AOL were still sending everyone copious amounts of drinks mats (trial cds). I was studying digital art – I wanted to be a video games artist – but web design was involved in the course.
My first web design teacher was a Java programming computer science person. He taught multimedia computing but his lessons involved Java, Object Oriented Programming, computer hardware, HCI, and all sorts of stuff that you wouldn’t really think of as multimedia. He wasn’t a creative.
He started by teaching us the basics of HTML – nothing wrong with that and I found it all quite easy. However what he was teaching was already going out of date in 1998. In among the required elements like paragraphs, images, headings and tables – we had frames, and playing a midi file in the browser (remember those? This was before Youtube and HTML5 media formats :)).
To pass the course at my University was easy. You looked at the project brief – and then went down the list of requirements and made sure you did all of them. Of course doing more than required got you a better mark, but you knew you weren’t going to fail if you did everything. The project for my first web design course involved making a site that used all the elements we had been taught.
Including Frames, and embedded midi files.
Unfortunately I don’t have a screenshot or the code so I will paint a picture in your mind with the power of my words. The site was split into 2 frames – a large one at the top for the site content and a small one at the bottom for the navigation. It had a tiling image of stars in the background (another need – tiling images), the bottom frame had a different image – it was actually the same image but with a fade to black gradient – I was trying to add a bit of class. The text was yellow (inline font styles – it took me another year to get into css). The content was laid out in tables – and I think there was an animated gif somewhere. And the best bit?
When you loaded the page it automatically played the Axel F theme tune from Beverly Hills Cop. Oh yeah!
I passed my course – and I never made another website that embedded midi sound files that autoplayed. I spent the next 6 years trying to get a job as a 3d video game artist but never quite got there. I did make a bunch of games on my own though :).
In 2004 I decided to change direction and because of my self-published games I managed to get a job at Miniclip as a Flash game artist – transitioning into a web development role that I still have today.
I like to think my websites have improved since 1998.
Axel F – the soundtrack of my childhood… and my first website.