Elements or Lower

Thu, 26 Jul 2007

Ten. Five. Two.

It’s anniversary season for Andrew.

Ten Years.

In July 1997, I set up Article Seven. My original intent was to provide graphic and web design to students organisations, with a greater emphasis on the former. But I quickly discovered that this wasn’t really a viable market niche, and that I was far better at getting things to work properly on the web than I was in print.

Although I was fortunate enough to be able to keep everything afloat, it took two years for the company to really find its feet, when I was brought on board to redesign the web sites of both Woking Borough Council and FISITA. Those relationships have lasted to this day, and form the vast bulk of the work I do. I barely feel like a freelancer: it’s like being a staff member at each place. I’m invited to Christmas meals, mentioned in Annual Reports, discussed in the staff magazine.

I moved to Woking in mid-1999, and noticed that the Council’s site contained a page of links to local companies, so I emailed them asking to be included, and offering to reciprocate by providing a consistent set of button images, since the navigation buttons on their site at the time had been clearly built from a variety of sources over time. It was my very great fortune that the Council were just about to start a tender process for the redevelopment of their site, to which I was invited to submit a proposal. At the time, I was able to promise a lot for very little money, and by spring 2000, the new site was launched.

Since that time, the site’s been redesigned a couple of times, and the Council have sponsored the development of the Content Management System that now powers their main site, community site, intranet and kiosk sites — together with SurreyWaste, The NPC, Monks and, of course, FISITA and FISITA 2008.

The initial creation of the CMS has consequently been the professional highlight of the past 10 years, although having my work nominated for an award, and being mentioned in an O’Reilly book (page 114 — what a thrill!) were inarguably bigger ego inflators.

Five Years.

And in July 2002, we moved from Woking to Greenwich. Article Seven, which had been run from the world’s best shed, grew up and found a proper studio, behind and under which we live.

I love it here, always have, and I can’t imagine wanting to move again for some considerable time yet. About a month ago, Tesco’s opened down the road, Marks and Spencers moved into the garage a couple of hundred yards away, and The O2 opened its doors. I honestly don’t know which of these pleased me more.

Just beyond the Maritime Museum, there’s a shop selling nautical paraphernalia that proclaims itself as “the first shop in the world,” being a few seconds west of the meridian. I’m about four seconds east of the meridian, and thus by the same logic, the last web development bureau in the world. I rather like that.

Two Years.

30 July 2005, my wedding day. A happier whirlwind of a day I couldn’t have asked for, followed immediately by the most carefree, indulgent and fun three weeks of my life. I really can’t believe it’s been so long already.

Shelley and I are as close now as we were then — closer, in fact, due in no small measure to working together on our honeymoon gift list service and the birth of our fabulous daughter, ZoŽ.

ZoŽ’s ten months old now, and seems to believe that Daddy is Mister Potato-Head, with removable nose and ears.

Life is good.