As the spread of web standards reaches exponential levels, there has been much reflection on just how far the web has come, and how much our individual perceptions of it have changed since we were first introduced to it. To look at the first web site I ever made compared with the work I’m doing now makes me wonder if there isn’t something to the notion of “progress” after all. Here is the story of that site.
It was the spring of 1998; I was a Communication Design major at Kutztown University; and instead of gearing up for graduation at the end of the semester like all of those squares that were graduating on time, I was spending all of my time on projects for my animation class, to the extent that I was even finding ways to repurpose that work for most of my assignments in other classes.
With the exception of a small handful of elective multimedia workshops, Kutztown’s design program at the time was focused entirely on print. My introduction to web design was in a forward-thinking production processes class that added HTML to the curriculum in the wake of the prepress paste-up mechanical’s recently finalized obsolescence.
As it happened, the animation project I was working on when I was introduced to HTML was a trailer for a fictional film based on a comic book concept I had developed with some friends. So my first web site was the official online home for Santa and the Gas Troopers, a fearsome squad of gas-masked vigilantes led by Father Christmas himself. They could not have asked for a more luxurious web presence. It was a table-based assemblage of copious animated GIFs and
font tags, built with Adobe PageMill, and using every last scrap of artwork I created for the trailer, as well as the trailer itself (my first stab at digitizing analog video and compressing it for the web). Surprisingly, as emasculating as it was for a print designer to relinquish typographic control to a web browser, I suppressed the urge to use exclusively graphical text. This noble gesture did not yield pleasant results.
Unfortunately, the Santa and the Gas Troopers site is no longer online, and darn it if I just can’t find any of the original files to show screenshots…
What was your first site?