David Martin with his first computer, an Apple III in 1988

When did you decide that web design was the career for you?

In 1998, in my junior year of high school @ Bloomington High School North, I took an Advanced Social Studies course taught by Joann Frye and Pat Wilson. I participated in a group project in which we had to present important historical events from the 1960s. As part of the class presentation, I decided to teach myself how to create a website, rather than using a PowerPoint presentation.

Hotmail Snapshot of their homepage on Dec 10th, 1997
On one of the lunch breaks I even remember signing up for one of the first free webmail services (Hotmail) in 1997! Here’s a snapshot of their homepage on Dec 10th, 1997

Thankfully, the Bloomington North library had a bank of computers that students could use on their breaks. I invested countless hours surfing the web, reading articles, learning HTML, and playing online role-playing games.

It was awesome being able to send messages online, play games with others, and even have my own email account! Little did most of us know, that the World Wide Web was about to explode into our daily lives in ways we would never imagine!

The open nature of the internet and being able to view any website’s source code allowed me to learn how to create custom HTML designs and integrate elements from other websites. Our school IT department allowed our teacher some web hosting space and Mrs. Frye gave me the credentials so that I could upload my website files. Thank you to everyone involved for making this happen!

After studying the HTML source code of other websites, I learned that I could copy and paste the HTML source code from what others created and then modify it for my purposes. I’d make changes, save the file, and then upload it to the school server. After refreshing my browser, it was like magic!

David Martin – Web Designer

My very first website had all sorts of “rookie mistakes”. I chose really trippy psychedelic fractal backgrounds that changed on each page, linked to other people’s images on their server instead of downloading them to the local server (graphics of Elvis, Vietnam, JFK, “The Love Generation”, etc…), and all sorts of other web design no-nos. I even learned about copyright on this project because one of the photographers of an image that I used about the Vietnam war emailed to ask us to take the image down!

It’s amazing what you can teach yourself after thinking back on all of the things I have learned since this first web design project! Teaching myself a new skill was so awesome and it lead to me realizing that one of my true passions was to be a web designer and create things for the internet.