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    Sarah is co-director of Malvolio. She brings her creative skills to the business, and loves concept development in commercial projects, illustration, and working on various self-initiated paper craft projects in her spare time.

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    Sarah: my history with webdesign

    A personal post today: how did I get into webdesign?

    I grew up in a house without a computer. We didn’t get a computer until I was in year 9, when the school I attended required students to type their essays instead of handwriting them. However, I had already been going to the local internet cafe every day after school, making the most of my hour on the net. We are in the year 2000, by the way.

    During that hour each day, I found Yahoo groups. I soon realised these could be customised with colours and your own images. I worked out what HTML colours meant and got customising. As soon as I had my own computer at home, I started using Jasc Paint Shop Pro (memories!) and designing my own banners. Terrible now, but it was the beginning of my career and I had no idea.

    Yahoo Groups were boring. I wanted to do more. I idolised fan websites of my favourite TV shows and bands, and wished I could be as creative as that. I wanted to learn to create what they had created. I wanted to do MORE than what they were doing. I had to learn HTML.

    You can laugh now, but I actually started at www.lissaexplains.com. A daggy website now, but back then it was exactly what I needed. I soaked in every page, followed every tutorial. What Lissa Explains It All couldn’t offer, I did additional tutorials over at Webmonkey (no longer online). I started building my own websites – fan websites, personal websites, websites for friends…whatever I could do. I hated how basic HTML was on its own, so I picked up CSS along the way, adding some Javascript and CGI scripts for even more features.

    I was learning, yet I didn’t realise how much I was learning. That was until year 10: we had a project to code a website in IT class. I already knew how to. It was surreal. I had only owned a computer for less than a year and I could already build websites from scratch. I ended up showing all my classmates how to add scrolling marquees and blinking text (thank goodness neither of those are in anymore!), until my teacher got really frustrated and gave me a Javascript textbook to learn from instead.

    There was no turning back. By now, I was fully capable of editing photos, creating unique layout designs, making pixel art. I learned so much about colour schemes and typography during this time, too. So I kept creating. I kept coding. I kept building new websites as often as I could.

    I tried out designing Flash websites, and while that was also fun – I’m grateful it wasn’t to be forever. I loved solid code.

    Fast forward a few years later, we had started to move away from tables and into div layers. Oh how excited I was (#nerdtalk). The possibilities were opening up. And then there were content management systems. I had dabbled in ASP early on while managing a few existing websites…but then there was PHP. And how I fell in love with the possibilities. It changed everything about webdesign: no longer would a website need to be static or fully managed by someone who knows code. A website could be custom designed, and someone else with basic editing skills could maintain the content. This was the biggest turning point.

    From there, coding and learning and developing continued. By the time I graduated university, I already had many paid webdesign projects – I don’t remember how it happened, but it snowballed and became a big part of my work.

    11 years later, and webdesign is now a major portion of our studio. I am still constantly learning new code, and designing websites for our clients is just as much of a joy now as it was all the way back in the beginning. You know, I didn’t even realise what I was doing was “designing” when I was 15. I was just having fun!