Interview with James George – web developer knoxville
Interview with talented James George Owner of, G Squared Studios and an expert web developer from knoxville, Get to know about his secrets.
Hi, How are you?
I am great! Thanks for asking.
What you do, when you don’t design?
I write, a lot. I mainly write for my blogs, but I also write for others, too, like SitePoint and Web Designer Depot.
When and why did you think that web designing is suitable career for you?
I sat down one day and assessed my skills, what I am good at, and what I like doing. When I put all of those skills and interests together, it seemed like a perfect fit… and it was!
Describe your creative process?
I like to gather inspiration from different places like Abduzeedo, Awwwards, Pinterest, etc.Then I sketch out my ideas, create mockups, etc. focused on solving problems of my clients.
Which blog/ website do you read regularly and why?
SItePoint and WebDesignerDepot, Smashing Magazine, HowDesign, Speckyboy, Problogger.net. I read all of these regularly, because they provide excellent information, they get you thinking, and Problogger deals a lot with promotion and blogging, which has attributed greatly to my success.
How comfortable are you with writing HTML entirely by hand?
I’ve been doing it for years. HTML is like a second language to me. I took years of Spanish in High School and College, but I speak HTML much more fluently.
What applications do you use daily?
I am a traditional Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator guy. I create everything not code related in these applications. I build in Firefox, and Firebug is a must for inspection and troubleshooting CSS issues. Text edit is where I write a lot of HTML, believe it or not. I also write some PHP there, too.
What are a few of your favorite development tools and why?
I like TextWrangler for long time development. I like how it is set up, but I also use Dreamweaver. If I am developing in my XAMPP testing environment, I definitely will pull the site into Dreamweaver. The main reason is that I can search every file in a directory for specific terms, so I can find a snippet easily.
Tell me about your favorite project?
I assume you are talking about client projects. My favorite project is one I did recently, called PTM Edge, where I rebuilt a site that was built like an app with WordPress. I recreated the parts filter functionality, customizing an existing plugin. It’s my favorite, because it was such a challenge. It also had a back end membership area for dealers, which was fun to create, too.
What are a few personal web projects you’ve got going on?
I am an absolute side project fanatic! My favorite is DesignCrawl.com, which is a site about design, with a membership to regularly posted graphics and files. I also have Webdesignblog.org, webdesignfanatic.com, co, Logobam.com and I have several sites in the works.
Give me an example of a project where you disagreed with the client’s direction and tell me how you handled it?
I get a long with most clients, but every now and then you have clients that make you take a deep breath or two. One was an economic development council for a town, where they wanted to integrate a powerpoint presentation in their site. They thought it was “start of the art” – They were advised that this wasn’t the case. However, sometimes you are voted off the island, which was the case here. The neighboring towns were doing the same thing, so they wanted to make sure they were on board, too. In reality, it just didn’t match who they were targeted, but some clients will do what they want, no matter how much you advise against it.
Give an example of a situation where someone challenged your design. How did you handle it?
I have a retainer client that challenges my designs all of the time. I don’t take it personally. He just has a different taste than most. He likes a mix of vintage and constructivist styles, and I lean to more modern styles. I usually have him send me an example of something similar to what he is looking for. That works out better, because it is tough to understand his vision from his descriptions.
What are some questions you ask when starting a new project?
I like to ask about their goals, both personally and from a business perspective. It gives me an idea of their overall goals and where they want t end up. I like to ask for examples of sites they like, so I can get an idea of their taste. I have to ask about features and what they want and need the site to do. That tells me if their vision matches their budget. I can’t design a site that will take me 100 hrs to build and only make $1500 for it. I run a business, not a charity.
How would you handle a project that looks like it will go over budget?
It shouldn’t in the 1st I find out the details and put together a proposal. I note what I will do in the project and what isn’t included. They sign off on it, and if they try to integrate something that is outside of the scope of what we agreed upon, that’s when I blow the whistle. I do it with tact, though. I revisit the proposal with them, and tell them that I would be glad to do anything they want/need, but if it isn’t in the original proposal, they will be billed extra for the additional work.
Tell me about some experiences you’ve had working with developers in the past?
I’ve had to work with all sorts of designers and developers. One experience of note was a company that handled bank websites, and I had to hold their hand every step of the way. I built a site for a credit union (contracted through a marketing company I partner with) and the developers I worked with broke the site in the 1st 5 day we transferred the site over. They spent 2 days trying to fix it, and when I finally found out about it, I fixed it in 10-15 minutes. Long story short, I prefer to build and launch sites alone.
How do you stay on top of current design trends?
I read every resource I possibly can. Remember all of those sites I mentioned earlier? I read those, and more. I am constantly looking for new information, new software, and new technology to make me faster, better, and more efficient.
What keeps you going?
My passion. I love what I do. I have immersed myself in the world of design, and I don’t know what I would do without web design, WordPress, and owning my own business. I worked for businesses before, but having been on my own for a few years now, I can’t imagine going back. I love the freedom too much. I have the freedom to work as hard as I want, as much as I want, take a break when I want, explore anything I want, and I live on my own terms.
Which inspirational quote you like the most?
I like Bruce Lee’s
using no way as a way and having no limitation as limitation
which means that you live in the moment and not to try to pre-plan everything. Having no limitation means you have an open mind and you are free to explore any options available. Close mindedness is a surefire way to never find the best solution to problems. We are essentially creative problem solvers, and an open mind will help you find great solutions much faster.
What do you think about our newly launched CSSBEST?
I think it’s a great idea. Any sort of hub for inspiration or a showcase of design is the right way to go. Keep showcasing good work and helping other designers and you’ll have something truly special.
What advice you want to give to other web designer?
Never stop learning. Never ever feel as though you are ‘there”. Complacency is the killer of all creativity. Always strive to get to the next level. Pushing yourself and stretching your boundaries is a great way to get better and better. I have pushed myself to the limit countless times. You know what I have found when I pushed my boundaries and limits? They expanded, they grew, and so did I as a designer and a person.