Written by Jeffrey Bennett

What's it like to be a Full-Spectrum Web Experience Engineer? Well, that's just fancy speak for "I do a lot of stuff on the web." It might help to tell you a bit about how I got to this point.

So waaaayyy back in 1997, the internet was a magical and mysterious place. And then, I was introduced to...

HTML

That's the language that structures every webpage on the internet. It's pretty freakin' fantastic, but it also has a big ego. Like huuuuge! I mean, it's in use on more webpages than the entire human population of earth.

So I guess it has a right to brag a little.

Where was I going with that? Oh yeah, HTML is fun, but it creates some very plain and frankly boring websites without...

CSS

Dun dun duuunnnhhh... *dramatic music*

This is what gives a webpage its style, its character, its personality! This is the cheese, lettuce, and ketchup on your plain hamburger. It's all the extra fluff. You get the idea.

CSS determines how a page looks, and is used in combination with HTML. These two are best buddies, practically inseparable, they love to hang out together. Kind of like that cheesy newlywed couple down the street that just... I'm getting off topic again.

So now, the new kid in town shows up...

JavaScript

He's cool, he's got a nice car, knows what to say and how to impress. JavaScript is who everybody secretly wishes they could be. But alas, some of us are just born with all the luck.

JavaScript defines how you interact with a HTML webpage. It's all the bells and whistles. It can play that embarrassing cat video you can't get enough of.

It also gives us drag 'n drop, browser storage, touch events, and the infamous and crazy-annoying popups.

With great power comes great responsibility.

...or something like that.

Jeez, all this talk about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and I've barely scratched the surface. Better get to work or I'll have you here all night!

Those are the front-end languages I've come to know and love. But they're very limiting when you have to do it all by hand.

I wanted a way to build websites faster, better, and with more power. So I looked for server-side languages that could help me do this. That's when I found...

PHP

So now the real fun begins! PHP takes care of all sorts of exciting stuff on the server. It can process form data, generate images, read external websites, and so much more. And the really crazy part is that it's used by 82.6% of the entire known internet.

PHP was me upgrading from a Chevy Cobalt to a Mercedes SL Roadster. Suddenly, I could do all the things I was before but at 10x the speed! It was so much fun. The windows were rolled down, the wind blowing in my hair, driving near the ocean... Life was good!

It's all fun and games until somebody needs a database. Guess who decided to join the party...

MySQL

Suddenly, we have a know-it-all who likes to brag about how smart he is, and how many data tables he's crunched in the past 0.0003 seconds.

Ultimately a pain in the butt, but really useful for all sorts of things, like remembering account information and the last time you called your mom. I guess he can stay...

But now, this party is getting really big and out of hand. The music is blasting, people are dancing on the coffee table, breaking champagne glasses, and doing who knows what in the hallway closet... chaos ensues.

Not to fear! Guess who's here to save the day...

AJAX

No no, not that crazy kitchen cleaner. AJAX is like the ambassador for the United Nations. He has a way with others. He brings order to chaos and can ease the tension between conflicted languages. Oh, and he's crazy fast too! He literally bridges the gap between front and back-end languages.

Boom! Just like that, the universe has achieved equilibrium, the party is back to normal, and the neighbors decided they weren't going to call the police after all.

This is a very accurate depiction. 😜

AJAX sends and receives small pieces of information rather than having to navigate to a different page. He can update your shopping cart or send an email without ever leaving the workflow. And because the requests are smaller, they're also faster! Win-win!

Fast forward a few years, and I'm itching for more. After trying my luck with fine art photography, I discovered I was pretty damn good at visual composition and design.*

*Not bragging. This is a fact. 😜

I wanted to take my websites to the next level and graphic design seemed like the logical choice.

I learned and studied. And learned and studied a lot more. I really began to understand the concepts and rules of graphic design. And then I went minimalist.

Void of excess.

And it was lovely! I felt so free, like a bird singing into a meadow. The more I looked into this newfangled idea of getting rid of as many things as I possibly could, the more I liked it.

Ironically, it created more work for me. Suddenly, everything left over was amplified and the effects were much more noticeable. Now I have to be extra careful when I craft these elements. And I have to be sure the element I'm building is the right one for the job.

I began to see design everywhere, even when I wasn't actively looking. Now I'll see something in real life and want to adjust the brightness and contrast just a little. I judge your worth as a human being based on your website's typeface (kidding).

Design changed my life.

Graphic design is like the sophisticated pinot noir you drink with your medium-rare filet mignon. Cooked to perfection! Juicy, tender, refined.

And it's getting all over this rental. Somebody get me a napkin, quick!

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Life is too short for bad websites!

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