DUCTION This report is all about web design and web designers to get a good insight into professional practice and what its like being a web designer. To gain knowledge on what they do in the day to day lives we have asked each designer the same questions. It will be interesting to see the variations of questions as every designer and their preferences are different from one another. the questions that we have asked are the questions that you as a student want to know, all the basic things such as preferences between developer software and what sort of
work they have worked on, to things like what they think makes up a good website and vital tips to becoming a sucessful web designer. We asked these questions to a wide range of different types of web designers some that work purely digitally, others that work also with print design, some that work freelance and some that work within a company. With a wide range of different designers from different backgrounds will make for a very interesting variation in answers and responses to our questions.
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We took the time to fire a few questions at David Burton, Head of Innovation at RedWeb, a web design company located in Bournemouth and London to get a better insight into his work, a little bit about himself and what it’s like to work within a company with a closley knit team of professional designers.
What got you interested in becoming a web designer? I have a fine art degree but wanted to use my creative skills to make a living. Design was an obvious way to go and back then web design was new and exciting. How many years have you been building websites? Eleven years this summer, though it doesn’t feel nearly that long!. WDo you prefer to work alone or on a team and why? I prefer to work as part of a team.You can come up with a lot more ideas working with other people. As a team you can learn from other people.You can work with experts in different areas too, as and when you need them, rather than trying to know about everything you might need. Do you read any online blogs regularly? If so, which ones? I’ve got hundreds of blogs listed in my RSS readers The one’s I read most at the minute are http://www.cstadvertising.com/blog/ http://contrast.ie/blog/ http://ffffound.com/ http://neilperkin.typepad.com/
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What are a few of your favorite development tools and why? I still love Flash, I’ve used it for years and done some very cool stuff with it Other than that, my favourite tool is a pencil and some paper. It’s so important to sketch as many ideas down as possible at the start of a project and invaluable to draw things out to explain them better to others. What is the largest project you have worked on and why? I worked on the football premiership website when it was sponsored by Carling. I’ve worked on the UK passport website the About my vote website which both get huge amounts of visitors. My favourite was being part of a Flash based Maths Learning software – Abacus Evolve. I made lots of the paired and group activities and it took 3 years. What do you feel makes up a good website? A good website successfully meets the needs of the key audiences and those of the buisness.What is the one tip that you would give to anyone trying to get into the industry? Make your design work the best it can be, and keep trying new things Be passionate about web design – work on you own projects, read industry blogs, have an opinion. Sorry, that’s more than one.
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James Caddy, a web designer from yammayap web design company, located in Bournemouth and Poole was happy to answer our questions to give us an insight into his life in web design and let us know about some of his most read blogs, favourite development tools and best tips to get into the industry.
What got you interested in becoming a web designer?. I was never really interested in becoming a web designer. In fact, I used to despise the internet whilst I was at art college(1995-2000), I found it crude and overly ‘techy’. However at the time of moving on from education into employment I had a very good opportunity to work with a leading web design agency so I took it as a challenge to bring some of the values I appreciated from Print design to the screen. How many years have you been building websites? I have been in the industry for 11 years (not including education) but I focus on the design and architecture side of a website rather than build. I work with two very talented developers who ‘build’ our sites. Do you prefer to work alone or on a team? I prefer working in a team as everyone can have their specialism rather than being a jack off all trades, master of none. At Yammayap we have a very distinct split between design and development, both parties constantly challenging each other to design and build in different ways to meet the needs of any given project.
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What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? I read a large range, from design focused blogs, to more technical ones so that I have a good broad knowledge-base. http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/ http://www.logodesignlove.com/ http://sixrevisions.com/ http://www.smashingmagazine.com/ http://idnproshop.com/ What are a few of your favorite development tools and why? Hard one to answer for me as Im not a developer. The Web inspector is surprisingly useful in Safari and I know our developers use and rave about ‘Coda’ for OSX. What is the largest project you have worked on and why? Our biggest client is Woods’ Silver Fleet (www.silverlfeet.co.uk) who are based in London and charter luxury super yachts on the Thames for private parties and events. Not only is their site the largest in terms of number of pages, bespoke designs and content management, but we have a very good working relationship with them which has seen us add features nd functionality to the site time and time again over the 5 year relationship.
What do you feel makes up a good website? Good and appropriate design language that helps signpost information. Anticipating the users needs, but not forcing something at them that is irrelevant. Touches of flair rather than an over gimmicky site (eg over use of flash and animation). What is the one tip that you would give to anyone trying to get into the industry? Have a passion and let that passion guide you. If you have an interest in it let that push you the extra mile, dont just do what is asked of you, offer bigger better solutions no matter how big or small. First impressions do count. The sheer number of useless job enquiries we get is frightening. Put some effort into your initial contact with a company, write a good letter, include your CV and examples of work... show that you have considered the company you are approaching rather than just shotgunned 100s of businesses.site (eg over use of flash and animation). http://www.kineticsolutions.co.uk/ http://www.modrus.com/
Ricky Gane, a web designer working for Aylesworth Fleming, a company located in Bournemouth gave us some insightful information on what makes a good website and an interesting story about how he started off in the web design indiustry.
What got you interested in becoming a web designer? I started designing websites about 6 years ago when I bought a 1958 splitscreen camper from a guy in Throop. I bought the van as a complete wreck and needed storage for it so he agreed that I could keep it in his yard and work on it for a year. That year went by quickly with me carrying out a fair amount of work on the van but having a mountain of work still to do. I had a look at his website which was a single page document created in some basic website creation package and negotiated another years storage for updating his site. Many years and many site updates later and he is my oldest client and a good friend. I didn’t manage to finish the van and sold it on to another optimistic person looking for a project, I didn’t hear back from him if he ever finished it! How many years have you been building websites? About 6 years on and off. As it has all been in my spare time then progress has been a little slower than I would have liked.
FOR AYLESWORTH FLEMING Do you prefer to work alone or on a team and why? For the past 5 years I have been working on my own but as I am primarily a designer with limited coding skills this has always narrowed the market I could pitch for. Last year I formed a partnership with a friend who has very good coding abilities so we make a good team and manage to get a lot work done. It is always good to have another persons input on your project and with skype you can share screens and talk from home like you are in the same studio. It does make it difficult to seperate home from work life sometimes though! What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? If so, which ones? As a designer I think it is very important to keep up with current design trends and inspiration. I have a massive list of reference sites but these are the ones I check most often: Abduzeedo, toxel, notcot for inspiration and psd tuts and vector tuts for tutorials. What are a few of your favorite development tools and why? As my coding knowledge is limited I don’t have many coding tools but I do use firebug as an add on for firefox and find it very useful. I am working on mainly wordpress sites lately and firebug is handy for figuring out how other people construct their themes.
What is the largest project you have worked on and why? I don’t really work on many large sites as I don’t have the time needed to dedicate to them but I am currently redesigning an existing HTML site to work with wordpress so that is a fairly large project to work on. What do you feel makes up a good website? I think that a good website has to primarily be easy and clear to use and look good second. In my experience the most amazing looking sites get annoying very quickly if they do not work as they should or are a nightmare to navigate. What is the one tip that you would give to anyone trying to get into the industry? Research the job you want to work in, learn the skills needed for the job and make sure it is something you enjoy. I got my break in the industry by getting a weeks work experience unpaid and making a good impression by being enthusiastic and hard working. I got a part-time job offer at the end and worked up from there. http://www.thead.biz/
Adrian Notter, Managing Director of the company, Design Image Limited based in Waterlooville in Hampshire gave us a good view on what his company uses in their day to day work and what the best ways are to go about building a website and effectively using your skills to be a successful designer.
What got you interested in becoming a web designer? Design in general... I have a background in sales and marketing and know what great design will do for a business... and websites are now an essential marketing tool for any company. How many years have you been building websites? I’ve been in the company for 6 years now, feels like it has flown by! Do you prefer to work alone or on a team and why? Team... a team always makes a difference with input from other marketing and creative people... no one person has all of the answers... you can also waste a great deal of time if you have simply missed the brief. What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? If so, which ones? I don’t have any particular sites of blogs I visit regularly to be totally honest however I will occasionally look at blogs like: http://designbit.co.uk/ http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/ http://www.impressivewebs.com/
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What are a few of your favorite development tools and why? We use the Adobe creative suite and all the coding is undertaken by hand, even developing databases... but we do use java, php, flash and other design tools.What is the largest project you have worked on? Some of the biggest projects we have worked on are Brand identity briefs such as Akorn Construction, Ruth Badger Academy and also Bubble. What do you feel makes up a good website? One that draws you in, the user can find what they want very quickly and understand the navigation... visually appealing that keeps a user wanting to look further. Bottom line is that it does the job it is designed to do... like all design, doing it for the sake of it because it looks good may actually make the site a pile of crap. What is the one tip that you would give to anyone trying to get into the industry? Gain experience... any experience even work for free to build your knowledge and portfolio... be prepared to learn, and don’t be a pre-Madonna... unfortunately just because you have a degree will not make you a good web designer and will certainly make not difference to us for potential jobs...
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