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Introduction
I need to replace this photo... This website started as an out of curiosity Photoshop practice, but in 4 years got totally out of control.

Some h
istory
Back in 1997 I started to experiment with Photoshop (v4 if I remember well) to try and design some cool graphics for a website about flightsimulators. At that time a new simulator was about to be released, called TFX, standing for Tactical Fighter Experiment, from Digital Image Design. This simulator featured the F-22 among some other planes and once I flew it, I was lost, spending many hours flying around and shooting at everything I came accross.

This had to be told to the world asap. Photoshop and Frontpage became my best friends.

Work on the flightsim site resumed and release 1 of the site gradually grew. I spent hours and hours on the internet looking for the - at that
time - sparsely available information about the F-22 and the technology which makes it such a special plane.

Many companies were contacted by email for background information, which I hardly got because of the confidential nature of the material.

Another activity was to add the site to virually any search engine
  :: Version 1 of the site
I could find and the amount of visitors grew bit by bit, although the site was hosted by Compuserve on one of such impossible compuserve url's like ourworld.compusere.com/homepages/blablabla...

Growth
Somewhere in 1998 the domainname changed to www.f-22raptor.com (thanks mike!) and from then on my visitor numbers started to increase rapidly. Domainnames really can make a big difference.

In the meantime my Photoshop skills had evolved as well as the knowledge on how to use JavaScrips and the site got it's first facelift.

Although it was not a very spectaculuar one, I got many very nice reactions through email.

Various browser imcompatibilities were resolved and a way to send
  :: Version 2 of the site
feedback as well as a guestbook were implemented. A news section was added to inform visitors about the political debates about continuing the F-22 program, or not and of course the technical developments were closely monitored.

Things are becoming serious
During 2000 I started my own webdesign company, called SiteLab, allowing me to spend even more time on the project :)

We are talking 2001, when I started noticing a relationship between world events and the amount of visitors I got. During for instance the Kosovo crisis, Saddam screwing up, bombings of US property and the deeply sickening events of 9/11 the amount of visitors the f-22raptor.com was peaking. CNN.com even linked the site for background information on the F-22 program. In other words, F-22raptor.com was becoming a serious F-22 information source for the internet community.

Time for a new release of the site, with the goal of becoming the #1 F-22 site on the internet. This meant clear to underastand language, the largest collection of pictures and video/audio material on the net.

Release 3 of the site was being made during 2002 and put live in january 2003.

Besides an entire new look a lot of background information has been added to the site, like the "Learn more" pop-up boxes which clarify issues, mentioned on each page. Links to related websites have been added as well as ways to inform more people about the site.
  :: Version 3 of the site

I have had a lot of fun until now building the site, which currently serves around 10~12000 visitors every week. Your positive and very nice feedback is really appreciated, so keep it coming.

Cheers,

Wim van Diermen
Webmaster f-22raptor.com

 




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