Hello! My Name is Shawal Zahid

I’m a Web Programmer and Graphic Designer with over nine years of Professional Experience in the Information Technology industry. I specialize in creating custom web sites for other businesses, focusing primarily on custom WordPress theme design and development. I also blog on topics relating to web design, small business, freelancing and work-life balance.

how it all started

I was born in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirated in 1995. I have been developing websites since I was 14, and have been designing earlier.

Growing up, both of my parents were employees in Abu Dhabi, and I was often in my room working on the computer. I taught myself to navigate through MS-DOS, which was the Microsoft operating system that was used before Windows became mainstream.

Through public school, I immersed myself in computers. I began to learn web design, and in Grade 8, I designed a website for an institute in HTML. This was my first big project, and it required a lot of organization and persistence.

In high school, I became an expert in Adobe Photoshop, which is the program I now use to create the website designs. I also switched from using FrontPage, to Macromedia Dreamweaver (which has recently been purchased by Adobe). These are industry-standard tools that are used by web design professionals all over the world.

Throughout high school, my lunch hours were spent either designing web sites in the computer lab, or practicing in my class. In 2010, i started my career, after devoting several months of hard work to creating a business plan for my already-existing web design business.

early career

At that point, though, the internet was nothing more than a hobby for me. My career goal at that time was creating designs for print, such as advertisements, corporate identity, brochures, etc.

During summer vacations, I interned at the Razor99 (originally a web designing and developing company). I learned a great deal in the Creative Services / Advertising department here.

As much as I learned in school – and I learned a LOT – it still doesn’t quite prepare you for life in the real working world.

While interning at the Razor99, I also produced graphic and web site designs for a couple other small companies in Abu Dhabi. This helped foster my interest in web design. Of course, all the while, I maintained my own personal web site (you are currently viewing).

how i live

I’m very excited by technological innovation as well as pushing the boundaries of everything I do in order to be the best I can. I’m always setting new goals, professionally and personally, whether that’s adding to my web design skills, learning a new programming language, instilling a new healthy habit, or otherwise increasing my personal effectiveness.

I try to fully integrate my skills with my interests, and my dreams with my everyday actions. And the people I work with get to reap all the benefits.

True Calling

To be truthful, I am actually self-taught in web design. The majority of my college courses concentrated on various aspects of Accounts and Finance (aside from the core curriculum classes like english and science, etc.). I had been teaching myself web site design and development for so long, that I pretty much already knew everything that they taught in the class.

I’ll never forget when i had to develop web sites for real clients in Razor99 (free work done by the interns for the experience of working with a client). When I was showing my site to the client, pointing out the javascript rollovers… the client was quite impressed and asked how I did that! I have to admit, that it felt pretty good to have been able to do something the teacher could not do at the time.

By the time I graduated, I was 100% positive that I wanted to focus on web design.

Of course in the real world you have to take a job that pays the bills, so initially half or more of the work that I did was programming / graphic design work.

today

I officially moved to Peshawar, Pakistan right after passing from high school in 2010, where I took on a full-time job with a graphic and web design company that I had interned at during my last year of school. I worked at the same company for one years, finally moving on in February 2011, so that I could pursue my goal of running my own business full time.

My love of web design is so strong that I do this for more than just a 9-5 job.

That is why I constantly maintain my own personal website. It is also why I freelanced as a web designer in my spare time.

Although lack of time is always an issue, I am constantly reading up on the latest web design and development techniques. One of the reasons that I love web design so much is that it is an ever-evolving medium.

It is an amazing sense of accomplishment every time you learn a new technique – especially if it was a struggle to get to that point.

living the dream

Since taking the “Freelance Plunge” I am now living the dream of being a small business owner / internet entrepreneur. I am absolutely in love with my new life, enjoying both the challenges and rewards that come with it.