14 Years of making things on the web

July 14, 2016 | Design

I’ve been learning to make websites for around 14 years, here’s my storied history making things on the web.


Made one of my first table-based HTML websites. No CSS, all tables and plenty of headaches, mostly caused by the slow speed of my eMachines Pentium 3 with 256 mb of RAM.

Got my first bootleg copy of Photoshop 6.0


Realized that making basic Geocities sites, Freewebs, and Google sites was much easier than struggling through table-based HTML websites, so I used things like Photoshop, Gimp, Geocities, Freewebs to get the job done. Big into site counters, guestbooks, quotes and favorite links.

Made a site for 1st period English class, still (partially) alive today.


Got super pumped about my first 256mb flash drive I found & sent this email to my computer science teacher.

Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2005 17:41:44 -0600
I just bought a 256mb USB flash drive from best buy for about 20 dollars! sweet eh?

Discovered the wonders of Open Source software, and compiled and installed my very own Linux distro. Still making crappy awesome Googlepages [sites] (https://sites.google.com/site/walive/home)

First gmail account. Big year.


Signed up for Facebook, and bought my first iMac (g5), officially making the transition from PC —> Mac. Never looked back.

Gave a presentation in 7th period English class on open source programs, resulting in a popularity deficit I would never fully recover from.


Updated my site to be hosted on Google sites upgrading from Freewebs. Complete with a guest book, useful links, and a quote section, and more importantly, still alive today.

Continued on as webmaster of several prestigious Freewebs, Geocities, Google sites and plain ol’ HTML websites.


Started making basic flash, and Macromedia Director sites and gory stick figure animations/ games. Reprimanded multiple times for pushing the boundaries of stick figure violence in the classroom.

Most of the flash sites consisted of modifying a flash template that was purchased for around $70, then making modifications and uploading one giant .swf file to update the entire site, but they all contained sweet music, and rad page transitions.


Working on contract, I used Dreamweaver and basic PHP includes to make basic publishing websites for authors seeking publication.

Also did some work for the since outdated search engine, Cha Cha.


Still making sites with basic PHP includes, I graduated to big-boy tools like Text Wrangler, Cyber Duck, and Filezilla. Updated my personal site to have a very large image of myself on the homepage, still using tons of ID’s and writing CSS like a monster.

Began customizing Wordpress templates, and dealing with all the things that come with (databases, servers etc.). Made my first responsive webpage.


Began using Git and version control with things like local dev, still FTP-ing, but now doing basic version control. Still making mostly Wordpress, Drupal and basic PHP sites.

Tried my first hand at e-commerce using Wordpress plugins and dabbling in Magento and using Coda.


Architected my first fully autonomous ‘stack’ (if you could call it that). Working for an agency that was looking to do online video to consumer sales, I created an automated system (that 1 person could maintain). The whole thing was built to allow users to buy and automatically receive videos. Included user accounts, 800 new video uploads/month, and at least that in transactions/month.

The system was a combination of Shopify, Fetchapp, Amazon s3, a whole mess of custom scripts, and xml importing – I got real friendly with spreadsheets.

Discovered Sublime Text, Vim and Transmit, Beanstalkapp for deployment. Moved my personal site from it’s own hosting to a static site (generated by Jekyll) and hosted on Amazon S3. Went from $20/month to $1/month.


Still doing custom Wordpress templates, and basic PHP websites - both at work and in freelance, as well as occasional HTML/CSS app/UX work. Moved my personal site from S3 to just Github Pages. Went from $1/m to $0/m.

Discovered Sass, Grunt, NPM and all the things that I still use today, that make front-end development so much more pleasurable than just slaying straight code.


Started experimenting with other CMSs that were a bit more barebones, and allowed more flexibility particularly for small scale freelance work. Settled on using Perch. Still use it, and love it.

Through work, started really digging into using proper MVC. Mostly used Laravel which handled some more complicated routing, and enterprise ecommerce. Discovered the monstrosity of large-scale websites, and the mess of multiple systems/home-brewed solutions that a large company can encompass.


Officially appealing to the static-site generator mentality. Using Jekyll for more than just free Github pages sites, I migrated Laravel projects/structure to a static site structure. For a lot of the smaller sites, Laravel wasn’t worth the pain/overhead. Relying almost completely on static site compilers, basic tempting, and occasional home-brewed APIs.

Started writing big-boy Javascript, getting pretty modular, and parting (somewhat) from jQuery.


Continued using Jekyll as a static site generator - simplifying my front end tooling to Jekyll, Grunt, Sass, Stash (or Dropbox), Browserify, Imagemin and Autoprefixer.

Built my first ‘from-the-ground-up’ Node app, a fun little thing that scraped ESPN’s brackets for March Madness - I did a write up about how.