Since 2005, I have been designing both static and interactive Web sites for a variety of businesses, people, and just for fun. Web site design provides me with both challenges and a feeling of accomplishment. The more complex the site, the more I want to dive in and make it happen.
It all started for me in early 2004. As the world was changing, so was my career. I could see the proverbial writing on the wall as the world wide web was taking over. I even remember telling someone "one day, you will have your newspaper sent directly to a device." That person scoffed at the notion, but here we are, getting our periodicals over a device. With that, my life is newspaper was coming to an end. So, I joined the parade and went back to school to get a second degree in multimedia/web design.
For three years, I toiled back in school. Working nights afforded me the time to study. I still remember the first time I was able to code something to read a MySQL database. It was like I discovered a golden nugget.
My first offical web job was for the company I currently work for in the summer of 2005. They wanted an e-commerce site to sell containers. The IT director at the time had sign the company up for a CMS called MonsterCommerce, a quick Google search informed me the company was bought by Network Solutions in 2006. MonsterCommerce was clunky and the gal who was trying to get the store up was struggling. It was an ASP site. Within a couple of weeks, I was able to get the store to a point where it was functionable. By the fall, it was apparent ECS wanted someone full time to not only complete the e-commerce site, but manage it. I was hired in October 2005 and I had the web site, ecspolymerics.com, up and running by January. We didn't actually make a sale until August 2006. But for me, that first sale was landmark. The site was shuttered in late 2006. We made exactly three sales off of it.
I was intimately involved in several redesigns of the company web sites. I took updated photos that replaced very awful low resolution pictures. I created several multimedia applications, including a 360 degree view of the product for the first redesign. In 2010, we brought back the online store and used Magento as the CMS. Magento is a very easy and user-friendly CMS for commerce sites. It's easy to process orders through, but there were limitations as far as how we sell our product that we could not get around. Currently, we use MODX as the CMS. It's clunky as all get out, but the reviews I have read, most developers love it. I just need to get used to it.
As far as CMSes, the weapon of choice for many is Wordpress. Not me. I don't like that they make you purchase add ons and themes, if you are not a developer. Wordpress is popular because the CMS allows for easy editing and you can actually create a free blog site. I discovered Concrete5 last year, and really like it a lot. Concrete5 is based out of Portland it's the CMS I use for this web site. If I were to build another site that requires a CMS, Concrete5 is the CMS I choose each time.
My philosophy with designing web sites is let's storyboard it, sitemap it and then figure out the calls to actions.