I have been running this personal website in various forms since late 1997. Along the way I have used a few different domains and as you will see the style has changed quite a bit too. Just for fun, lets take a trip down memory lane and look at the past versions of this website. We'll start from my very first attempt at web design and then move forward in time until we get to the version you see today...
Version 1 "Music for your eyes" (Late 1997 to January 1998)
My first website was called 'Music for your eyes' and it was very basic indeed. Unfortunately I lost all traces of that with a hard drive crash. At least it taught me to always backup my work, you can never be too careful!
Version 2 "Space" (January 1998 to October 1998)
This was a very simple design based around the solar system. Each section was on a different planet which was a nice idea but it didn't work out neatly. The number of planets did not match the sections I needed! I was to learn a valuable lesson from this; never force something into a rigid structure, instead it's best to let the content dictate the structure itself. A good website should be constantly changing and growing and that means the structure must change too.
Version 3 "HyperOgga" (October 1998 to December 1998)
This was definitely my worst design ever, needless to say, it didn't last long before I changed it. Looking back at this now makes me realise just how far I've come over the years. I really knew nothing about the web back then - well actually not many people did!
Version 4 "Panels" (December 1998 to April 1999)
This was my first attempt at coding tables in HTML and it was such a mess. It looked OK in Internet Explorer but things were all over the place in other browsers. Still I was proud of the result even though it was a headache to produce. Tables were the 'in' thing back then - it's shameful to think of the mess we were creating but CSS was hardly known and certainly not supported in the common browsers of the day.
Version 5 "Ogga Vision" (April 1999 to October 2001)
This site was a bit of a monster, as it grew it became a mish-mash of different styles and ideas making it difficult to navigate. In addition to that, there were a lot of flash elements and frames making it a complete nightmare for accessibility. Nowadays I refuse to work on any website that uses frames; they are bad news for many reasons. But while there were a lot of problems with this old version I did like the design of many sections. The homepage was an old TV set and you navigated around by clicking the channels.
Version 6 "Winged Skeleton" (October 2001 to August 2002)
This was a very basic flat HTML website with a simple design. I wanted my front page to have a large image covering almost the entire screen and I did this with a flash version of my winged skeleton drawing. There was not a lot of art on this site at this stage but this was when I started to get serious about my online gallery.
Version 7 "Blue" (August 2002 to June 2004)
I really loved this design, it was my first website written in ASP and it used SQL 7 as the backend database. There were loads of new features like artwork searches and emailing art to friends etc. The blue design took me weeks to work out; I wanted it to be just right. I was sad to see this version go but it was generating so much traffic that I had to close it down while I built another website that kept my hosting charges low.
Version 8 "Simple Simple" (June 2004 to May 2006)
Due to rising hosting costs, I made my large artwork 'members only' for this version. I didn't want to restrict access to the public but at the time I just couldn't afford not to. However, while this change did stop a lot of my traffic in the short term, it eventually kept climbing anyway. This was one of my most frequently updated websites, I uploaded my latest art every week or two so there was always something new to see. My main goal with this design was to keep things plain and simple in an attempt to make my art the focus, however I think I may have gone a bit too far as it did look a little boring in parts.
Version 9 "Secret Art Gallery" (May 2006 to September 2007)
This was my first website built to comply with the latest accessibility guidelines as suggested by the W3C. I used strict XHTML and CSS to code everything instead of tables, and it made for much faster browsing times. The graphical buttons across the top of every page themed the site nicely and I improved the navigation to allow for thumbnails to be visible at the same time as a large artwork. As a bonus, visitors no longer needed to login to view content.
Version 10 "Matthew James Taylor" (September 2007 to April 2010)
This design was nice and clean and focused on content! It is my first website written in PHP and MySQL so it marked my move to open source technology. With this website I started building up a large library of articles in my blog to share all the lessons I'd learned along the way.
Version 11 "Watercolour Illustrations" (April 2010 to NOW!)
This is the current version. I painted a little watercolour illustration for every blog post and tried to replicate the feel of a design magazine or an illustrated story book. I've used bigger headlines and increased the whitespace throughout the design. Most of the pictures scale along with the liquid layout so the design easily adjusts to any screen resolution. Definitely my best version yet.