Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Speaker Spotlight: Jonathan Snook

Next in our series of interviews where we get up close and personal with our speakers is Jonathan Snook!

jonathan-snook.jpgJonathan is a freelance web developer living in Ontario, Canada. He has been a technical architect, project manager, developer, and designer on hundreds (maybe thousands!) of web projects such as JPG Magazine, Red Bull, the Canadian Red Cross, Apple Canada, and FedEx Canada. He writes on various web development topics here and as a columnist at Digital Web Magazine.

Q. You class yourself as a designer/developer, with experience in a range of different disciplines. What do you think about the debate that often goes on in the industry about how to describe exactly what you do? Do you think it matters to anyone other than the web community if you’re a front-end developer, a web designer or other?

A. We always look for ways to accurately and succinctly categorize what it is that we do. But web development is a huge spectrum that is constantly expanding. We often find ourselves wearing so many hats that a succinct title can never truly do what we do justice.

When dealing with clients, it’s mostly irrelevant. Most clients don’t know enough about the web development industry to realize the difference. They come to us — the people that build the sites — because we understand and know what’s involved and I doubt a job title would be the deciding factor in landing a new client.

Q. You’re going to be talking about AJAX and design in your session. Do you think there’s alot still to be understood about rational use of AJAX, and what do you hope people will take away from your talk?

A. I do think there is a lot to understand when it comes to the rational use of AJAX. We, as designers and developers, are problem solvers. All the buzz about AJAX has presented us with a plethora of solutions. We see a problem pop up and think, “Oh, Ajax can solve this!” And it may be the right solution to the problem but it’s important that we think beyond the specific problem and consider the correlated problems. It is these correlated problems that tend to get missed and, often times, it is the solution itself that ends up creating these problems.

I hope people walk away with perspective on the types of problems that AJAX *should* solve while also considering the problems that AJAX itself can introduce.

Q. Whose work do you admire – whether in terms of design, development, or simply as a blogger?

A. This is probably going to sound cheesy but I admire a lot of people in this industry for a lot of different reasons. Cameron Adams, Joe Hewitt, and Derek Featherstone are just the tip of the iceberg of talented individuals out there.

Q. You’ve been working with the web since back in the day – 1995 to be precise. Things happen so quickly in this business that it’s easy to not stop and reflect on how it’s changing: what do you perceive to be the most important changes in that time as a designer/developer?

A. I’m a pragmatist and I see everything that happens as very evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Ecommerce, though, is one of those major shifts that helped bring millions of people to the web. More recently, creating new ways of analyzing the wealth of data we have, such as with mashups, show great potential for looking at information in new ways. The more we understand, the more readily we can solve problems at hand.

Q. Finally, we’re really thrilled to have you speaking at this event, and we know you’ve attended a lot of web conferences in the past. What would be your advice to anyone thinking of attending – what do you get out of conferences like this?

A. For me personally, it’s an opportunity to connect with the colleagues one-on-one. That’s something, especially as a freelancer working from home, that I just don’t get the opportunity for on a regular basis. To me, that’s invaluable. Beyond that, it’s a great barometer of the industry. What are people talking about, what are the issues that are important, and what are the expert opinions on those issues?

One of the common things you’ll tend to hear is the rejuvenation of spirit that you get after attending a conference like the “Future of Web Design”. You feel energized to do what you love to do every day. And that’s a really great feeling to have.

Many thanks to Jonathan

Next speaker coming soon! 🙂

Advertisements

Speaker spotlight: Mathew Patterson (Campaign Monitor)

Want to know more about the experts who’ll be speaking at FOWD?

Follow our series of interviews with these leading lights in the design community.
First up, Mathew Patterson, Community Manager at Freshview, the team behind Campaign Monitor.

mat-patterson2.jpg

Q. You’re coming all the way over from Australia for this conference – so thank you! What makes Campaign Monitor the expert on email newsletters?

A. Thanks for inviting me! Most of our customers are based in the States, so this is a great opportunity to come and speak to some of them, as well as meet some new people.
The web is full of really great email marketing and communications advice (and a lot of really bad advice!), but with Campaign Monitor we try to focus quite specifically on the design side of HTML email – making the experience of creating and sending emails a lot less frustrating, and letting designers get on with what they are paid for, the creative work.

We have customers in countries all over the world, from freelancers all the way up to companies like Ebay and Nike, and even including fellow speakers Threadless. Their lists are of wildly different sizes, but they can all see the value in a service that just gets out of your way and lets you create your own designs, send them, and follow up with great reporting. We spend a lot of time researching issues of CSS support in email clients as well as things like image blocking, and we’ve done a lot of the hard work up front in finding out what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re a web designer needing to know how to do HTML email, then you’ll find that Campaign Monitor is the best resource out there.

Q. Tales of the impending death of email have been around for some time now, but it’s still a hugely valuable and popular marketing and communications tool. However, there’s a lot of confusion about how effective these can be in the face of filtering and blocking and so on. Why do you think email marketing is still important?

A. Communicating with your customers by email consistently ranks as one of the most effective methods of growing businesses. Everybody’s favourite guru Jakob Nielsen has stated that having an email newsletter is “is probably the single-highest ROI action you can take to improve your Internet presence”. As web designers we tend to be ahead of the ‘non-geek’ world, and think everyone should be using RSS and surfing the web all day, but the fact is that the huge majority of people are not out subscribing to feeds, but they are reading their email.

Relevant, valuable information sent by email is an excellent way to build relationships with your customers or clients, and it can be targeted much more specifically to the things individuals are interested in. We send out millions of emails every day for tens of thousands of customers, and we hear from those customers about the great results they are getting, so we know it works.

Q. Is there an art to designing the perfect email newsletter – a tried and tested format that works?

A. If only it was that easy! Certainly from a technical perspective there are some things we know work in most cases, and there are some general email design principles like making it clear who is sending the email and how to unsubscribe that apply in every case. However, just like in general web design, the right approach is dependent on the audience you are trying to reach. One company’s perfect newsletter format would probably not work as well for the company next door.

There is an art to designing email newsletters, and the key is understanding the nature of email. It’s a much more personal medium than a webpage – it comes right to you, and that means it can be very effective, but also very intrusive. If you can be respectful of that, then you have an opportunity to talk quite directly with your customers and prospects. Our gallery is full of different approaches to this, there’s no one perfect design. Know your audience, just like in web design.

Q. What kind of topics will you be tackling in your session, and what do you hope people take away?

A. At the Future of Web Design I will be talking about the current state of HTML email, particularly as opposed to the state of web design in general. We know that parts of the web design community see HTML email as the red headed step-kid of the web, but I hope that I can help people to see that HTML email is not going away, and that there is a big role for web designers to play in making email a better experience for everyone.

Keep watching this space for our next speaker interview!! 🙂


Back home …

Stay up to date

FOWD Photos

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031