(Above - Mockup of how my first web site looked)
May 1999 and the Millennium Bug and Marilyn Manson were on the Daily Mail radar of fear, but for me more pressing concerns were whether The Rock would defeat Triple H at the WWF’s Backlash pay-per-view event. It was also approaching the end of the school year and exams were looming. It’s a time I should have spent stocking up on highlighter pens and notepads, but there was something else taking up my time. A new phenomena was giving young people an outlet for expressing themselves; the Internet.
If you were a shy 14 year old boy, the Internet was basically a free pass to talk to ANY GIRL ON THE PLANET without showing her how spotty your face was, how uncool your clothes were, and the fact you had no personality to speak of whatsoever. Yahoo Messenger (A/S/L) gave us the confidence to talk to girls, albeit through pixels on a screen. It also gave young creatives like me the opportunity to move out of traditional design and into this developing digital world. It was an opportunity for a 14 year old boy from Eccles, Greater Manchester, to have his work seen in SaoPaolo, Brazil and Detroit, Michigan.
My mum bought me my first PC in 1998; a Hewlett Packard with no more than 2GB of free space available, and I quickly began filling up the WinAmp playlists with Rage Against the Machine, Offspring and Oasis albums (Napster). Me and my 56k dial-up modem were the best of friends.
In those pre-MySpace and Facebook days, personal web sites were rare. That’s when I discovered Homestead.
Homestead was a type of drag-and-drop website creator. It was basically a ‘fill in the blanks’ type web-hosting tool that allowed me to insert my very own background and upload any old thoughts I had to it. I was naive and thought every man and his dog, from Newcastle to Plymouth would be interested in what I had to say. My design skills were only just developing so I suppose this story isn’t the start of my journey as an experienced Designer, but I wanted to share information with the world for the first time.
When the aforementioned WWE pay-per-view came around and The Rock had defeated Triple H, I excitedly stayed up past 4am and announced the winners on my site. Back then, the Internet was only free from 6pm-midnight so when my mum, weary-eyed, broke and up for work at 7am, popped her head around my door at 4:30, I hurriedly hit the publish button before she could pull out the plug, disconnect me and stop my words from reaching the World Wide Web.
I’m sure that any six-year-old could fiddle about with a couple of themes on Wordpress and develop a better-looking site than my first effort, but what it meant to me at the time was something entirely new. When the hit counter began to rise from six views to fifty views to three-hundred views, it convinced me that the world DID want to see what I had to say for myself. Admittedly, the hits were probably mostly from myself hitting the refresh button, but it was the start of something that would give me a career I can also call my hobby.
God bless those AOL Discs that never stopped flying through my postbox like an invitation to Hogwarts.
Note : This was an entry into the first website competition run my domain provider 123-Reg