I, Jay Riether, have been involved with interface design as far back as 1981 writing and designing BASIC programs on an Apple ][ computer. Largely self-taught, I wrote my own bulletin board system in the mid-80's. I embraced the world wide web in 1990 when I designed my first personal website as an extension of a quarterly newsletter I published in print at the time. I've been designing websites ever since.
My big break came as a result of being downsized out of HarperCollins where I wrote and produced software titles for their college textbooks. Hungry for work, I accepted an entry-level position as an HTML-coder for Medscape. My talents were recognized early on, and I rocketed up to Creative Director in less than 3 years.
It was at Medscape that I developed my design philosophy. Design is critical to conveying the message, but design must not stand in the way of the message. Websites should not be over-burdened with technology or graphics. Efficient coding, platform independence, intuitive user interfacing, and a spoonful of eye candy are all important components to a successful website.
Also at Medscape, I was exposed to a variety of web technologies...ASP, JSP, CMSs, etc.. Though we had programmers who did the heavy coding, it was unavoidable that I pick up some of the idiosyncrasies of these technologies and worked along side the programmers when designing and building new site features. To be clear...I'm no programmer, but I code my own xHTML and know my way around server calls.
All good things come to an end. Medscape was caught up in the Internet Bust, and though I survived 4 rounds of lay-offs, I was downsized "graduated" from Medscape...three weeks prior to 9/11.
The job market in NYC at the time was flooded with designers, so I partnered with a print designer to form Dobsonfly Design, LLP. We made a go of it for more than a year, but large contracts weren't to be found, so the partnership dissolved. I've maintained the name, and I currently work on freelance projects as they arise.
I've had great success at starting in entry-level positions and moving up through the ranks. In fact there's no better way to understand an organization. I'm looking for another opportunity to enter the .com or .org world.