The Journey to Becoming a Web Site Designer by Charion Slocum

Posted: July 19, 2011 in Graphic Design Career

A friend of mine, Jeri Ray Payne, worked as a webmaster at HCA corporate in the 1990’s. I was doing package designs for Dixon Ticonderoga and Prang Art Supplies in Heathrow, Florida at the time. She encouraged me to learn html and design web pages. She said it was the direction of the future and she was absolutely right.

Jeri Ray Payne recommended that I find sites that I liked and study the code to figure out how they created them. She said most sites were pretty bad because artists were not designing them.  She was right again, most web sites looked garish (overdone) or had no graphics at all at that time. I learned raw html this way and I still encourage students to do this.

I studied web sites and found bits from here and there. My family bought me books and tutorials for every occasion and I eagerly read them. I became a professional waiter; while I waited in the car for my husband to do errands I read a book, as I waited in line for a service I read another book, while I ate out I read some more, you get the picture.

I started building my portfolio web site using work I had already created. I put it on a dark gray background to make the brilliant colored art pop. I broke the site up into areas of interest:  Web Design, Print/Graphic Design, Sculpture, Animation, Resume, and Contact Me.

My site was only live for a couple of weeks when I got a call from a friend of my husband back in Nashville, Tennessee. They’d been talking and my husband mentioned that I was building a web site and encouraged him to take a look. The friend said the company his wife worked for, Rogers Group, Inc., was looking for a web designer. It was a match made in heaven and the beginning of my new journey.

My online portfolio was reviewed and I received a call/phone interview. I was invited to come to Nashville to meet the project leader and department heads. They hired me on as a contractor to design their new 500 page ecommerce web site.

They saw no problem with my living in Florida, since I could ftp the work to their servers from anywhere. Wow, could things get any better? I sat in my pajamas at my computer and worked around the clock on the web site. I soon realized that I needed a lot of photos of people working, talking, and interacting for the site. Their motto is: Together We Create Opportunities for People to Succeed and I needed images to support this motto and to make the site relevant. I also needed to get out there and learn the industry/culture.

I was able to fly roundtrip to Nashville for $100 and spend a few days each time visiting each of their many locations and interviewing employees.  I took photos at each location of employees and buildings to use on the web site. I then created montages of each location to use on each location’s community page. While I was there I interviewed people and wrote articles to use on the site. It wasn’t long before they asked me to take over the intranet and the twenty page news letter. My husband and I wanted to get back to Nashville and this was as good a time as any, so we moved back.

Each week brought a new project, but they were interrelated, so it wasn’t difficult to take it on. We took pride in the fact that we could update the internet and intranet instantly. All browsers in the company were set to the Rogers Group intranet site for the most up-to-the-minute information.  Employees enjoyed seeing their photos on the front page of all of our media, even if it was only for the day.

Many of the locations sent in their own stories and photos. Everything was archived to allow employees the opportunity to revisit their moment of success. Together We Did Create Opportunities for People to Succeed.

Things change, and web sites do too. You can see samples of the original design at:


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