Never be afraid to jump in with both feet. Making mistakes is part of the fun as long as you learn from them.
Please give us a brief bio of yourselves.
Shane Tanner, Designer/Illustrator: I have an illustration background, so I try to incorporate as much as I can into what I do if it's needed. In my spare time, I like to garden and ride my vintage Vespa. I'm also starting boxing classes.
Luke Knowles, Designer: Luke is a man of few words and has been a designer at lookandfeel for over a year now.
Charlie O'Shields, Creative Director: I've been in Marketing and Advertising for over 12 years, and a Creative Director for 6 (Interactive for 4 ½ years). I've been at Lookandfeel for over 2 years now.
What do you do for inspiration?
Shane: I surf lots of different sites to see what others are doing. If something strikes me as wicked cool, then I email them and tell them. I also keep sketchbooks... I think I have 8 of them.
Luke: I like to look at design in other mediums. Print, Video, and traditional art seems to inspire me more than web sites.
Charlie: I'm kind of a bookworm…I always have a book I'm currently reading. I prefer reading to television unless it's watching T.V. for "research" - in which case I usually pay closer attention to the commercials.
Please list your favourite sites.
Shane: Three sites I surf daily are:
1. www.linkdup.com - for cool new sites and inspiration. I like saving the sites I like to look at repeatedly.
2. www.vectorpark.com - it's just cool
3. www.yougrowgirl.com - gardening rocks, especially when it's now got a site that is so well put together.
Charlie: I surf a ton of design sites… but daily… well… I have to admit to surfing www.amazon.com.
What software couldn't you live without?
Shane: I do lots of sketches first, on paper, and then bring my thoughts and ideas to Adobe Illustrator. I couldn't do without it.
Luke: Freehand9 and Flash5
Charlie: Flash5 … but as a Creative Director, it's really the people on my team who push Flash to its limits that I couldn't live without!
Who do you rate as being the top design company?
Shane: www.kerb.co.uk, sixty-five
Charlie: Second Story (narrative pieces)
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
The Team: We are most currently working on a micro-site for Jockey - U.S. underwear manufacturer and a new mini site for Lee Pipes called 'Get in Gear' promoting bike safety.
Each of these sites will include 2 cool new games.
For fans of Luke and Phil at www.lookandfeel.com we will soon be launching new animations (hidden throughout the site) for people to find.
Once you find them all you'll gain the key to Luke and Phil's "WOW Factory" - but you'll have to see to find out what that means!
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Shane: I'm sure the Creative Director has like charts or metrix on that. If people notice something I have worked on and say good things, then I'm happy.
Luke: They're entertaining…so people come back.
Charlie: All of our sites experience a jump in traffic after our redesigns, sometimes as much as 300% (www.leedungarees.com)
Who is your target audience?
Shane: Varies by project, but I like projects targeted to kids and "kids at heart". Ideally, anyone with a sense of humor!
Luke: Anyone on the internet…depends on the current project
Charlie: We've designed for everyone from kids to seniors to corporations.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Shane: My first sites were hospital sites. I knew I had to do them to get the HTML coding experience tucked away. I think they have been taken down and replaced.
Charlie: My first was designed for an IT company was not extremely attractive. It has since been redesigned (by someone else) and looks slightly better, but still won't be winning any awards anytime soon.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Charlie: A better pairing of great design and great content is much needed on the web. Many sites that have incredibly wonderful and useful content are not very well designed, while sites with very little content are often quite well-designed. It would be nice to see more sites that offer both.
Shane: I think most designers take themselves too seriously, but that deals with the designer on a personal level.
I think entertainment sites, specifically movies and television show sites, don't work the way you'd think they would or should. Sometimes, they are too artsy or designy and miss the target audience. I go up to a movie site and just want to find out more about the movie and watch a trailer, I don't want artsy, blind navigation systems or massive load times. I don't have to put up with an obstacle course to stand in line to see a movie, I don't expect it from a site.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Shane: No, but I just finished illustrating a book written by Charlie that will be out this summer.
Charlie: Actually, I haven't written a book on design, but I have a children's book coming out this summer.
We've talked about writing a book on web design, but like so many things…haven't found the time!
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Shane: I do animation and graphics so it isn't a chore for me, I like doing it. So, I'd have to go with Planet Twinkie.
There were just so many little easter eggs for that site that were needed to populate the year-round, date and time controls to make it feel as though the site was changing every month.
It took several months and kids really like the joint effort we all put into it.
Charlie: My first personal Flash project was an interactive postcard, which compiled photos taken at FlashForward 2001 in San Francisco. I decided to try an experimental navigation where the user controlled the site by mouse movements only….no clicking required. With hindsight, it's a little odd, but it's still live at: www.lookandfeel.com/sanfran
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Shane: Most definitely.
Luke: I do.
Charlie: Yes, however, versioning is still a problem due to plug-in adoption rates.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Shane: Practice by doing it. If you feel that you can't absorb anything more from it, do something else for a while and come back to it. Eventually, something will click in your brain and you'll be able to learn more. Like anything, it takes practice.
Luke: I've been fortunate to be surrounded by people who know flash better than me. That's been a great help. They can show me what I need to know, saving me a lot of time trying to figure it out.
Charlie: As a Creative Director, my job deals more with management, concepting and copywriting than hands-on design and coding.
I will say, the key with honing your Flash/design skills is in putting in the time and never giving up.
And if projects you are doing for clients are not challenging, come up with personal projects that force you to learn new skills and build on your techniques.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Shane: Labels escape me.
Luke: Yes, I like to use labels in flash.
Charlie: More of a jeans and sweater guy myself…comfort over fashion.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Shane: Do a site where you can put up things that you normally can't do at work. Experiment and have fun, you pay for the URL so it's yours.
Luke: Surround yourself with great people. It'll make you better.
Charlie: Never be afraid to jump in with both feet. Making mistakes is part of the fun as long as you learn from them.