Ian D Thompson
Visual Developer | Architect | British Art | Read. Learn. Listen. Make
Computers and design are two of my greatest passions. Throughout my life, I’ve used computers to be creative and fulfil my passion.
My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20 given to me by my parents in the early 1980s. I still have it. It came with loads of game modules that I wasn’t that interested in – I was more intrigued by the notion of creating my own instruction sets. One module that did make an impact was a BASIC code module – I took to making my own simple programs that kept me entertained for hours. This was my introduction to coding and the principles of programming.
In my early teens, our school was equipped with a computer room, filled with BBC Micros made by Acorn Computers, We used the computers to make games and applications. Along with a school colleague, we created a simple drawing program in BASIC that rendered coloured lines on screen depending on keyboard input. The program was endlessly fascinating and won a prize in a 1984 national children’s science expo.
In 1988 I started an architecture degree at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. After graduating in 1992 I worked for a design practice in Pretoria that used one of the earliest CAD applications; UltimateCAD for Windows. It had a simple green and black monochrome interface and keyboard commands that are still stuck in muscle memory.
The inner working of PCs and Macs and the development of my basic HTML skills continued to capture my attention throughout the 1990s and 2000s. I mastered early versions of Windows, even managing to alter the code to make it look different. Code at that time was easier to understand and manipulate. I started using Macs in about 1999 and have used them ever since.
In the early 2000s, my HMTL and CSS skills meant I could create basic websites using software available at the time; I used Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, creating websites for friends and the practice I worked for. These were static sites without a database; all content lived entirely within the rendered HTML. During this time I also used Adobe FLASH which, at the time, offered impressive interactive abilities compared to basic HTML.
By 2005 I was dabbling with WordPress, setting up my own WordPress servers to publish early websites. Whilst focusing on my architecture career, my web design skills were still being maintained through much experimentation and learning.
Throughout my architecture career, I have used software that has continued to cement my interest in design and technology. Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, AutoCAD, Vectorworks and SketchUp have become my everyday tools. Often starting out as very basic applications, many of these tools now offer incredibly powerful ways of managing large building projects.
In 2015 I decided to scale back my architecture practice intending instead to focus more on technology. In 2016 I created and developed an online property management application called Avollio, that pushed my technological skills even further. The application focused on my experience in architecture and project management and combined my love of technology, design and organisation.
WordPress still dominates the web publishing industry, growing from a personal blogging platform to a powerful CMS system used by individuals as well as big businesses. It continues to drive innovation and by nature of the industry that has grown up around it, offers a comprehensive platform for developing all sorts of websites.
In 2018, I started using Webflow; a platform that brings together my HTML & CSS skills with a powerful design editor. It promises to be an engaging way for me to continue to create dynamic websites.
I continue to design and develop websites that draw on my years of experience. It’s what I love to do