Woman standing in cave with light coming in from top right.
Photo courtesy Joshua Sortino.

The archeology of a design career

What would a future you find excavating the layers of past work?

Chris Raymond, PhD
4 min readOct 25, 2021

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I recently went down the rabbit hole of the Wayback Machine. My coworkers and I were coming up with concepts for an ugly sweater, and one of us pulled up snapshots of our company’s home pages over the years. Yikes. But, also, gosh, maybe my old websites weren’t so bad, right?

I went into graphic design from a fairly successful career as a journalist and editor. Because of that background, my sweet spot as a designer is integrating content and design, function and form. That thread has been a constant for 20+ years. What’s changed over time is my skills and the kind of design work I’m doing. What follows is a virtual archeological dig into my web design career, cringes and all.

(If you’re really into web archeology, check out this article at the Web Design Museum.)

Neolithic Age: Hand-coding html, tackling css for layout

Home page of my website from around 2005.
My first portfolio site, circa 2005, was influenced by the work of pioneers like Eric Meyer and Dan Cederholm.

In the early 2000s, bandwidth was an issue: Fewer than 3 in 10 households had high speed internet at home. So my images were small — and mostly gifs. Black backgrounds were the rage. At this stage of my career, my portfolio was about 2:1 print over web. I hand-coded the pages after studying sites of web designers I admired. My primitive toolkit included Fireworks, Photoshop, and BBEdit. I was still learning how to use css for layout, and I coded mouse-over effects using inline javascript. And yes, my logo was much better in concept than execution.

Renaissance: Classic lines, personality, php

Lots changed by 2011: I designed a better logo, I was active on social media, I had a lot more work to show — and in terms of skills, I started using php and building pages using includes.

Home page of my website, circa 2011.
This version of the site had a cleaner, lighter look and used php includes to build pages from pieces.

I also had a growing collection of vintage metal wind-up toys, which I used in the footer…

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Chris Raymond, PhD

Artist, designer, snark lover. Cynical takes on senior life, sentimental ones on family. She/her www.chrisaraymond.dunked.com | www.instagram.com/chrisrcreates/