Scott Clark’s BuzzMaven Labs is a Web Business Consultancy concentrating on improving performance of websites, online marketing investments, and social media activities.
My clients are mostly in the USA, but I work with folks around the globe. I’ve helped launch many successful businesses and currently am the “retained consultant” for a couple dozen firms, assisting with landing page design, email campaigns, customer relationship management and other important web-based business components.
Entry into Computer Graphics
I guess my first contact with what you’d call “web like” projects was in 1983 when I took an elective course that was designed by my instructor as “Computer Art for Advertising.” The UNIX mini-computer filled part of a room but had a glorious 19″ display and a graphic design program that was beyond anything I’d seen in my DOS-dominated world. Using a programming language called Pascal, I developed several programs – one to choose airline seats and another to manipulate shaded graphics on the page. I couldn’t get enough.
Off To the Silicon Valley
The Computer Science department head stopped me one day during my Senior year and asked if I had an interest in doing computer graphics work after graduation – an easy question to answer. So he introduced me to a friend from Kaiser Electronics – a company doing high-end cockpit systems in the Silicon Valley who came to the university to interview me. Before I knew it I had a letter of recommendation and a job writing code for jet aircraft displays! This was a big step up from my previous job – Sweeping floors and stocking shelves at Wal-Mart!
The Realization that Shaped My Career
When doing a research paper, I discovered Edward Tufte’s work, and before I knew it I was working on GUI systems for everything you can imagine. I was developing software for the Macintosh by 1990 and it was during this time that I began to appreciate the GUI standards movement – and realized that rogue designers were making huge numbers of assumptions based on personal preferences – not rigorous testing. So I started asking to participate in running focus groups whenever possible, an experience that forever changed my attitude about design – including website design.
My favorite non-consulting job of all time was at Software Publishing Corporation where I helped develop Harvard Graphics in their Information Presentation division. When I finally met Mr Tufte briefly at Stanford, I was hooked on developing human interface – and when the web came along, I was one of the first.
A Move to the Web
I can’t remember the first time I used Mosaic (the original web browser) but it was approximately 1993 running on an HP Minicomputer. I was using a tool called Gopher and Usenet occasionally – mostly to get computer code I needed for my work. I had been using BBS systems (text-based “bulletin boards”) since 1980 or so, so I didn’t recognize the web browser as a big deal. Wow, was it ever.
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