We'd love to fully reconstruct ebay.com into a Flash Application website--oh the things we'd be able to do for them.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
[Editor's note: Tony now works at Dual]. CrashShop v2002 started during the deepest chaos of Dot-Com Crash. It was 1-1-01 (Jan-01-2001). That's where part of our name comes from…everything around us in the industry was crashing and collapsing. It was in the fury of that all that we started CrashShop.
As the story goes each of us now at CrashShop were freelancing and contracting around town, pretty much been around since the beginning of it all (circa 1995'ish) and were getting together on a weekly basis for breakfast or coffee and talking shop, comparing clients, talking about new things in the industry etc.
We soon began discussing the possibility of getting a shared studio space where all of us could work out of, share equipment, collaborate, and bounce ideas off of each other. The more we discussed the possibility the more it turned into, "Hey! Let's just go all the way and full-on start a company." So we did.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
There's a project called "The Redesign Project" that we are participating in. There is no book title as of yet. It's something along the lines of a design inspiration book that has lots of different studios participating in.
What do you do for inspiration?
See movies, read Neal Stephenson books (Snowcrash, Cryptinomicon), read Wired, play video games, have big discussions about the meaning of life, read bulletin boards, FWA website, www.K10K.net, www.Linkdup.com.
Please list 3 of your favorite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I think it would definitely be the Flash tools we've been creating in the last few months. (ecommerce module, content management module, live active site statistics module, email broadcasting/referral tracking module).
These tools being nestled in the whole paradigm of moving away from the "page based" websites into a more "application style" website. See http://www.thedualgroup.com/portfolio/crashshop/ and www.marshillchurch.org.
What software couldn't you live without?
FlashMX, Photoshop, Freehand, Illustrator & Acrobat (for PDF proposals), MS Visual Studio .NET, and Windows 2000 Server Family.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
1) Uplink Hosting: A new subsidiary of CrashShop.
We plan to launch January'ish. Uplink is a world-class hosting environment for Flash site designers and developers.
Besides top-tier hosting services Uplink will provide a set of four revolutionary Flash service applications.
-- Content Management: The Flash designer/developer will be able to build fully dynamic Flash sites or applications without having to develop back-end logic and data structures.
-- Ecommerce: Same as above but Flash designer/developer will have a shopping cart running fully in Flash--no jumping out to HTML to complete the transaction--all in Flash.
-- Active Site Monitoring and Statistics: Instead of passively reading log files as products like Urchin Tracking do our Flash Statistics Console will be actively giving your site's statistics on the fly as they are happening with visual graphs and real-time numbers.
-- Email List Management, Broadcasting, and Referral Tracking.
These apps are web service tools spitting out XML feeds that open socket right into the Flash Interface or Flash Client sites or apps.
2) Microsoft-SAP.com website. We did the initial concept, design, and build and are now "taking it to the next level". This is just a good solid brand execution for an HTML website. We have future plans to incorporate a flash based "System Configurator" tool embedded in the site.
3) Recently deployed an interesting site with lots of "Flash Firsts" (site-wide searching, fully functioning back and forward browser buttons, one of the largest content sites ever deployed in Flash). This site is a 9 times smaller file size than the previous HTML equivalent with the same amount of content. The interface is quite different until you get used to it. Check it out at www.marshillchurch.org.
4) Some additional smaller print and website branding projects.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Well the CrashShop site has had a huge effect on traffic. We typically get like 99% of our new business from word-of-mouth but since the launch of our new site we have seen a new influx of potential new customers cold-calling us!! (a nice problem to have).
Who is your target audience?
Two ideal clients would be Ebay.com and Barney's of NY. We'd love to fully reconstruct ebay.com into a Flash Application website--oh the things we'd be able to do for them. With Barneys.com it is a very nice flash site but it has been up for 2 or 3 years and has been implying that you'd be able to shop online; we'd like to help them out with that.
We've also talked often of wanting to do websites for great architecture firms. Rick Joy would be an excellent client to do this for.
What area of web design lacks the most?
HTML. We believe it is at the end of its practical lifespan. Furthermore, we believe there will be a big chasm that will begin to develop in the next couple years between sites that run a vector client/webservices back-end and the HTML/Data backed sites. The majority of people building and running websites on the internet are myopically laser focusing on the HTML best practices thing. That focus is quickly becoming a dead-end.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
This site was built right around the end of 1995 for a January through March art show for Japanese Anime here in Seattle. Michael, here at CrashShop, was the creator of the site. It was pretty kick-ass for 1995, though looking at it now it makes you wonder, "What were you thinking!!!"
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it?
We'd have to say our own site. A lot of the groundwork for most of what we are doing today was laid while we were building this site. There is well over 5,000 lines of actionscript that run the site. I believe it took about 3 or 4 months to create the site from concept to completion.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Yes, but who knows what it will become. We're starting to hear rumors about Microsoft buying Macromedia to flesh out client side of it's .NET future.
Flash will definitely have a pivotal and interesting role in the next few years. I don't know if Flash will be around as we know it today, in say 2010, but Macromedia is definitely laying the groundwork for the future of client-side environment.
How have you learned so many Flash skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
We've used Flash since before it was called Flash (FutureSplash), so it's a matter of time and persistence. The newbie should dive head-first into learning actionscript and always remember XML is your friend.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you labels men?
We are using the timeline less and less. Of course it has its place for motion graphics type movie clips but scripting is where it's at.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Almost every project that comes our way is via word of mouth. Go to lunch with everyone you know and find out what they're up to. Share with them what you are up to. Then you'll have a big sales force of people out there that say things like, "...oh, you should talk to so and so. They're experts in [blah blah blah]".
That's the way to keep the business coming in.
It's been a privilege, Tony, thanks very much.
Thank you. We're delighted to be interviewed.