Throwback!

The History of [stanus.net]

I’ve continually bounced between extreme interest in keeping a website to complete boredom of updating one since 1996. Sadly, I don’t have that very first incarnation of the page (original name: Stan The Man’s Homepage). Even sader, I do have pretty much every other version. Click on a thumbnail to view the older version and enjoy the walk down memory lane.
NOTE: Those marked [sim] are just simulations of the index page and do not have full navigation.


Version 01
Stan The Man’s Homepage
1995 or 1996 – 1998
members.aol.com/warlock94

Back in 1995 or 1996, everyone started to get into the “homepage” phenomenon – just getting a piece of online real estate and writing a couple of pages of content seemed so new and fun. Besides this, though, I can’t remember what really prompted me to throw my virutal hat in the digital ring. I recall my Dad making a quick site (something that involved a Pope-A-Matic which was just an image of Pope John Paul II with irreverent “advice”) which possibly inspired me to do something better. What that entailed, however, I don’t remember. I was big into Sam And Max at the time, so I do remember linking to some images of them on the web. I also recall using the emboss effect in photo shop very liberally on my images and buttons.

Unfortunately, I completely killed all of these original fies when I decided to give the site a facelift in 1998. Thus, this original version of [stanus.net] may be lost to history (but with that much emboss, perhaps this is not such a bad thing).


Version 02
Stan THE MAN’s Homepage
1998 – September 1999
members.aol.com/warlock94

These were still the days before continually updated content, so after my initial work into creating Stan The Man’s Homepage (maybe a weekend or so), I really let the site wither. This lesson was learned when – sometime during my junior or senior year of high school – I picked the site back up and redid the layout. All pages were created with the idea that they would slowly be updated, thus continually bringing in repeated readers. Unfortunately, I was under the impression that just a sentence or two each month would accomplish this goal. Needless to say, it didn’t and, once again, the site was slowly forgotten by December of 1998.

When I went off to James Madison University in the summer of 1999, my family decided to delete our America Online accounts. This meant Stan The Man’s Homepage – neglected for six months already – was fully dropped from my hosting space with AOL. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Wayback Machine at Archive.org – an online warehouse that has been auto-saving websites since 1996 – that I was able to recover some of the pages (though not all of the images). Presented here is everything I could piece together, including some recreated images.


View Version 2 >>


Version 03
Stan THE MAN’s Homepage [sim]
September 1999 – January 2000
www.geocities.com/gunsnros3s

Moving to James Madison University, I suddenly found myself with two amazing, new things: a shitload of free time and broadband internet. So it probably comes to no surprise that, once again, I was bit with the website-bug and brought Stan The Man’s Homepage out of retirement. Although I know I didn’t look at the previous design (in fact, all the files had been deleted due to the dropping of my AOL account), I guess I hadn’t gotten it fully out of my system, as the two index pages to both sites were set up exactly the same (with two columns of links to the other sections of the site).

There were a few differences between these sites, however. I had just started a band (Bras) with high school friends Richard Killiam and Bill Bert and I wanted to prominantly display my musical aspirations on the front so I splashed a black Epiphone Les Paul dead center. The visitor counter at the bottom just seemed like the thing to do on websites in the late 90’s.


View Version 3 >>


Version 04
Stan THE MAN’s Homepage [sim]
January 2000 – February 2000
www.geocities.com/gunsnros3s

As much flak as I’ve given Nate Crandell (of the world-renowned Nate’s Noodle) for continually changing his site layout instead of adding actual content, I must admit I, too, did a little of this at first. After three successful months of the new and improved Stan THE MAN’s Homepage, I decided to give the site a facelift. A flashier-looking, real Gibson Les Paul replaced the old guitar, and the introduction of a live webcam – known as the Stancam – took the old Friends spot (the Friends cards were placed under Stuff, I believe). I also added a Guestbook which was the omnipresent fad at the time.

Though many things would not last long from this design, one new idea initiated during this phase has stood the test of the time. Since I was only making small, hardly noticable changes to pages weekly, readers were always confused as to where to look for new content. So, of course, they would lose interest and stop coming (don’t you dare insinuate that it was the inanity of my content that was driving them away!). To direct visitors to the latest changes I added a “newest update” alert underneath the guitar.


View Version 4 >>


Version 05
Stan THE MAN’s Homepage [sim]
February 2000 – September 15, 2000
www.geocities.com/gunsnros3s

After only a month online, I had grown tired of the gay, glittering guitar image. As a replacement I decided to use a picture of the Red Alien guitar I was actually playing, so this quick change was made. Also, the Bras website was finally being designed so the My Band section was converted over to show this update (I was still toying with the three-pronged Atari logo to depict the three members of the band). Any completely new addition to the site resulted in a green notification on the index page as shown below the guitar.

These were the final tweaks made to the layout during my freshman year of college. Due to work (manning the concession stand at the ever-exciting Centreville Multiplex in Centreville, Virginia) and band obligations (re: the Shack), I only continued to update content (very) sparingly throughout the summer.


View Version 5 >>


Version 06
Stan THE MAN’s Homepage [sim]
September 15, 2000 – February 21, 2001
www.geocities.com/gunsnros3s

The summer was ending, I had quit my disgusting movie theatre job and college life was beckoning. Once again, the transformation of my setting from home to school provided both a ton of creativity and the time to get it done. My site was a year old and many of the visitors had started to find my small, weekly updates to be dull. What these readers wanted was more of my stupid stories, creative commentary, and playful publications. What they got was another redesign of the layout!

First off, I wanted to evoke a party atmosphere and felt a cluttered montage of pictures would do this nicely (inspired by SeanBaby.com – a site I discovered and read voraciously during my first year of college). My site was also becoming a storage place for my scanned photos (a popular section I maintain to this day) so I created a separate link to them. I also branched out into strange new worlds such as AIM quotes (I was quite the online social butterfly) and older versions (essentially the predecessor to this page).

Personal web sites were still a very new thing and I was a beginner at best, so it’s no surprise that I ended up making the entire front page one large image with a map tag layerd on top. I can only imagine what hell this was to load on slow connection speeds (this was still 2000, people). The creation of this image must have taken me longer than I remember. I recall beginning the design of this layout sometime in late freshman year, but my notes say it didn’t get published online until early in my sophomore year.

It wasn’t too long before I fell out of love with my design. The everything-at-once atmosphere that first inspired me quickly started looking just like a lot of cluttered garbage. Essential links were small and buried under large photos that were just for decoration. The layout was horrible from a usability standpoint and I started to formulate a bold, new design plan.


View Version 6 >>


Version 07
The Man’s Homepage
February 21, 2001 – November 10, 2003
jamesbond__3.tripod.com

Sleek, classy, and user-friendly, my new design was the polar opposite of its predecessor. This was the first time I seriously sat down and planned out the architecture of my site and it shows as many of the ideas hatched during this version remain as site staples years later. All of my small, random pages were now collected into 7 sections, I began to work on Seinfeld and James Bond media databases, and even the News section could be considered my first stumblings into a blog.

One attribute that (strangely) made the jump into the new layout was the use of one, large image on the main page with an overlaying link map. This was the final time I would use this practice as it was clumsy and would load slowly on bad connections (like the one I had at home). The image on the left (here, Axl Rose in concert) was created to be a rotating banner that would change monthly. Originally, I had visions of seasonal and topical photos gracing my splash page. Instead, Mr. Rose, announcing the return of my site, graced the entrance for the next two and a half years.

Although I did a tremendous amount of upfront work for this version, it – like all those those that came before – quickly slipped out of mind. The last documented change in the News section occurred just a month after this design was launched. Although I’m sure there were more updates after this, there weren’t many and the final uploading of some Spring Break Panama City photos in March of 2002 finally closed the curtains on my pre-[stanus.net] website.

Twenty long months of no new output would bring a chilling atmosphere to the internet. What would possibly be able to fill the void? And, once created, would any replacement site be able to live in any long term form with continual updates? The future looked grim.


View Version 7 >>


Version 08
++ /Stanus HQ/ ++
November 10, 2003 – February 7, 2004
prototype – never online

It had been a full 20 months since I last did any website work. When I started to really feel this emptiness in my soul I knew I would fall back into making a site eventually. However, I also realized that every one of my previous attempts had failed to keep me interested for long. So, without having to commit to anything, I decided to design my very first website prototype.

There were some inspired ideas in this design. I moved all of the continually updating sections onto the front page – the News, the Latest Picture, and a blog-type section (though this was before I even knew what a blog was) – in an attempt to suck readers in. My left menu was streamlined and made my site seem bigger than it was (a change from my previous menu of just showing the main sections). Finally, the four pictures at the top were randomized, so even if there wasn’t any new content to display, the reader felt as if there was something new on the page.

This was also the first appearance of the name Stanus. My roommate, Jeff, had come up with it by putting together my name and the word “anus” (of which he was fond). It came out rhyming with man-fuss and, unfortunately, it stuck. I worked on this prototype for a month or so, but the table-heavy design inhibited content changes and my introduction to the blogging world via Blogger nixed any chance for this layout to get published.


View Version 8 >>


Version 09
[stanus.net] [sim]
February 7, 2004 – August 17, 2004
www.stanus.net

Even though I had been designing a prototype new design for my site, when my friend, Brandon introduced me to Blogger it all went out the window. Using Blogger as my blogging system required me to create a customized display page comprised of their proprietary code. Since it was new to me, I just kept it really simple and slowly added stuff on top. So, the table-heavy prototype design was kicked to the curb and this new, simple layout emerged.

A couple things did make the jump to this new design from the prototype, though. The four, randomized images remained at the top of the page and the categorized menu was just updated a little. Designed, updated, and even blogged in secret for a full month, this was the first time I invested money by purchasing hosting space and the stanus.net domain name. Revolving banners also made their first appearance in this version, though they were vertical and involved an interesting venetian blinds Photoshop effect. Clicking on a banner would take you immediately to the appropriate section of the site (a Dirk banner would go to the NBA Report, me on the guitar would sweep you off to the magical “Aural” section).

The official opening of [stanus.net] was on March 9, 2004 (how appropriate!) and even though this design was super bare bones and very amateurish, it lasted for six months.


View Version 9 >>


Version 10
[stanus.net] [sim]
August 17, 2004 – January 16, 2006
www.stanus.net

After a while, I grew tired of my stripped-down design and desired something a little more professional. Unfortunately, I was still a beginner with the Blogger code, so I first turned to skins that had been made by third parties. Searching and searching, I finally came across a cool-looking Spider-Man 2 skin. Now, I was not a fan of the movie – even though I had seen the first showing of it at midnight – but I saw a lot of potential in this skin (I believe Doc Ock was in the top banner).

I put about 2 days into the original dismantling and customizing the skin so it stopped looking Spidey-like. However, I would continue to add and remove different ideas into the skin. Really, the only change that stayed throughout this design’s run is the revolving banner – changed to be horizontal now. Other temporary additions included a pic of the month, seasonal banners (supposed to be 2 per month, but I think I only did 4 of them), banner selection, a drop down menu, and even an updated ultimate frisbee stats section. This design lasted quite a while and saw the heaviest traffic to date.

Speaking of those ultimate stats, for two months I pretended to be a basketball star with my own stats by keeping track of all the stats I accumulated in a frisbee league I was involved in. And, just jotting this information down on a piece of paper wasn’t going to cut it, so I dedicated the prime real estate atop my website banner to this endeavor.

Even as this thing grew and grew each week, I didn’t feel it ever took away from the stanus.net design. In fact, it was around this point that I was becoming tired with the Spider-Man layout and the well-designed stats table was cool-looking enough. I was almost sad to have to remove it when the season was over (and my team was crowned champions!).


View Version 10 >>
View Version 10 (with ultimate frisbee stats) >>


Version 11
[stanus.net]
January 16, 2006 – July 12, 2007
www.stanus.net

This page proves my interest in website design and programming has existed since the mid 90’s. However, every incarnation of this site was the creation of an amateur hobbyist. This all changed in February of 2005 as I was officially hired as a web programmer at DDC in Alexandria, VA. After almost a year and a half with the old [stanus.net] design I desired a layout change and my new skills – practiced daily at work – had me excited and confident enough to create a new one from the ground up.

The first thing I concocted was the circular logo based on an old Larry Bird t-shirt I found on the NBA Store. I really liked its look, but wasn’t fully sure of where to put the damn thing on the site. Maybe a month later, I was programming a site for work that utilized the sweeping, folder tab-like look and I became inspired. Merging the tried-and-true revolving banner idea of old with the new folder tab-look and circular logo resulted in a bold and unique header. From there, it was really just a nuts and bolts process of deciding how the blog and the sideboard would look.

Apparently, the random banner/logo combination wasn’t enough to satisfy my desire for customization. I also added in a handful of “styles” – which, depending on the date, would change the color scheme of the blog and sidebar. Most of these were pretty color-famous holidays like Christmas and St. Patricks’ Day, but I also threw in an all-red (Blood) and all-blue (Blues), too.


View Version 11 >>
Style: Blood . Blues . Halloween . St. Patrick’s Day . Valentine’s Day . X-Mas


Version 12
[stanus.net] [sim]
July 12, 2007 – September 28, 2007
www.stanus.net

My hosting provider upgraded their PHP at the beginning of July 2007 – completely rendering [stanus.net] unreadable for some reason. I tried to do some fixes to get just the homepage up and running but the level of work seemed a bit above my head and the site was down for about a week. Luckily, I had already been planning to roll out a new site layout for my 300th post ([stanus.net] went down on the 288th) so I just bumped up the scheduling a bit.

I had been using WordPress for my NBA Sim basketball blog and really loved it’s power and ease of use. I knew I wanted the new [stanus.net] in WordPress, too, so I secured a separate domain and hosting space for my NBA Sim blog, ported it over there, and began to install a new WordPress instance on my stanus server. Over the next couple of months I laboriously spent my hours upgrading the look and feel of the site as well as manually inputting all of my old blogs into the new WordPress database. It was hard work, but it was a work of love!

Here is what [stanus.net] looked like in that interim period – before it got a new coat of paint and was just a functioning, bare bones WordPress blog infant.


View Version 12 >>