We have to design for many different clients and audiences – being aware of the wider world is critically important.
I'm the Creative Services Director at Brandwidth, working with a talented team on a wide variety of exciting digital projects. In the past, I've designed for clients big and small and managed the odd Studio here and there. We've recently released America's Presidents for iPad and the epic Led Zeppelin: Sound & Fury iBook. I'm married with three children and I live in the English countryside.
What do you do for inspiration?
I look at lots and lots of things and some of them aren't even digital.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
There's too many to choose from, but if you twisted my arm... you can't really beat a Fi case study.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
So far this year, it's been releasing the America's Presidents iPad app, the result of many hours of hard work, and seeing the great reaction that it's received. Also seeing our app showcased on CNN was fantastic.
How do you relax or unwind?
Getting outdoors with the family for some fresh air or as many video games as I'm allowed.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Maybe running a fancy cheese shop, frittering away all the profit on letterpress business cards and flyers while wearing an apron that matches the shop's branding. It would have an amazing website, obviously.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
Favourite part – finding out what the Studio will come up with next.
Hardest part – rejection.
And If you get stuck, get the pens and paper out again. Or sleep on it.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Seeing the visuals for Wipeout on Playstation by Designers Republic in the 90s blew me away, I thought: I want to do stuff like that.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop. No. Wunderlist. Can I have both? They represent both sides of my brain – the creative and the organisational.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Right now, going through the Studio we have: an iPad app demo, four big website projects, two iBooks plus the day-to-day care of Toyota's UK website.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
When we redesigned Toyota's car configurator we increased page interactions dramatically.
Who is your target audience?
At the moment it's mainly presidential art gallery visitors, heavy rock fans and car buyers. It can change on an hourly basis.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Don't know yet, it's my first time. Will let you know how it goes from here...
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Establishing the right tone of voice for America's Presidents was critical. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC is visited by people from many different age ranges and backgrounds so we had to consider carefully how to treat the app's visual style as to not alienate our audience.
In the end, we went for an almost retro look that worked across historical eras and was also in keeping with the office of the President of the United States.
Treating the subject matter with respect was at the heart of the design process, although with the addition of other features such as the Games Room and Facebook voting we ensured that we also kept things entertaining for users.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
I think it was some kind of hideous intranet site which, happily, is no longer with us.
Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
We have to design for many different clients and audiences – being aware of the wider world is critically important. I like to draw on plenty of outside influences, which helps me to create touch points for the audience so they feel comfortable with the work we are producing. Outside of work, I'm a big history fan, so I was able to channel some of that into the America's Presidents app. Try to take an interest in lots of things – you never know when it'll come in handy.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
There are so many places to get noticed out there right now, get creating, get noticed and get feedback. When I'm hiring I always look for talent and a real enthusiasm for all things digital not necessarily how well they did in their exams.
You also can't teach someone how to react in a meeting when the client has just poured cold water over 2 weeks worth of design work. So, in a nutshell I don't think you need educational experience to get into the game.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Get to know your tools of the trade well and always bring your sketch book to interview.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It's tricky. Especially when we're all checking out the same influences all of the time. Standing out from the crowd takes a lot more effort.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
You can't beat Twitter or snooping around on Dribbble – those guys scare me with their attention to detail.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I loved Simogo Games 'Year Walk' on iPad. They atmosphere and the way you interacted with the story using the companion app were really well thought out. One day I'd like to try my hand at some kind of interactive story telling. Also, if Toca Boca need someone to make the tea - I'm there! Love their apps.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
We're hoping to create more digital projects for The Smithsonian and to follow up on the success of Led Zeppelin: Sound and Fury with more ground breaking iBooks. There's a bunch of other stuff as well but apparently I'll get into trouble if I spill the beans here.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
Getting the most out of iBooks author is an exciting challenge for us.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
They mostly come at night. Mostly.