Interview with top web designer Neil Sherwood
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into web design and development?
To be honest, I kind of fell into the web design industry. I was first introduced to graphic design when I was in school. I was taught the very basics of HTML at the time. I really got involved some years later when I landed a job with a startup company.
My position was more of a marketing related position but since I had some experience in design and HTML, I was able to quickly jump in and work on websites if needed. Once that happened I was hooked and began to learn all I could about web design, web standards and front-end technologies.
The rest is pretty much history and I now work full time within those areas and spend my days creating websites and interfaces for clients of all kinds.
Do you consider yourself as more of a designer or a developer?
I would have to say designer by far, as I mainly focus on visual design and front-end code. Although, I do enjoy working with developers and almost always pick up something new in the process. I always keep an open mind but also try to educate while making sure the code comes out as clean and well-structured as possible. It’s always a bit exciting when I explain to a developer why a certain bit of markup should be written in a certain way and they actually learn something new.
I do dabble in a bit of code every now and again but when it comes to creating solutions for clients I tend to leave the programming to real developers.
What is your normal process for creating a website from start to finish?
How important do you consider web standards to be in modern web design?
I’m glad you asked… Web standards and standards based design practices are highly important and help to improve the web for everyone involved. In the beginning the movement was established to solve a major problem with the way browsers were competing with each other and causing nothing but major headaches for developers.
Having a standardized way to produce code helped to eliminate the problem of having to code multiple versions of websites for different browsers. Just imagine having to do that today with a site that contains thousands of pages! Incorporating web standards guidelines into designs can also help to reduce load time, ease maintainability, improve accessibility and work on a wider range of devices. Those few points would make web standards highly important in modern web design and the benefit to users is the icing on the cake.
Finally Neil, do you have any tips for people starting in the industry?
Find the section of web design you are most passionate about and totally immerse yourself in it. In the web design industry things change at such a fast pace – If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing you will burn out or be left at the back of the pack.
Above all, enjoy it and get to know others in the field. Working solo can sometimes be a lonely situation but from my experience our industry is full of amazing people that are always open and willing to give great advice and interaction.