Our whole team gets pumped when we get to build experiences that go beyond the point and click mouse interface and allow people to physically interact with the design.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Gabor Vida, President of Teknision.

I've been in the interactive design and development business for over 10 years. Way back in 1995, when the web was young and growing, I started a web design company here in Ottawa, Canada.

Within 5 years we had over 30 people and a multi-million dollar sales pipeline. I sold the company to our biggest client and went to work for them as the lead interface designer for one of their flagship product lines.

In the mean time, I was an advisor to Teknision, helping them grow their business. In short order I realized the corporate world did not suit me and left to join Teknision full time and never looked back.

  What do you do for inspiration?

Talk to people. There's nothing like getting together with some brilliant people and tossing around ideas. Preferably with some food and drinks. Keep an open mind and you'll always learn something.

  Please list 3 of your favorite sites.

Digg - Big fan of diggnation too.

Leo Burnett Canada - one of those sites that I wish I had created

Del.icio.us - We use it as a shared research library

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

My Son. Nothing can top that. Having a child is one of those things that you can only truly appreciate after you actually do it. It's motivational.

I read once that your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.

  What software couldn't you live without?

Outlook. We have no local clients. Our closest client is a 5 hour drive away. A big portion of our business is done through e-mail.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We recently received an FWA Site of the Day award for our work on UpdateHollywood.

That site is actually just the tip of the iceberg. What we created, for our client NetcableTV, is a broadband video channel creator and Update Hollywood is the first example.

The application has an extensive library of APIs that let designers customize the interface and easily tie in video content with ad servers for both web and desktop deployment.

We're currently talking to some major film production companies and will soon be launching Update Hollywood flavored sites for some popular television shows and one major trade show.

I can't name the trade show, but let's just say it's all about video games.

We've also recently been involved with making interactive environments for museums and shopping centers.

Our whole team gets pumped when we get to build experiences that go beyond the point and click mouse interface and allow people to physically interact with the design.

  Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

Akqa, Firstborn and Big Spaceship.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

It's been a while since we designed an actual web site. We've been focusing on building rich media applications and more non-traditional experiences.

However, I believe that the impact of design on traffic is all about creating a unique user experience.

Traffic will come from people talking about their experience with your design. It's all about the social internet; sites like The FWA and Digg help fuel it.

  Who is your target audience?

Anyone who wants to provide an experience.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Writing. Sometimes I swear designers don't read. Copy is often just seen as a graphical element. Proof of this can be found in the tiny font trend.

A site that is a marriage of copy and design tells a story and creates an experience. Without the writing, it's just some pretty pictures.

  What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

I can't really remember my first site, but I'm sure it was a monstrosity.

Of course I suffer from the same vision problems most designers do; I love a design when I create it, but if I go back to it after a couple of months, I can point out a hundred flaws.

  Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I have not written any books, but I would love to.

We are currently doing a lot of experimentation into innovative ways to measure the whole user experience, both from the end user perspective and from the application owner perspective.

Tying in these ideas with current trends in folksonomy and a more communal approach to information might make for a good book.

  What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

Our last two major projects were extremely complicated.

We created a mergers and acquisitions analysis application for SNL Financial that had to juggle huge amounts of information.

Imagine being able to analyze and manipulate a merger between two of the largest banks in America and view their combined financial data projected over the next 5 years.

Now imagine doing exactly that with up to 50 banks at the same time. The sheer volume of data is incredible.

There's a live demo (with some functionality removed) of the application at http://mergers.teknision.com and you can see for yourself the complexity of the application.

But what I'm really proud of is how responsive the application is.

Designers may look at it and not see anything special, but a developer will understand the amount of work that went into it.

It really is an example of what an RIA is all about, desktop level performance from a web based application.

I've already mentioned Update Hollywood. The only thing I would add about that project is that it involved a lot of experimentation.

We wanted to be able to create an application that plays high definition video and overlays flash animations on top of the video to support advertising integration. We didn't even know if it was possible when we started.

Those are the best kinds of projects.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Absolutely. Flash is a full fledged development environment now. However, I think it's important for people to remember that Flash is only a tool.

I've read blogs ranting about Flash VS Ajax and I think that's just silly. I'm in the business of building user experiences, not Flash based user experiences.

  What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Design schools have come a long way. I have a lot of respect for some of the international institutions.

Unfortunately, I think schools here in Canada are just now catching on.

Only recently have the local schools realized that students need to know much more than just layout and design skills.

Students need to study psychology, art history, mass communication, marketing theory and consumer behavior.

I think it takes a really motivated person to get into our industry without the educational background, but it is possible. After all, when hiring someone I look at portfolios not grade point averages.

  When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

You have to market yourself. When starting out, we saw the biggest gains in new business after we got nominated for a couple of awards and appeared in some magazines and design portals.

  How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

Surround yourself with people better than you.

  What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?


  What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

I used to be a labels man. I now respect people who can look good without some obvious label.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Differentiate yourself. Our industry is getting very crowded and you have to stand out to succeed.

The hard part is finding a real differentiator, something that no one else can claim. Just saying you are the most creative means nothing. Anyone can say that.

One more thing - we're hiring!

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

The privilege is all mine. Thanks for the opportunity. Did I mention that we are hiring?

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