September 1, 2008 Vol. 22, No. 3 [p. 3]

Our First 10 Years on the Internet

Clare's original e-mail marked the official startup. (LT)

From: Clare Van Lent
To: Lee Terrio
Subject: Congratulations!!
Date: Thursday, August 20, 1998 7:03 PM
You did it. We are up and running. I am amazed at all the detail and connections you have done. It is great!
There is some of the information that is not quite correct but we can handle that as we go along. I just am so pleased and more than slightly amazed. How do you feel about it?

The Dwelling Place website was launched on August 20, 1998. That was an exciting day for all of us as we saw our first [albeit, crude] web page appear on our computers. For both archival and nostalgia purposes, we thought you might enjoy a brief [we promise, a very brief] look at the first ten years of The Dwelling Place's virtual existence. Many thanks, Elaine Fish, for getting us started.

Version 1

Version 1

Version 1- enlarged view
Our first site used a simple brown/red grid on a plain white background. The logo was taken from a newsletter scan and colorized [pixel by pixel] with Windows 95 software. "Next" and "Previous" links were all we had for navigation; a menu was added later.

The homepage listed several affiliate webrings [we continue membership with "A Time to Heal"], and, while it was free, we sported a foreign language translator for non-English speaking visitors.

The on-line newsletter proved to be a challenge. Our very first attempt was a scanned ' p d f ' file that, as we learned later, took forever to display over "slowsky" phone lines- home D S L service didn't exist back then. Clare also wanted color photos for the web.

So, for the first few years, we totally re-typed each newsletter in a web format [that solved the speed problem], and Sheila sent photos by "snail mail" to Hattiesburg for color scanning. Computer upgrades in Brooksville eventually allowed us to complete the entire process by e-mail in a matter of hours rather than days.

Version 2

Version 2

Version 2- enlarged view

The next two versions of the website evolved over several years in an attempt to give the pages an updated look. Version 2 incorporated bold navigation buttons that were popular at the turn of the millineum.

The background was changed to blue per Clare's suggestion. To fill the screen, a redesigned header split the logo into a graphics block at the left and text at the right.

We kept our hit counter in version 2 as well as our pop-up windows for information items such as retreat summaries. A "Suggest us" feature worked well for years, but was eventually scrapped when spammers used a security flaw in the software to flood the web with unauthorized emails. Who knew?

Version 3

Version 3 debuted in roughly 2005 and marked our transition to a style-based layout that improves accessibility and usability for all visitors to the site. Display discrepancies between Windows and Apple computers were eventually resolved- whew! A blog was added in 2006 per recommendations from the advisory board.

Version 3-current

Version 3 in 2008- enlarged view

Version 3

Version 3 original- enlarged view

In 2008, the site includes a larger text header with a more traditional font per Clare's request and a darker blue/green background for improved contrast. The counter and pop-ups are gone, but we kept rounded corners on the main pages- a nice touch that seems to hold up in the today's "Web 2.0" world.

Our goal in 1998 was simply to get on the web. That was easy compared to subsequent attempts at creating a visually distinctive internet presence for The Dwelling Place ministry. Ten years later, maybe we finally got it right. :)

page 1

page 2