We are very proud to have been the organizers of the very first Flash event in Mexico (Flash for Mexico), that had over 600 people in attendance.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Miguel Calderon; I was born in Saltillo City, Mexico, and I´m 29 years old.
Before I found the multimedia and web world, I gained valuable experience drawing for Disney Mexico in the branding area. However a coincidence helped me out when I met a company of multimedia developers 6 years ago.
This Company was focused in the CBT´s development and was one of the pioneers in this field in Mexico. I was in charge of the interface design based mainly on pictures with very basic navigation options. I then discovered, that my ideas could go beyond this, with animation, sound, and with reaction capability with the interaction of any user in the world.
My partner, Ulises Valencia and I decided, after some time, to create an Internet development agency focused mainly on high impact sites to gain the customer’s and user’s attention.
Working more than 12 hours per day, and with more that 50 interactive projects, Grupo W opened the gates of sharing visions and ideas with the entire world.
Currently, 8 people form our agency and I’m in charge of the Creative Design Direction. If I have time, I give some classes at the university and talk at some conferences when I’m invited, because I think it is really important to share one’s knowledge.
Movies, hamburgers, lecturing and surfing the Internet are some of my passions and I share these with my wife, Ana Maria.
What do you do for inspiration?
I do mental exercises all the time; it’s like playing with the common and regular things but taking them to the extreme: Watching the street, people, the shape of the clouds in the sky…
Definitely, movies, books, music (any kind) and good conversations are the source of my inspiration, that’s why I try to keep in contact with all this stuff. And of course, the great masters of web design are our inspiration, as they prove to us you can go beyond anything…
Please list 3 of your favourite sites that you surf.
FWA (Is my homepage!) It’s a place to see a new thing everyday!
I could make a list of many great sites we all like, but I’ll make a list of Mexican sites (those that I use to visit because of their quality and information):
Dmimagelabs (no longer online)
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
That question would be impossible to answer a few months ago, because it’s difficult to say what your great achievements are, however we are very proud to have been the organizers of the very first Flash event in Mexico (Flash for Mexico), that had over 600 people in attendance, and to confirm the first web developers community in our country, with great experienced people from all over Hispano-America. This made Mexico appear as one of the world communities in Flash.
What software couldn't you live without?
Fractal Painter is like having a box of colors and a sheet of paper... there is no better way to start a project!! Of course, without Flash, the entire Internet world would be really boring. =)
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Right now we are working on 2 sites and starting to plan the next Flash For Mexico event for next year!
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
We try to generate an experience in the user’s mind to make him come back. I think that is the challenge… we try to reflect our environment (Mexico), to share it with all the many different countries. The comments we receive about our sites are, generally, positive and well, the last site was the Flash For Mexico site, and it went around the entire world in 4 weeks, achieving 60 thousand visits in that time.
It has been a great experience for us, gaining the interest of an audience that does not speak our language.
Who is your target audience?
It depends on each project. I think it is really important to know the target to have success in a effective communication between the user and the site. We like to try with several targets in each project, because it gives us the opportunity to explore more.
What area of web design lacks the most?
We need to achieve the balance in all aspects of design, which is the hardest to realise. Well-designed sites, with utility, content and also, generating an interactive experience with the user. The Internet never stops improving, although some agencies are achieving this “perfect” communication, this is still a young way of this type of communication.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
At the time we liked it, but it is terrible to see how something we though was pretty good, became something really bad. The web is going so fast that it is better not looking back… could make us feel really bad... jajaja.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you
spend on it? Is it still online?
The site we made for the Museo de las Aves de Mexico was a major project that lasted 8 months. We worked a lot on the content and design and took more than 3000 pictures… we learned a lot and we enjoyed it, I think the result was worth it. It is already online, and you can visit it at www.museodelasaves.org.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Definitely! The evolution of it has been as fast as the Internet itself; just a few tools to achieve that kind of growth. It has made many key alliances to get all the world’s communities together, and besides being a standard, has changed the way of communication between the user and the Internet. The virtual world would be very boring without Flash!
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
In my personal experience I have never finished the design career... I believe it is important to have the experience of relationship with teachers and classmates, that retro alimentation are necessary.
However, sometimes this is counterproductive to exactly follow the rules that you learn there, because the greatest design moments have happened when someone decided to take a new road. I think that the real education of the designer is in watching movies, going to lectures, talking to people and in the daily practice of your profession.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Publicity by word of mouth is the best way, because when a client is satisfied with what we have developed for him, he immediately recommends us and generates new clients. Since our agency started, the vision has been to surpass expectations so that each project generates the next one and till now this has been what has happened.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Mmmm, interesting question, hehe… Usually I spend very little in my daily life, we are so austere here in Mexico. Maybe the most expensive thing that I bought last week was a high chair for my 7-month-old daughter.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Well, this is not like school, it is more about passion. Search, make mistakes and learn…Many people copy other’s work to avoid problems with the customer or user, but the satisfaction of achieving something by yourself is really worth the sleepless nights!
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Anything that makes me comfortable is perfect, the weekends when I have to work, I wear shorts and a T-shirt, to keep in mind that, although I´m working it is the weekend! =)
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
If you are looking for easy money, web design is not the option…those who really love this work will find a lot of satisfaction. For it, you need to learn a lot, keep awake and sacrifice some things… But believe me, in the end, this is well worth it.
It's been a privilege, Miguel, thanks very much.
Thank to you FWA, to inspire us so much with your project. It is an honor and a privilege sharing our words with you. Thanks for your support of Flash for Mexico, we will never forget. =).