Episode 2: The Early Days of Digital Design


The Early Days of Digital Design

In this episode Lightning Jar founder Alan Ruthazer takes a walk down memory lane. We hear the story of how Alan got started in digital design. We also discuss what has changed and what has stayed the same in his over 17+ years leading the company.


This episode addresses the questions:

  • What makes a successful digital agency?
  • How has digital design evolved in the past 20 years?
  • How have changes in computer and mobile device technology affected the evolution of digital design?

If you're interested in learning more about Lightning Jar or ask Alan a question about the early days of digital design and digital agency life get in touch.

No matter how the technology changes over the years or the software that we use, it’s design that is the fundamental... creating something that’s meaningful and has design at its heart is what we do.
— Alan Ruthazer


Episode Info

Title: The Early Days of Digital Design
Date: 5/31/2018
Length: 00:32:57
Host: Kevin Peckham

Episode Guest: Alan Ruthazer

Alan Ruthazer was the featured guest for episode 2 "The Early Days of Digital Design".  Alan is the founder of Lightning Jar and a pioneer in digital design, and digital agencies.

Connect with Alan: alan@lightningjar.com

Episode Notes

0:46 - The origins of the name SiiTE Interactive
1:50 - Designing corporate presentations and CDROMs
2:05 - Macromedia Director & Visual Basic
2:58 - Introduction of the first iPod to the world
3:21 - The advent of MP3s
5:19 - GenX and the conditions that led to the digital creative industry
6:18 - Early home computers
6:55 - Prodigy and early dial-up internet
7:18 - Booting up a computer from floppy disks with MS-Dos
8:18 - Delivering laptop presentations from a motorcycle
9:09 - What led Alan to start SiiTE Interactive
10:10 - The early days of email marketing
10:48 - “You’ve Got Mail” and the introduction of email to a broad audience
11:11 - Working with Oprah
12:14 - Other early digital agencies
12:29 - March 1st and early failed agencies
13:10 - The Dot Com bubble
14:36 - The advent of Google
15:40 - The Y2K Computer Problem
17:01 - What was the category name for “digital agency” in the early days?
17:49 - The advent of Flash and the Flash era
19:32 - The end of Flash
20:16 - The advent of the iPhone
21:02 - The origin of the term “Above the fold”
21:34 - The advent of Responsive Design
22:31 - The advent of Retina Resolution
23:22 - The Apple Watch and wearables
24:11 - The financial crisis and the Wayback Machine
24:30 - The first SiiTE website (2001) and a quote from Buckminster Fuller
25:02 - Hypercard, and how it got Alan hooked on interactive technology
25:37 - Digital design as a discipline vs. print graphic design and architecture
26:28 - Alan went to school for architecture
26:56 - SiiTE client list from 2007 and evolution into web design
28:26 - Our philosophy: design and narrative
30:18 - Advice for young digital designers: quality is really important

Links from this Episode

SiiTE.com Splash Page, July 2001 (Courtesy of The Wayback Machine)
SiiTE.com Website 2007 (Courtesy of the Wayback Machine)
CD ROM (Wikipedia)
Macromedia Director
Microsoft Visual Basic
iPod (Video - Steve Jobs first introduces the first iPod)
MS-DOS Microsoft Disk Operating System
"You've Got Mail" (Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan 1998)
Dot-com Bubble
Google circa 1999 (Courtesy of the Wayback Machine)
Adobe Flash
The iPhone (Video - Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone)
Origin of "Above the Fold"
Reponsive Web Design (Book - Ethan Marcotte, 2011)
Retina Resolution
The Apple Watch (Video, Apple Introduces the Apple Watch)
The Financial Crisis / The Great Recession
Buckminster Fuller


Thunderclap is the Lightning Jar podcast. It covers topics at the intersection of design, technology, and marketing.


Apple Podcasts
Google Play

Podcast Services

Lightning Jar produces custom branded podcasts for clients. If you have an idea for a podcast and need help making it a reality get in touch.

Contact Us >