.

My favourite sites are ones that give me the content I want in an easy to use manner. Design is only a small part of what makes a website great.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I fell into this industry by accident after studying to become a sound engineer.

I started playing around with Director and then Photoshop/Flash so that I could create websites and album covers for the bands we were recording and playing in.

I also started playing around with video and editing software so that we could film the bands.

These 3 elements- music, film and design now play a daily part in my life.

I live on the sunny south coast of Portugal after moving here 3 1/2 years ago from cold and wet

England.

I spend most of my time surfing, playing football and hammering back the local abynsth.

  What do you do for inspiration?

I take most of my inspiration from the area around me. I love the happy, sunny lifestyle of Portugal that puts a smile on my face as I walk to the beach.

I also love the contrast in beachside resorts, the mellow, easy going days and the wild and hectic nights.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

BBC Sport, football.

My local surf report.

google.com

My favourite sites are ones that give me the content I want in an easy to use manner. Design is only a small part of what makes a website great.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Version2 of advanceflash.com, we knew we had to take the business up a level.

The evolution of the new site, the products and the business itself was, for me and the team, a huge achievement.

  What software couldn't you live without?

Any software involved in beaming English football over to Portugal.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We are about to release a large flash ecommerce site for a record label.

We are also taking our first steps towards planning AdvanceFlash version3, this will be a huge project and one I am equally scared and excited about.

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

fantasy-interactive.com (Web design)

iso50.com (Print design)

apple.com (Product design)

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

I only really release one or two sites a year as it is no longer my main focus but each launch seems to get a higher amount of traffic. I guess I'm getting better at playing the marketing game!

  Who is your target audience?

For advanceflash.com we target web designers and other media producers.

We will soon be selling High Definition video which will hopefully open us up to new markets too.

For our client work, luckily they are usually quite net savvy and have good statistics about their target audience, this makes life a lot easier when starting a new project.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Flash usability is my main gripe. Some designers are over concerned with pushing the boundaries of their design, but then throw usability out of the window.

Flash has never been that good when it comes to usability, but there are some fairly simple techniques that all design firms should be using. The ability to deeplink content, clear and easy navigation, fast loading sections, searchable content etc.

Content is king and enabling users to access that content should be the most important thing for any designer.

I know this doesn't apply to every website out there, film sites for instance can get away with a more exploratory type of site.. but for most of us doing corporate/content driven sites, usability should be as important as the design itself.

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

It wasn't all that bad I guess, it had a surf/ocean theme like all of my portfolios. It took me a while to work out I could increase the fps, so most of my early sites were a bit on the choppy side.

Luckily, none are available for viewing.

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

I did get contacted about creating a book regarding After Effects and Flash but unfortunately I didn't have the time to commit to doing it.

It is definitely something I would like to do one day, but for now AdvanceFlash has to be my priority.

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

I guess the toughest thing I have done was pre-planning the advanceflash.com site which took many months.

Trying to work out how people would use the site and access the products easily as the product database grew in size was quite a headache for an all flash site. Luckily, I have a great development team void.pt that made my pre-planning a reality.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I am sure of it. It really is a great tool for creating intelligent websites.

If Adobe/Macromedia can find a way to allow html style usability for Flash based sites, then I can't see why I would ever create a site any other way.

The great thing about Flash is the ability to load content within the interface rather than having to reload entire pages, it just makes for such a smooth experience especially when you are dealing with mixed media like images, video and sound.

Add that to the ever growing ability to tie the site in with databases and server side scripting, the development of Flash video, the introduction of alpha video and many other key elements... I think Flash is here to stay.

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

When I was in education in 1998/2001 the universities were so keen to add web design to their course list that the whole thing became a shambles.

Anyone who could write a line of html could begin teaching web design.

I did a 2 week course in multimedia (in which I learnt practically nothing), that is all the educational experience I have in web design.

So yes, I think you can go a long way teaching yourself, even more so now with access to video tutorials and forums like ultrashock.com.

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

I found that promoting myself on forums really helped.

Being friendly with other up and coming designers and helping out with any questions I could answer helped to spread my name and url. I also found, and still find, that treating any client you get with respect and good service will help to create new leads.

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

I learn nearly all of my techniques by opening up the program and playing around with the things that I don't know how to use.

Always play around with the software. Too many people, if they have a problem, will instantly ask for help. If they were to sit back and try and work out the problem themselves, the chances are they would find the solution and perhaps also find a really cool technique along the way.

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

Probably my bar tab for the weekend. I quite like a booze.

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

I'm usually just sat in shorts… it's hot out here.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Friends and family are the most important thing in the world, don't let anything get in the way of spending time with them.

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

Thank you FWA! Come to Portugal, I'll buy you a beer and some pigs ear salad.


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