Next in our CSS Designer Spotlight is Jason Zimdars. Much of his work has been featured in the major CSS Galleries including CSS Burst. His personal site, http://www.thinkcage.com is currently being redesigned, and has a small portion of his overall portfolio.
CSS Burst: How did you get into web design?
JZ: I started making websites in college. We had a design course called "Design Technology" that allowed us to explore some new media technologies. At that time there were no WYSIWYG editors like Dreamweaver so you really had to learn your HTML. I was really interested in the medium so I poured all of my efforts into learning about the web. This continued over the next few years as I looked for every opportunity to explore the web -- I even got my painting instructor to allow me to use Flash for a project.
CSS Burst: How do you prepare yourself mentally for a new design?
JZ: The pure creative conceptualization is always the toughest part. You always want to do something that really fits the client and project, but also something unique. The initial stages of the design
process for me is really about research -- immersing myself in the client. I look over meeting notes, the client's current website, and the websites of other organizations in their industry. I'm looking to
see what others are doing well and how we can do things better than the competition. I also try to draw inspiration from other artists and designers. Overall, I'm just making myself open to ideas and ready to be creative.
CSS Burst: Does your mood affect the design you put out?
JZ: I don't know if there is a direct effect. But I will say the creativity is a fickle thing and some days it feels like that great idea will never come. There are techniques you learn along the way
that can help jump-start the creative process, but there are times where it just isn't going to happen. When that happens many times I'll put the work away and come back to it later.
CSS Burst: What is one of the most important pieces of information you get from a client? Colors? Logo tie in? Audience?
JZ: My goal in a project planning meeting is always just to get the client talking. Colors, logo, branding, and audience are all important. But what I really want to hear is the client talking about
their website. What they don't like about their current website. What they wished the new one would do. I want to hear the pain - that's where the best ideas come from.
CSS Burst: Do you have any advice for designers just getting into web design?
JZ: I have two pieces of advice for new web designers:
- Learn HTML. Don't rely on WYSIWYG editors or other software. Really learn HTML and CSS. Know how it works. Be able to build a site from the ground up. This makes for better, leaner websites and really makes a difference when it comes to fixes and updates.
- Live on the web. Browse all over the place and keep up with what is going on in technology, technique and design. You've got to know where you are in order to move forward. Sign up for all the betas and try everything out. When you really think as a resident of the web you'll make better designs that draw on the things you've learned from others. There are tons of brilliant people making the web. Follow their lead and then pave your own path.
We would like to thank CSS designer Jason Zimdars for taking the time for our interview. Stop back by for more CSS Designer Spotlights in the future.