Digital Deceptions WordCamp Toronto 2009

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How Digital Deceptions transitioned from a Flash based website to a WordPress Content Management System and all the benefits and doors it has opened for me over the last year.

Text of Digital Deceptions WordCamp Toronto 2009

  • 1.Hello everyone how are you doing? My name is Duncan and Im a freelance graphic and web designer.I would first like to start off by stressing the fact that I am not a technical guy at all, Im neither a developer nor a programmer and you will often hear me say that throughout my presentation today.

2. When it comes to those disciplines I only know the basics and by playing around with the code and following standards I have learnt to go a little bit beyond that. Today I would like to talk to you about my websiteDigital Deceptionsand how a graphics guy like me has made the transition from building plain old basic HTML and CSS sites to heavily animated Flash pages. 3. I will then tell you how I got into WordPress and all the benefits and doors it has opened for me over the last year. So before I get into all the WordPress stuff I think it is important to tell you a little bit about my background so you know where I am coming from and how I have gotten up to this point standing here in front of you. 4. For as long as I can remember I have always been quite creative, I could draw and paint but I was always more concerned with how things should look rather than how they worked.I could copy almost anything I wanted just by looking at it, and if I had an image in my head I was able to get it out on paper. 5. But I was the type of guy who would start a drawing on a page and soon run out of space.Yes I had talent but I lacked ambition, goals and training.Unfortunately I never took advantage of my talent and never really utilized or developed my skill when I should of in high school. 6. I must admit that it was a mistake and for a long time after I graduated I felt that I had missed out on a great opportunity.A couple of years after high school in 1995 when the internet came along my family got out first modern computer and soon after that we were online. 7. When I first started surfing the web it was so new and trendy and I would constantly hear about all the money people were making from it. It was like the Wild West and that aspect of it really appealed to me and right away I wanted to become a part of it somehow. 8. Although I didnt know anything about computers at the time they fascinated me and the internet even more so.What amazed me the most was how intricate some of the web sites could get, it was like art and technology collided. 9. Without even knowing the first step in creating a page the seed had been planted and I knew I wanted to make web sites for a living.Believe it or not the first computer program I ever used was MS Paint which I thought had a lot of potential but just didnt quite have the functionality I wanted. 10. I eventually grew out of Paint when a friend of mine later introduced me to Adobe Photoshop 4.I was instantly hooked.I knew right away that Photoshop was a very powerful tool but I didnt realize at the time that is was also going to be a gateway to a long and interesting journey. 11. I actual learnt how to use the internet by looking for Photoshop tutorials and as I was surfing the web I was noticing that just like today some websites were much better than others.Even though some sites look really good they just dont have much to offer either because the content is sparse, its not very well planned or laid out. 12. It seemed to me that the better sites I would find were not much to look at but the information they provided was excellent. So quite early on I realized that web users come for the content and even though I was a bit of a dumb ass I knew that I needed to develop my writing abilities if I was going to pursue this as a career. 13. So before I even knew the first steps to building a website I started teaching myself how to write properly by studying magazines.Specifically the Computer Arts magazine, I thought I might as well kill two birds with one stone and learn all about design as well. 14. I would first flip through the pages studying the graphics, colours and layout and then I would read them from cover to cover.I was finding inspiration, learning the latest trends and tutorials but most importantly I was learning about the industry. I soon began to craft the content for mine own website which little did I know wouldnt exist for another couple of years. 15. Because of all the tutorials I was learning online and from magazines my Photoshop skills were getting much better.I managed to get myself a Geocities site and I was able to do all the basic stuff like inserting images, making links and adding content. 16. I found that adding content was going to be a huge hurdle and a reoccurring issue that I was going to have to face if I was going to be a web designer.You see I was thinking to the future and wondering if I had 40 clients, how was I going to manage to handle all those content updates?What was I going to do? Nothing. 17. I wasnt going anywhere quick teaching myself how to be a designer and then one Sunday afternoon I happened to catch a TV commercial advertising a Graphic Design program in Toronto. It mentioned Photoshop and web design and a bunch of other stuff but all I heard wasPhotoshop and web design. 18. I had never thought about going to college before, yes I was a bit of a knucklehead but this could be my big break and I had to give it a shot.I enrolled in the course which started in late summer and I was under the impression that I would be taught everything I would need to become a web designer.but little did I know the computer graphics program that I had signed up to was just computer graphics. 19. Isnt that funny? I was going to be taught how to make computer graphics for print design not how to program websites.The part thatI had heard on the commercial was just them explaining about the little intro to web design and multimedia section that the course contained. I was so excited I just assumed it was a web program, see how much of a knucklehead I was? 20. The web design portion of the course was only one week long and we were just taught how to build an HTML site using tables and frames, not even a mention of CSS. Towards the end of the program we also did an intro unit on Multimedia which was a month long, this is where I learnt about animations, video and CD ROM design. 21. Although I may be an accidental graphic designer, taking that program taught me everything you could possibly imagine about graphics, Photoshop and Illustrator which are by far my strongest attributes as a designer today. The course also gave me a huge edge over my new classmates when I decided to continue my education by signing on to do another course, multimedia and web design. 22. But I kind of made the same mistake again.The new course covered animation, Flash, Director, HTML, a bit of Java and CSS. But just like the program before I believed that I was going to be taught how to program a website. All I wanted to do was easily update and change content, and maybe have a shopping cart. 23. I just wanted to get away from the plain old boring static sites that I could already do and make something that somebody wanted to use. Dont get me wrong the course did teach me a lot and was very intense at times but it wasnt what I thought it was going to be. 24. When it came to programming much like the first course this web design and multimedia program had an introductory class where we were only taught the basics.The first day of the class we talked about the difference between a web designer and a web developer.I never knew the difference before then but I finally got it. 25. If I was going to become a programmer I was going to have to take yet a third course, web development which I never did thank goodness.Because after the intro unit I had realized from the little bit of programming we covered that I really didnt like programming after all. I knew enough Flash and HTML to get by so it kind of worked out in the end. 26. If I sound like I am dogging school a bit Im really not, although you dont need to go to college to become a designer I highly recommend it.Nothing beats somebody showing you how to use software as appose to reading about it in a book or online. And you also get the teachers experience. 27. So as school wrapped up I was kind of forced into working for myself because by that time the bubble burst and the age of the dotcom boom was over, I felt I missed an opportunity yet again.Design studio work was nonexistent and all the much more talented and experience designers were cleaning up all the freelance jobs. It was quite depressing. 28. In 2002 I took the leap and registered my companyDigital Deceptionsand struggled for about two years or so.I had to work fulltime and par time jobs in between to make ends meet until finally I started to get a little client base going.I was mostly providing graphic design services such as logos and flyers but then websites started being what clients were looking for most. 29. The websites I was building were mostly made using HTML but as I was starting to create larger sites I was running into that old issue with the updates and changes again.The problem being was each page in the site contained all the page elements, the header, footer and sidebar. 30. So for instance if I had a 40 page site and the client wanted to change the Contact button to Contact Us in the navigation bar I would have to make that change on every single page. The navigation code was literally in each page, so that would be 40 changes which is very inefficient. 31. So to avoid the problem I decided that I was only going to concentrate on making Flash sites. They were all the rage at the time.I was able to better utilize my graphics skills. Flash sites looked the same no matter what browser you used. 32. And updates were much easier because all the page elements were separate files that were all called to from the main Flash movie. That means if I needed to change something in the nav bar all I had to do was simply change that on