Not too many designers realize that the experience doesn't have to always start and end on a Web site.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I am currently working as a Creative Director on the Nike account for R/GA in New York City.
Prior to my role on Nike, I've worked on projects for Verizon Wireless and Reuters.
My current research and projects focus on creating multichannel interactive experiences across the Web, wireless, and physical space.
My educational background is from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and Carnegie Mellon University.
I was born and raised in the Boogie Down Bronx, New York City. You can learn more about my interests at my sneakers and interactive media blog, Flytip.com.
What do you do for inspiration?
Living in New York City is great for inspiration. On any given day, I can walk around the city and see or experience something that is completely inspirational. It's non-stop energy in NYC.
Also, working at R/GA is great for inspiration. There are so many talented and interesting people walking through the hallways of the R/GA offices. We've assembled some of the brightest and most talented people in the world to work here.
Reading blogs is also great for inspiration because the best blogs are maintained by folks who have an undying passion for a certain subject matter. For instance, two of my friends maintain blogs that I read almost everyday.
The first site is http://josephcartman.com, which is a great site about visual, interactive, and motion design. The second site is http://www.freshnessmag.com, which is a great site about sneaker culture.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
I'll stay away from listing any design-type sites and stick to what’s been swimming through my head lately:
http://www.emilychang.com/go/ehub/ - Emily Chang’s eHub site is a great place to find out about the latest in social software, blogging, location mapping, open source, and design and digital media sharing.
http://www.tioti.com - Tioti, which is short for Tape It Off The Internet, is a global TV guide for Torrent tracking with a cool social networking aspect to it.
http://www.youtube.com - A great user-generated video site. The site allows users to broadcast their home videos to the world.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I would say the most recent NIKEiD.com site redesign and the accompanying NIKE iD Times Square digital signage project.
Both the site and the signage projects were wildly successful. There was a ton of media coverage around both projects and we also won a number of industry awards for them.
For me, it was the first time where I worked on a multi-channel project of that magnitude that was successful on all levels.
For the signage project, the essence of this idea had been floating around R/GA for a few years. We always wanted to bring static print ads and billboards to life, leverage the mobile phone as a controlling device, and deliver content to users from a print ad or billboard.
To see it all come together and realized on such a grand scale was enormously gratifying.
What software couldn't you live without?
Adobe InDesign CS. This is the software that I use when I’m ready to spill my brains out on to paper.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I really can’t tell you about what’s happening with my R/GA work, except that when we’re done with those projects, we’re going to turn a lot of heads. Check back with me during the summer of 2006.
On a personal level, I’m planning to design and build a Google Maps mashup around parking in New York City, i.e., where to find parking lots and what the parking regulations are throughout the City. I’m hoping to use my downtime over the holidays to squeeze this one out.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Apple is a great design company. They completely understand the overall user experience on every level, from packaging, product design, interface design, retail, etc.
However, their online experience is unexpectedly lacking compared to the rest of their consumer touch points.
IDEO does great cross-media work and has a great approach towards innovation and design.
Hi-RES has always been one of my favorite agencies.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
We typically get more traffic with new site launches. However, traffic always tends to spike when there is other media pushing traffic to the sites -- banner ads, print, TV.
In other cases, getting picked up on a popular blog site or message board spikes traffic as well. Do not underestimate the marketing power of the ‘long-tail.’
Who is your target audience?
Right now, I’m definitely targeting more of a teen to young adult audience (14-24 year olds).
That age group is just so technologically savvy. It's phenomenal what they’re doing with social networks like MySpace and what they’re doing with user-generated video sites like Youtube.
They’re all becoming content creators, so as designers we’ll need to put together concepts that speak to their needs to create.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I would definitely say integration with other media channels. There are a lot of great experiences happening on the Web. However, not too many designers realize that the experience doesn’t have to always start and end on a Web site.
One of the best examples of a multichannel experience is the CyWorld service in South Korea. These guys did an awesome, awesome job of integrating their social network environment with consumers’ mobile phones and retail store experiences.
The target audience that I work with is fragmenting so fast in the 'digital' landscape that you can't just concept an idea that just speaks to them solely via a Web site.
These consumers are spending a huge majority of their ‘digital’ time in social networks, P2P networks, message boards, playing with their iPods and PSPs, and IMing. Web designers rarely think of extending their concepts into these spaces.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Wow. The first site that I worked on was for schwab.com during the dot-com glory days. The site is still up, but I can't imagine anything that I worked on still being live.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Nope, but I would love to write a book about designing experiences for mobile phones.
That space will only become more and more interesting with the introduction of faster 3G cellular networks and the Flash Lite player being embedded into mobile phones.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
I myself haven't programmed in Flash in over 3 years. Right now, I mainly focus on concepting and interaction design.
However, I need to understand it well enough to collaborate with the world-class Flash designers and programmers here at R/GSome of the best Flash work that we’ve done recently include the Lebron James Chamber of Fear, The Family for Nikebasketball.com and NIKEiD.com.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Absolutely, Flash is here to stay, especially with the recent announcement that Adobe is set to acquire Macromedia.
The Flash 7 player is almost present on every machine out there, so users are accustomed to having the plug-in in place.
There’s been some recent discussion around AJAX becoming a competitor to Flash because it provides some of the fun interaction design elements that Flash provides like overlays, drop downs, rollovers, panning, and zooming, but AJAX could never touch Flash when it comes to video handling and animation.
Also, for the Flash opponents that think Flash is just a technology to showcase glossy Web design, think again. Flash is increasingly being used to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).
The work that R/GA has done on NIKEiD.com and the NIKErunning.com training log are good examples.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Yes. You can do anything if you have the passion and work ethic for it. However, it helps to have talent.
School is great for introducing students to the process of design, but if you don’t love design, then you’ll never stay up to date with ‘what’s next.’
As designers, we always are searching for ‘what’s next.’ Without the love for design, then work becomes a chore.
School is also great for connecting people. Your classmates will eventually become your future co-workers, your future bosses, and possibly your future clients.
I currently work with a group of talented designers that graduated from ITP. The Parsons MFADT program is also strong.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Dunderdon P3 Gaber Pants, $99 USD
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Relax more and try not to place too much seriousness around work.
Designers really need to have a free mind to concept killer work. It's a philosophy that I have a hard time with, but I’m trying my best.
Also, travel more to displace yourself from your normal day-to-day routine. Spend time with the people you love, because in the end, they are what matters most.
It’s been a privilege, Richard, thanks very much!
Word. The privilege was all mine.