I became interested in website design & development as a student at the University of Alberta, where I was pursuing a degree in English Lit. This was 1996, long before “blog” became a household word or content management systems were accessible to everyone, and personal home pages were all the rage. I wanted to stake out my own little corner of cyberspace, and I set about teaching myself the basics of HTML and simple graphic design techniques using the software available at the campus computer labs and whatever free programs I could get my hands on to install on my computer at home.
Website design quickly became a passion for me, and I spent as much time outside of class and work as possible trying out bigger and better concepts as I acquired new and more advanced skills, constantly revising and rebuilding my home page. Whenever I encountered a new technique that I wanted to try, I dove into the code, figured out how it was done, and then tweaked it for my own requirements. I’ve continued using this approach all through my career, eventually teaching myself WordPress, PHP/mySQL and Adobe Creative Suite.
After graduating from the U of A, I started my career in Marketing Communications, primarily as a copywriter in the IT sector. This seemed like a natural fit with my interest in internet culture and my background in English. In the beginning, I worked on marketing collateral, press releases, website copy, technical documents, and positioning papers. Eventually I branched out into some trade show/event planning and website/graphic design work.
I initially founded CodeWord Media Design in the spring of 2006, during a career transition. At this point, I was spending more time working on my own personal website design & development projects in my off-hours than I was at my day job, and my skills had progressed to a level where I felt I could make website design my primary career. I wanted to take some time off from the daily 9-5 grind and try my hand at freelancing.
The following spring, I put CodeWord on the backburner when I accepted a full-time position as the Marketing Coordinator Website Development for an internationally distributed industrial manufacturing company. In this role, I was responsible for all aspects of their corporate website. I designed the aesthetic concept and navigation structure, produced graphic and multimedia elements, developed most of the site’s written copy, and programmed back end architecture and functionality. I also delivered comprehensive reports on a monthly basis that analyzed the website’s performance (user traffic, page popularity, keyword conversion, referral traffic, search engine ranking, etc.), as well as the performance of online marketing initiatives designed to drive traffic, such as Google AdWords. I stayed there for almost 3 years, but I never gave up on CodeWord. I picked up a couple of small freelance gigs on the side during my time there, and still dreamed of one day starting my own business.
By the start of 2010, I was ready to make the break, but due to some significant challenges in my personal life, I needed some time off to regroup. It wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that the timing felt right to re-launch CodeWord Media Design. I was very active in social media during my time away from work, and was lucky to build contacts and connections there. When I first started, I had 4 active clients. Today, I have a growing client list of over 25, which includes a few names you might recognize: Edmonton’s French Quarter Business Association, former City Councillor and current federal Conservative MP Kerry Diotte, the University of Alberta Work of Arts project, and many more.
I’m also more in love with WordPress than ever, which is why I have chosen to focus on it almost exclusively as far as my website development projects go. Website design & development is a constantly changing and evolving field and there are always new challenges and new things to learn. Since re-launching my company, I’ve explored e-Commerce and shopping in WordPress, as well as diving headfirst into responsive design by getting cozy with Bootstrap. My custom theming skills advance with every project I work on. My next goal is to learn more about writing custom plugins.
I am active in several community groups for website developers and tech professionals in Edmonton, including serving as a Lead Instructor/Mentor for the Edmonton Chapter of Ladies Learning Code, a member of the organizing committee for WordPress Edmonton, and a session presenter at WordCamp Edmonton 2013.
I’m excited about the future of my career, and always look forward to the opportunity to work with new people. If you think one of them could be you, drop me a line!