I entered the world of web design by default. A Journalism & English major with a shrinking interest in current events and a growing disdain for poverty, I sold my creative soul to corporate America for a retirement plan, paid vacation and the occasional barbaric rush of cubicle warfare.
I was a copywriter, a butcher of the English language, grinding prime cut prose into chuck for the masses. Branding, call outs, call to action, proof points, tag lines, I wrote the words behind the smiling faces on brochures for everything from timeshares to proper hand washing techniques. I began to view the world in 150 words or less. Life had become a series of tag lines, marginalized and boxed into bite sized chunks, no knife, no fork, no thinking required.
It was easy, it was mundane, it was boring. I had a no sense that what I was doing was ever correct because like any assembly line, productivity was the objective. Keep it short, keep it simple, make it snappy. I had become skilled in the art of compartmentalizing and organizing what would otherwise appear to be gibberish and one day I was asked to expand those skills to content writing. This was my first foray into the world wide web.
So vast, so unchartered (keep in mind this was 2003), I was in the wilderness with a set of skills I equated to a set of sticks to rub together for survival. Up until this point I used the internet for reference, music and directions. It never occurred to me there were real people writing online. I guess I assumed it was all scanned printed material managed by gnomes.
I had no computer skills outside of Microsoft Office and HTML code was an esoteric language invented by the Aztecs. I started off using text fields (WYSIWYG editors) to upload my content. One day the graphic designer in the office asked me to add some photos and a banner I had written copy for to the header. Seeing my tagline in bold digital splendor sparked a creative volt that had been dormant since my first slice of office birthday cake.
I was interested again, engaged. Here was a medium that combined my new skill in organizing words as calls to actions and quick bits of information within an art form. Organizing blocks of content as shapes rather than simply paragraphs. I learned to utilize HTML and CSS as tools rather than a language. Once I understood how to use these tools to organize the world of web design was illuminated. I was hooked. Here was a way to communicate to the masses with creativity, a way to organize ideas through an ever expanding digital world.
I went back to school for graphic and web design and found that the years I spent copywriting were integral to organizing web content. As time went on email newsletters, blogs, and social media became the new communication. Its hard to know where a job will lead. What skill is important and what is a menial task. But as long as your world remains large and there is an eagerness to explore it, there will always be a new possibilities.