The favorite part of my job is thinking of the next concept, branding it and discovering it's true viability.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I have spent the last 11 years as Owner of Jester Communications (JCOM). I earned a BFA (with a Graphic Design concentration) from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2000, and subsequently started JCOM. I initially found the realm of design by what I like to believe was intended circumstances by stumbling into the administration office of SCAD by chance one day. These intended circumstances led me to a profession that I admire and thrive in and do not consider work. I founded Jestercom immediately upon completion of Art School for the simple fact that I already had a decent pool of freelance work established. For the past 11 years, I have learned the intricacies of Design, Development, Process and Business Practices and applied them directly to moving forward in our industry. I have always been open to taking risks to design / develop things that are not only pleasing to the eye but prove valuable in day to day business operations. I am always eager to listen and learn from those who know better than I and use others as inspiration and information to improve my performance and delivery.
What do you do for inspiration?
Pay attention to my surroundings, listen to music and spend tine on the May River here in Bluffton, SC. I also like to Cook.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Having started my company 2 days following graduation from Art School and maintained steady and growing business for the past 11 years having always worked for myself.
How many hours do you work each week?
50 but could stretch to 60 occasionally.
How do you relax or unwind?
Spend time on the beautiful May River, Fish, Drink Beer, Cruise on Golf Carts, Shoot Guns and snap pics.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Would manage and operate a Fried Chicken Restaurant
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
The favorite part of my job is thinking of the next concept, branding it and discovering it's true viability. The hardest part is maintaining consist cash flow in a growing company. When I get stuck, I lean on the competency of the others that I have surrounded myself with to assist in any situation.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
56 hours and 23 minutes. A few power naps were in this so not sure if that number is official or not...
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
In retrospect, It would have behooved me to gain some business experience initially prior to starting my company. After all, they do not teach much business in Art School. With that said however, the hard way is sometimes the best way to learn and ultimately this lack of knowledge initially allowed me to form my own strategies and techniques that are unique to our operation.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop & Skype
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
With each successful launch / Press release, our traffic tends to increase. The recent launch of the Sea Tow application has doubled our site traffic over the past few weeks.
Who is your target audience?
Currently, the Marine Industry, Politicians and any vertical that we can capture within the mobile arena.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Yes. It has gained us notoriety in many ways especially from several peers within the design community that have been highly influential and inspirational to me.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
It is certainly much easier over time based on our establishment of customized workflow process and series of checks and balances within our processes. This allows us to efficiently facilitate most any project, in house, and stay the schedule and budget. This being said, each client differs and determining their specific needs and accommodating them in a realistic timeline / budget will always be key.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was a site for Fuel Clothing that I built while still in Art School. It was pretty slick and dynamic for the time. It is no longer online.
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
The iPad application we created for the Beneteau Global Dealer network. It allows Dealers and consumers to interact with one another in real time and has proven beneficial for Boat Shows and marine events. Additionally, within the political realm, the aggregation of social feeds to mobile devices seems to now be intregal in communications in politics.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
Yes, The Sea Tow application that was recently launched has spawned a series of marketing opportunities that touch on traditional marketing avenues. This, because our application is trackable and can price the effectiveness of various marketing campaigns on a multitude of levels.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
Currently, we are trying to focus most of our efforts specifically towards the mobile arena.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
I believe that, over time, marketing will become more personalized and cater to specific individuals and their needs. My personal belief is that the web will always be needed as a vehicle to deliver customized and bundled content to specific demographics. When it comes to communicating to the masses, a standard browser will become less of the vehicle lending itself to applications.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
Beneteau Global Dealer iPad application
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
While I have a positive experience with Art School and feel as though it certainly helped me, I do not believe it to be necessary. I personally believe that drive, devotion, dedication, real world experience and mentorship can deliver a premiere artisan / developer.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Stay focused, always keep pushing yourself and understand that in order to make it to the level of an FWA award - time, commitment, dedication and a willingness to learn will be essential.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It is not difficult as long as the expectations of the relationship is clearly established immediately. Honesty, openness and a willingness to take and distribute constructive criticisms are critical.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
We all participate in this collectively. I am always poking around on the web / apps to learn from others. It is part of the daily work flow.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Personalized communication coupled with the willingness to immediately show capacities on the spot - "Show & Tell"
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Day to day perusal, blog reads, listening to others who run cool things by me.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I am most interested in creating an application that will truly help the state in which I was born and raised, South Carolina. This could be from a fiscal, informational or safety standpoint. Also, opening a state of the Art Fried Chicken Restaurant is certainly on my bucket list as well.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
Stability, continued learning and growth. Long term residual cash-flow and the creation of cutting edge mobile applications to help a multitude of arenas and processes. For me as a person, I look forward to continuing to do what it is that I love for a living and to learning more each and every day.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
I am currently interested in creating specific and highly specialized applications that cater towards the high net worth individual.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Larger TV for our conference room.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Black Pea Coat
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
The true test of a person's character are their actions when they think that no one is watching.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thank You for the FWA for the Sea Tow Application. This award has been a milestone for me and my career knowing that only the finest applications in the world are honored. I would like to thank Sea Tow International for providing the guidance, direction and business allowing us to design and develop an application for them.