I used to design websites for a living. What a way to kick off a dusty ol’ blog! This year, 2022, marks the 20th anniversary SimpleBits—or more specifically the anniversary of the simplebits.com domain name, which I registered for my blog and later a freelance design studio. In celebration of that milestone, I thought it’d be fun to look back on the past twenty years, documenting twenty bits I learned about HTML, CSS, web design, and freelancing along with the lessons I learned through the course of my career.
So I wrote another little hardcover book. This one is the 3rd year in a row I’ve self-published a short book about something I’ve learned from and then documenting those lessons and insights along with some arguably-artistic doodles. I like to use mid-twentieth-century aesthetics for this little rascals: Cloth bound, high quality paper, offset printed with black plus one spot color, reading ribbon, easy-to-carry size, etc. They are labors of love and I’m grateful to be able to create them.
This new book is not about code. Nor is it about specific technologies. Nor is it instructional about how to make websites. What I hope it is: A helpful perspective on what making websites entailed in the “early days” of the web through the Web Standards movement of the early 2000’s. Stories from a designer who learned by viewing source over many late nights. You either lived through it as well, and perhaps these stories will be amusing and potentially reassuring, or you’re just starting out now and may benefit from hearing an old guy talk about web history. In which case you are the future and I can’t wait to learn from you.
I can’t help but get nostalgic looking back on 2 decades of web design. How IE6 has taken years off my life. And how Verdana set at precisely 11px just seemed so perfect at the time. Or that the web is a duct-taped mess and that’s why we love it. My hope is that by looking back, we can more easily move forward. Or maybe I’m just an old guy rambling on about the old days. Either way, I hope you enjoy it.