How I Started

I often get asked “how do you know all this?”, or “what course did you do at University?”. People assume that to learn a skill you have to go on a course and be taught it.

For me the majority of my web development knowledge is largely all self taught.

To find out more have a look at the timeline below to see what I learnt age 12 in 1998 compared to where we are now!

prodpic-6037My ICT teacher at school taught us (a bunch of 12 year olds) the basics of how to code a website.

We were taught the very basic HTML the was around then, but this was enough to make a half decent website. Background images, colours bold text, links and images etc.

The computers we learnt with were Acorn PC’s they were the modern computer compared to “The BBC” but┬áseem positively archaic now!

I built my first websites. These included one for my local amateur theatre company – The Chipstead Players which was their first ever venture onto the internet! I also built a website for my friends’ band – Gossamer!

Live back then was all about using splash pages and framesets, both things that we look back on and shudder just at the thought of these days!

Also around this time I was using CSS to customise my MySpace page, along with free services like Lycos, Tripod and Yahoo Geocities.

The internet and web development had moved on quickly since I first learnt about it in 1998 and I continued to learn new skills by teaching myself.

I would look at website I liked the look of, and view the source code of the page to try and figure out how they achieved that look or function. Then try and implement the same concept on my own site.

Whilst at University I built my first commercial viable website using my own code (rather than template builders like Tripod or Geocities). This was gappies.net an online community portal for gap students around the world. It was build using PHP, HTML and CSS using the Joomla CMS (1.0).

Whilst at University I used my self-taught expertise to being new projects and take part in ongoing ones. Being on the web team for a number of voluntary organisations that I spent my spare time on.

This allowed me to be exposed to other platforms and frameworks, including my first time managing a self-hosted server. (Rather than using FTP to a shared host, I had learnt the benefits of SSH and the command line!)

Most notably my first experience of the MVC philosophy was whilst volunteering at Pure FM where I learnt all about the SMARTY Template Engine.

After leaving university and joining a full time workforce I started charging small amounts of money for my web development skills. In 2013 my primary income was now web development and online media production rather than my work in the radio industry.

I was officially a self-employed freelancer.