Interesting look from Baldur Bjarnason on the rising barrier to entry in web design.

From memory, I created my first website in circa 1998. It was a fansite to Loki and Sigyn, because of course it was, back before they were the characters they currently are. The headings were in Curlz MT and the background was a horrific chartreuse green color because my late-90s iteration of Loki had aggressively no fashion sense, and used to always wear ratty jeans and a worn, chartreuse cable-knit sweater.1 It was flat HTML and hosted on Geocities, because of course it was.

This was Back In The Day before blogs, before social media, before Twitter and Tumblr and CSS boilerplates and HTML5 and interaction and retroaction and wireframing and prototyping. This was the late 90s, and you were lucky if you got BGCOLOR set, let alone any kind of web-readable font.

My first personal website, called The Secondfloor, prominently featured flaming rotating skull gifs. I’m not even joking.

In the late 90s, blogging became A Thing. The platforms available were LiveJournal or Blogger.2 I tried both for a while then decided I was going to write my own. I knew basically zero about programming but how hard could it be, right?

The first night I sat down to try, I cried. I knew what I wanted to write (a login page), and absolutely no idea where to even start. Luckily for me, even then I knew this was “normal”–maybe not the crying, but certainly hitting the learning curve–because luckily for me, I had access to a sympathetic, experienced developer who’d told me as much.

So I cried myself out, picked myself back up, and by the end of the night, I had a login page and was well on my way to understanding basic LAMP-stack CRUD.

That was nearly twenty years ago. I don’t do much dev work nowadays, but I still work in the technology sector. I wouldn’t if I hadn’t made that first shitty HTML site. Hell, I hadn’t even taken computer science before that.

The point is, the barrier for entry was low and I jumped it. Nowadays? Nowadays, I can’t claim I would’ve done the same.

Not necessarily a worse state of affairs, just… a different one.

  1. IDK either. In my defence, I was like fifteen at the time. []
  2. Or MovableType, IIRC, but it was too expensive for high school kids to buy the licence for. []