Profile of Dave Smyth: Energise Web Design, Whangarei

Me with my Wife, Jade and Daughter, Saige. No beard any more – far too itchy!

I’m Dave Smyth, the sole director of Energise Web Design in Whangarei. I’ve been building websites professionally since 1999. Originally, I was one of three partners who formed a company called Epoch Web Design. At that time, there were no professional web designers in Whangarei. There were people who built the odd website, but no one who was actually a professional web designer.

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My first website development was for a business I was already owned called Marlin Financial Solutions. I was a financial advisor specialising in personal insurance broking and retirement planning. I did find someone who tried to build a website for me but it was so bad, I ended up doing it myself. I had studied computer science at university in England and while the programming wasn’t too difficult, the graphics took some time to get right. My first web site design was an arduous task that took over 40 hours to complete, with the end result being just a few basic pages.

In 1999, there was very little demand for business websites in Whangarei. The Internet was still a relatively new thing, having only arrived in New Zealand via Waikato University in 1989. Even though I was a relatively early user on the web compared to the rest of the general public, I only got access to it in 1997 and had to suffer extremely slow connection speeds, small screens, low resolution and a “web-safe” colour palette of only 256 colours. It was great fun but only if you were prepared to wait a few minutes for a web page to load! Back then, the most popular web browser was not Internet Explorer, but something called Netscape.

By 2002, I had shifted almost entirely into web design full time as I got more and more busy. By this point, had gone out on my own and formed Energise Web Design Ltd. Eventually, I would sell off my brokerage business as web design had entirely taken over.

In the early days of web design, we didn’t worry too much about SEO or where a website ranked. It was easy. All you had to do was stuff more keywords on your page than the other guy. I would ask a client what they wanted to be found for and then jam lots of those words on the page. A neat trick back then was to put in a ton of text the same colour as the background of the page. Search engines would read it but the viewer wouldn’t be distracted by all this extra waffle. This was when Google was still a fledgling business not many had heard of, and Yahoo! was the big player. Other popular search engines of the time were; Alta Vista, Webcrawler, Excite, Alltheweb, Hotbot, Lycos and Ask. Most people would never have heard of them now. They were almost all bought out by bigger players after their moment in the sun. Only Ask still survives at the time of writing.

Everything moved so quickly over the next 10 years that I’ve hardly had time to catch my breath. Google stormed to dominance, leaving Yahoo in it’s dust and of course Google and the other search engines wised up to the “invisible” text and various other tricks. Now, SEO is an ever-changing field of expertise as Google try to keep everyone honest and we look for new ways to gain that prestigeous #1 ranking.  Google AdWords, which Google launched way back in 2000 is now becoming more and more important as ranking highly for the really competitive searches gets more difficult. Google itself is encouraging this as they displace natural listings with paid listings, local search results and other types of universal search results from sources such as YouTube (which Google own) or one of their many, many other subsidiary companies.

I continue to enjoy offering web design, website hosting, search engine optimisation and internet marketing services to my clients in Whangarei, throughout New Zealand and also overseas. Now I have a graphic designer, programmer and web designer working for me so I can focus on client service, SEO and Internet marketing. If you need a website or need help to rank or market a website, contact me for a no-obligation chat!

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