There’s no other way to describe my initiation into web design and development than a baptism by fire. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.
Moving from a repro house to a design studio involved way more changes than I had anticipated. Within a few weeks of starting at JH Design, I realised that I wasn’t cut out for a daily 90-minute commute (both ways) and found a rental property posthaste. My professional and adult life kicked off in one go!
Looking back, I was delivering a completely new website or web application per month, aside from doing maintenance on the other web properties I was in charge of. The web was in its infancy and I got to play my part in it.
The clients were as varied as the designs our team came up with for them. There were a few plain and simple websites for guest houses, lodges, and lifestyle estates, but the bulk of the work was to build dynamic websites with admin backends for clients to manage the content.
Maxiprest was one of the long-running clients at JH Design – a tyre manufacturer for the commercial and mining industries. We initially built only a marketing and information website but later I also developed a custom intranet. One of the nice side projects was to design icons for a tyre management application they developed.
Consol Speciality Glass
This project was quite an intense exercise. Aside from building the site and admin interface, we also had to scan, clean up and remove the background from every product in their catalogue. Considering we didn’t have 32-bit transparent PNGs, it took quite a bit of work to ensure everything looked as good as it could against the striped background.
BJ’s Fast Food
With this project, the marketing website played second fiddle to the purpose-built intranet for staff and franchisees. The intranet featured a messaging component with email notifications. Franchisees could capture and view their monthly figures with automatically generated royalty declarations. Franchisees could also report incidents with suppliers, with the head office following up and resolving these issues. Customer care issues from the main website could be tracked and followed up through the intranet allowing the head office to build reports on all or individual stores.
Within my first year, I got to give the company’s website a complete makeover as part of a larger brand refresh. I still count it as among one of my favourite web designs as I got to inject a lot of my personality into it.
jhNet was a custom-built intranet for ourselves that allowed staff to store, manage and track jobs. All clients’ details were stored in the system along with service and job histories. Jobs in progress could be viewed and cancelled jobs flagged. It could search across almost all captured details, and old jobs were easily retrievable as each job, once finished, got backed up to CD and captured.
Aside from web design, I got to do some conventional design work now and again as well.