Beginning with the BASICs.

When I was kid, someone taught me BASIC on the Apple IIe and my fascination with “making computers do things” bloomed into existence. I wrote my own code to mimic Zork I and Lemonade Stand. I spent hours designing intricate Hypercard stacks as a kind of prehistoric video animation. I even learned to store, process, and search data (like titles and information from my CD and VHS library) using Pascal and Visual Basic. Ah, the eighties.

And then, while at college in the nineties, I discovered (along with millions of others) that history-making electronic signifier, which finally heralded the age of digital information: the homepage.

Coinciding as it did with my studies in music and writing, I quickly recognized that homepages (and eventually websites) were another form of storytelling, this one purely digital. So, to fully express myself, I dove into programming and database languages, like HTML, PHP, Javascript, SQL, and CSS, as well as media creation software (all things Adobe). As my generation turned its attention to “e-commerce”, I learned to build shopping carts integrated with payment processors and I got into domain name buying and selling. (I sometimes regret not being more of a squatter with those early brilliant ideas!)

Coming of age.

In 2001, while managing operations for a drop-ship warehouse, I used my hobbyist enthusiasm to tackle a professional project: a web-based system for training clients how to sell online using our wholesale products. My first step was to organize our training materials, which involved a fair amount of research and writing. I interviewed eight “coaches” and consolidated the best of their individual training programs into a consistent whole. Then, using my nascent web development talents, I custom coded a membership and training website from the ground up (this was before the widespread use of systems like WordPress).

The finished product hosted all of the training content for about 2,000 members, including progress monitoring and automated monthly billing. It also helped automate the eBay listing process for our wholesale products, complete with keyword and image editing tools (before eBay offered it natively). The back-end even tracked hours and pay for the coaches. So, in addition to handling about $650,000 in annualized revenue (excluding warehouse product sales), the automation also saved us the cost of an administrative FTE.

I ♥ web development.

Now, as a tenured marketing director, I focus on the bigger picture. But my web-developer heart still admires a well-crafted page, complete with SEO, calls to action, and a story to tell—all wrapped up in a delightful UX. Of course, I still develop sites as (more than) a hobby. My favorite approach (currently) involves WordPress, Elegant Themes, Yoast SEO, Google Search Console and Analytics, and—even now—a bit of custom coding to get it just right.