Website design happens to be the crossroads of where all of my interests collide into a single profession. It is where fine arts meets technology meets interactivity, and depending on the ratios of each, creates an unlimited source of possibilities for creative productions.
From a young age I have been very interested in drawing and photography which led to focusing on obtaining a degree in Fine Arts and Art History. I then transferred to Pratt Institute which is a design school in NYC where I received a degree for Graphic Design. School was great, but I can't deny the fact that it was actually being within the NYC culture that really pushed my design skills and interests.
NYC and my experiences there raised a lot of questions. I met many fulfilled artists and designers who freelanced their way through life in one of world's most expensive cities. I also met young professionals working for the world's top brands on projects geared towards global audiences. I liked the entrepreneurial qualities of the first, and the project type and culture influencing qualities of the latter. Eventually, I found my path for fulfillment through creating a web design business of my own.
I study web design with more purpose than anything I have ever done professionally before. The more I learn, the more I love about it. It fits for me because of the fact that as a web designer, I'm not limited to static graphics on paper, but I get to design actual experiences and interactions - something that engages the user.
That type of storytelling and "back-and-forth" with the end-user is why I love what I do. The promise of new technologies and what that means for the world of design is a great reason to get up in the morning.
As a web designer I try to keep in mind the old printers acronym "K.I.S.S." which means "Keep It Simple, Stupid". I value this adage for two reasons.
First, it reminds me how easy it is for the scope of any project to spiral out of control. This is especially true when it comes to managing large websites. Easily, the most difficult part of my job is when we acquire poorly-conceived website projects with overly-complicated structures, that I am then forced to work around as opposed to with. People in all trades can relate to this, how often are contractors forced to shore up the half-baked efforts of their predecessors?
As far as I am concerned the buck stops here when it comes to websites. I am always happy to tear up old, unnecessary foundations in order to provide an improved, optimised and more holistically oriented experience.
The second reason is that "Keep It Simple, Stupid" reminds me to maintain the sense of levity that creative work absolutely demands. "Stupid" can be read as a noun or a secondary adjective. Either the work itself has gained, or been passed to me in, such a convoluted state that I can hardly wrap my brain around it, or I have been so focused on a small, but vital, area of the work that I cannot see the cohesive whole anymore. I always find that the best thing to do is to step away from my computer, take a breath, think about how silly it is to get mad at electrons (or anything for that matter), sit back down like a scientist and start cutting down the variables.
Also, like a scientist, I try to approach any problem as objectively as possible, and without any pre-conceived notions. It is easy to think of the computer as a magic box full of tiny people that spend all day carrying out useful tasks, much like we often anthropomorphize our own brain functions. This metaphor is actually very lacking but the fact is, brains and computers are very similar in that the latter is as close an approximation to the former as humans are able to build with current technologies and thinking.
A computer is actually much more like a series of millions of on/off switches at the electron scale. By manipulating these switches in different patterns based on a pre-conceived framework a computer can represent any piece of data, this is called Binary Encoding. From the integer "3" (binary: 11, or two bits on), to each individual pixel of a photographic image (represented as an incredibly long string of 1's and 0's), binary does it all.
Manipulating electrons with plain english, even the abstracted versions of english that comprise HTML and CSS is amazing, especially when one stops to consider that the coding languages used by humans are then further encoded to be conveyed to the computer in the same binary bits it then uses to represent the intended design.
As complex as it may seem from the description above, True computer scientists would tell you that I have only conveyed an inkling of what is actually going on inside our wonderful magic boxes. Keeping that in mind I always find that it is better to assume I know nothing than to immediately take a position of authority.
How can you learn anything you think you already know?