I can remember getting my domain back in 2000. I was just days away from graduation and hot on this “web design” whatsit after taking an intro class over the previous summer.
I finished my portfolio early and was already shopping my work around to get a job. The one agency where I really wanted to work was split evenly between print and web work, websites being a distinct missing feature from my all-print portfolio. I resolved to spend all of Christmastime “learning” Flash and getting a workable portfolio site online.
The personal branding I developed in school centered around the idea of a nerdy noir hitman of sorts: design for hire. I quickly set about abusing Flash like most first timers, spinning and scaling with little regard for my actions. The absence of a bitchin’ soundtrack was likely only due to time constrains. The end result somehow netted me the job I wanted and paved the way for later years of personal expression via the mighty pixel.
As embarrassing as it might be, I’m putting that old version (as well as my second site) online because I believe in trying to preserve the things we make. We all have the urge to redesign our websites every other month, but it’s heartbreaking to see old designs just vanish forever. The things we write are published with a specific design and context. When we change that, we break the context and alter the original qualities of that piece of work.
We haven’t had enough time to step back and see web design objectively. Will the work we’re doing have historical significance? Sure. Will it have historical significance in design? Probably. We won’t know for some time still. There are organizations like Archive.org/Wayback Machine that are doing a good job of capturing the web, but it’s still not quite there yet. For now, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for us to keep our own archives. It’s not perfect either, but it’s something.
Give Me Your Tired, Boring, and Assy
Have a first website you want to share? Better yet, if you’ve moved past your first website, put previous versions back online permanently for everyone’s benefit. Ya know, so we can all look back and laugh together.