Interviews are always something I read when trawling through my RSS reader. Getting the insight into someone else’s daily design life really interests me. I hope it also interests you because over the next few weeks I’m hoping to publish some interviews with proffessionals, who have been working within the web design world and would like to share their ideas with you. The first of these is right here in all its glory!
Today’s interview is with a web designer and blogger who goes by the AKA of ‘The Floating Frog’ and he has answered my questions brilliantly, provinding you with some great information. Enjoy!
1) If you could start by giving the readers an introduction about yourself. How did you get into the industry? How long have you been doing it? What sort of clients have you worked for etc.
Hi I’m Gary, or as most people know me as The Floating Frog. I have designed user interfaces for the last 8 years for a variety of clients in multiple sectors and medias. Away from the usual web design work I do on a daily basis I have also had experience with Touch Screen interfaces and other multimedia mashups. I trained for 4 years at college, 2 years Art & Design then another 2 in Graphic Design. Plans were set for University until I got offered a role of trainee web designer with a new local IT startup.
I spent the next 4 years learning hands on the technical requirements needed to succeed at agency level whilst having valuable exposure to other IT sectors other than just web design. Within these four years I designed multiple touch-screen UI’s for several companies and government organisations. I also gained valuable graphic design experience designing in large format, including arcade machine branding, billboard campaigns and conference banners and literature. Other experiences includes Bluetooth marketing, VoIP, office networking, CRM systems, IT training and corporate identity.
I now work as a senior web designer for the award winning 9xb who offer a full digital agency service.
I have worked closely with clients such as Coca-Cola, Haagen Daz, Pearl & Dean, Tesco, Hi-Tec, Qhotels, Ping and many others.
2) Your name ‘Floating Frog’ where did that come from?
The Floating Frog derived from a designer/developer metaphor. Developers used to pass comment all the time that their work was never praised because there was never anything tangible to see, where as a designers work was giving him/her all the credit on a job. The illustration on the site of the frog sitting in the rubber ring above the surface is this metaphor with the green squid under the surface and out of sight. This illustration was created from my daughters bath toy that she used to play with all the time until I stole it to create what is now called The Floating Frog, me the designer that everyone can see, or at least the work I do :)
3) Could you describe to me your typical day?
Currently my average day is pretty mundane, I wake up, drink tea (tea is very important to me lol) and head off to the studio. The studio is pretty relaxed, I work with around 10 developers and we all get on great and have a laugh. We even play table tennis on a make-shift table tennis table made from an old white board and filing cabinet. A conversation doesn’t normally pass without a football being passed around or more accurately kicked.
The evening I get to focus on my personal projects. One that’s in full swing at the moment is Bethemiddleman.com. It’s going to be fantastic when it launches. It’s a free to use property portal aimed at the private housing market with the entire housing ladder under one roof.
Freelancing isn’t really my bag these days, I foresee a greater return on these projects I’m involved in rather than working for somebody else.
4) How would you describe your style as a designer? Where do you think your style has come from? Do you think people are born with a particular design style or is it something you can learn?
I don’t have a style, each piece of work is unique and tailored to the client and their objectives. I like this because no two pieces are the same so my employer and clients can’t predict what I’ll do and this is the most satisfying part of my job. Ever job is a fresh start, a new challenge without a pre-fabricated answer. I create the story, the start the middle and the end.
5) Where do you go if you are looking for inspiration? When a project is first given to you, what are your initial processes? Do you dive straight into design? Do you research first? Or something else perhaps…
Each client is asked to provide websites they like and dislike, this gives me a great starting point and immediately highlights to me the way forward and the strategy needed. I may spend an hour or two looking at competitors, inspiration galleries, new trends and a bit of their demographics if they have any. From that point the colour scheme, positioning and strategy is decided upon, the required elements are factored into the design and the finished visuals are presented to the client. It’s a pretty standard process, one I’m done now hundreds of times.
6) Now you have been running a successful blog for a while now. What was your initial reasoning for starting the blog and are you glad you started it? What benefits (if any) do you think you have gained from doing so?
Blogging came as a result of a growing interest I started to have around 12 months ago. I saw it as a creative dump, a place to put all the things that interest me, impress me and it acts almost like a bookmark site of all the things I want to remember and archive. Luckily others have found it of interest too and it’s quite popular on the social media sites.
The Floating Frog never started out as a blog, it used to be my portfolio with a blog bolted on at a later date. We then decided to make it a dedicated blog and move my portfolio of work away onto a separate domain.
The Floating Frog breaks a lot of the blogging rules. It’s not targeted, it doesn’t focus on a niche and it can be completely off the cuff. It’s not there to make money, which is a good thing because it never will. The main asset it gives me as a creative is a base, somewhere people can go to stay in touch with me.
7) For anyone thinking about starting a blog, how many hours a week do you put into yours and where do you get your post ideas?
Typically The Frog Blog is updated around 5 times and fits in around work and my side businesses. I get my ideas sporadicly, if I learn something new or have something in mind I’ll blog there and then. I’m not someone who forces myself to find something to blog about. Quality beats quantity and on a blog like mine it’s only the best things I bother to blog about.
8) Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Have you got any final piece of advice for anyone just starting a career as a web designer?
My advice for anybody wanting to be a web designer is to forget primarily about anything technical, you can learn that. What you can’t be taught is how to design, it’s natural, a gift, a passion. Always stay creative, web design should be one of many assets in your creative toolkit. Experiment in different areas of IT, design posters, design a product, expand your creative thinking. Gain experience. Always remember Quality beats quantity but experimentation beats them all. Idea generation and creative innovation is what’s really important. Good luck!