At Daddy Design we are both honored and grateful to be celebrating 20 amazing years of ‘Design Excellence’! Over the years we’ve been at the forefront of some pretty amazing changes to the industry from the notepad days of html coding, to the social media craze, and to the WordPress boom that’s still going strong today. As part of our 20 Year Anniversary we wanted to take the time to reflect back on our humble beginnings so we decided to put together this fun little timeline to help you learn more about our history:
Full Sail – The Beginning:
Founders Ryan Steinhardt and Hunter Ecklund both wanted to pursue their passion for design by attending Full Sail University in Orlando Florida to obtain a degree in Digital Media of Computer Science. With Ryan being slightly older than Hunter, Ryan attended Full Sail earlier than Hunter.
2000 – Ryan’s Time at Full Sail:
During Ryan’s time at Full Sail he purchased the domain daddydesign.com to host his college portfolio as well as his soon to become widely popular Barney Shakur video since there was no YouTube at the time. This Barney Shakur video, which featured Barney the Dinosaur rapping to 2Pac’s popular ‘Hit ‘Em Up’ song, was one of the earliest forms of a viral video. It became very popular very fast and was picked up by many popular websites at the time including the famous eBaum’s World. This was great for Ryan because at the time hosting companies were charging per download and he could only afford to host the video 5 days a month due to popularity. This video is still very well known today and there has even been a recent surge in new similar videos.
2001 – Hunter’s Time at Full Sail:
During Hunter’s time at Full Sail he hated standard HTML and was really interested in the new Flash websites he had been seeing around the web. Since Flash was new, there were no courses being taught so he bought a book and self taught himself how to design and code in what was then Macromedia Flash. While everyone else in class presented their final website projects in standard HTML, Hunter presented a fully interactive Flash website and ended up winning the Web Design Award upon graduation. He was also part of a project team that recreated a scene from the movie ‘Pi’, this recreation drew large praise from the course director and was being shown to following classes as well as film students as one of the best examples to come out of the program.
2002 – Hunter & Ryan Meet:
While they both didn’t graduate at the same time they ended up meeting through a mutual friend that hosted a weekly poker night and quickly became good friends from that night on.
2003 – Getting Started:
Staying in touch over the next few years, Hunter and Ryan both enjoyed successful careers as Art Directors for separate companies. However, they both wanted more and to be their own boss so they both decided to try to convince their current employers to agree to become retainer clients instead of employers. Since Ryan already had the Daddy Design domain that was still receiving high amounts of traffic every day, thanks to the popularity of the Barney Shakur video, it was an easy choice to just roll with the company name of Daddy Design. The 2 retainers were the perfect starting seed to help Daddy Design get off its feet.
2004 – Business is Good:
Through word of mouth and a high organic Google ranking Daddy Design was enjoying success during the first year in business but it wasn’t until what happened next with the emergence of Social Media that really catapulted Daddy Design into another level.
The MySpace years are really what changed everything, it was during this time that we saw tremendous growth and recognition. This boom was unlike anything that had ever happened before and we were right there at the forefront. It all started one day when Hunter started messing around with the code on his page developing a pretty basic way of manipulating the core MySpace code by overriding it with his own CSS and HTML. Once a few of our friends with businesses caught wind of the custom coding they started asking for us to enhance their pages and our MySpace business subset was created. As MySpace’s popularity grew so did its credibility with large companies which started to recognize it as a major marketing avenue and developing large budgets for campaigns. There were basically 2 main companies to choose from in the professional marketplace for MySpace design with one of them being Daddy Design. This small marketplace led to us landing many large companies and working on some high profile projects such as NBA on TNT, MLB on TBS, VEVO, Tech N9ne, Universal Music, and many more. Without spending any money on marketing we benefited from being at the top of the Google search for MySpace design until it eventually died out and was replaced by the next stage of the social media boom… Facebook.
As we all know MySpace was short-lived and Facebook began to take over as the main social media hub. Facebook saw how popular MySpace customization was and added custom tabs where you could create special landing pages. Since these tabs were basically mini landing pages, a lot of companies began shifting their budgets from MySpace to Facebook. Since we were very heavily involved with MySpace we paid close attention to the shift in power between MySpace and Facebook and had already begun to shift a lot of our focus over to Facebook. This allowed us to carry over our dominance in social media design from MySpace to Facebook and landed new large clients such as Nike, Cisco, Sandisk, IBM, Sennheiser as well as maintain our current impressive client list.
After the social media boom was over we knew we had to put our focus back to the web and by this time there had been another big change with the emergence of blogging platforms. There were a few platforms to choose from and we narrowed it down to two to decide between; WordPress and Drupal. Ryan was leaning towards Drupal and Hunter saw the great potential in WordPress, the big debate was finally put to rest when a former MySpace client requested a custom WordPress blog.
During the early years of their WordPress journey, the platform was vastly different from its current form. Customization was key, and a myriad of tweaks and hacks were necessary to transform it into a versatile, full-fledged website. The challenges of those early days shaped our expertise, teaching us to navigate the complexities of WordPress with ingenuity and creativity. Through API integrations, advanced filters, user login systems, and bespoke creations like a full fledged custom wine label maker, they continue to shape the WordPress landscape, setting new standards for innovation in the digital realm.
Additionally, we’ve created custom WordPress plugins (Social Toolbar, Report Error, Page Extension) that enhance functionality and streamline user experiences.
Daddy Design Gives Back with Tutorials:
Our commitment to the design and development community runs deep. We are passionate about sharing our knowledge and expertise, which is why we regularly create comprehensive tutorials. From general guidance to in-depth coding solutions, our tutorials cater to a wide range of skill levels. You can explore our extensive library of tutorials by visiting:
Throughout the years the industry has gone through many changes and as you can see from our timeline Daddy Design has stood the test of time. We’d be lying if we said it’s been easy but we pushed through and excelled in every challenge presented to us and we are proud and determined to continue to push forward for many more years to come. Thank you to all of our clients over the years for trusting and believing in us, without you we wouldn’t be celebrating 20 amazing years of design excellence!