Web International Awards

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APR 2006 0

Interview with Alec Rust, winner of Project of the Month: March 06

Who are you and what do you do? Tell us something about yourself that we cannot learn by reading your portfolio.

Hi, I'm Alec and I am a freelance web designer/developer. I don't do it full-time, lets say in my life I have my fingers in many different pies. The Internet is a big part of my life and I have been designing since I was around 14.

Your web site is amazing. Describe your design style.

In the past I have always gone for the 'design company' typical look. I had a design company www.acedesign.org which I ran with a friend, but when I sold that recently, I wanted to do everything with my client on a more personal level. Not to pretend to be some big multi-national company, but to just be me, and give reasons why that is a good thing! I spent hours looking through different design sites, and really took my time with every aspect of the site. I suppose I would describe my design style as finding simple solutions to complex problems. I have this saying somewhere on the site.

What designs do you like the most and why?

I like sites where almost every part of the design can me managed from the CSS stylesheet. Sites that look massive to the eye, but look at the source and there is hardly any HTML. I love simplicity, and some popular sites that I think have really achieved this are www.facebook.com and www.last.fm .

What is your specialization (Flash / XHTML / PHP etc)? Why have you chosen this particular domain.

My specialization out of those must be xHTML. I am a CSS addict primarily, but have developed my own Content Management System with PHP. I don't use Flash, because I don`t think quite yet enough Internet users have the Internet speeds required for it. I would also consider myself an experienced SEOer and have read many books on the subject.

What is more crucial in design - professional look or usability?

Most professional designs are usable, otherwise I wouldn't class them as professional. I would say usability is paramount.

What are the three things any web designer (freelancer) should know?

  • 1. You're not the first person to have thought of that idea.
  • 2. Build up a friendly relationship with clients, don't try to be overly professional and airy.
  • 3. Find one part of development you like, and learn absolutely everything about it. You cant be the best at everything, but you might be able to be the best at one thing.

Would you say it's profitable to have an online portfolio if you're a web designer?

It depends if it is visited enough. To be honest most of my business comes from recommendations or me going to the client, instead of someone finding me in a search. I use AlecRust.com as a kind of 'home-base' for all my projects.

Of the projects listed on your site, which one was the most challenging and why?

The work I was sub-contracted to do for www.sygneca.com was tricky. I can't say much about the project because it was for the government (they are a strange bunch) but basically I had to design e-newsletters. This sounds easy, but in order for my pages to display properly in all different online and offline email clients, I had to work using absolutely no CSS. That means old-fashioned HTML 4.0 tags. It was like them saying "here you go Alec, please design these pages in the worst code you can possibly manage".

What is your favorite software? What would be the ideal web graphic design software? What software couldn't you live without?

Four pieces of software I wouldn't be able to design without are Internet Explorer (yes, for testing purposes this is vital), Mozilla Firefox, Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver. To be honest I can't think of a way to improve those last two. One thing I certainly wouldn't want is one universal program for designing. That would be a nightmare. I think it would dilute the usability of both pieces of software.

Where do you see the development of your business? Any future projects in mind?

I am currently branching off into my own projects. I have been working for a while on a competitor to Facebook and MySpace, which should be released soon.

What do you think about web 2.0?

The best thing that happened to the Internet. It is surprising how few people understand it. Basically it is *user powered* content.

What is the first graphic software you ever used?

Good old Paint

How did your very first project look like?

It was in fact a fake identity website created on Freewebs!

Do you have any information or career advice to offer to our reading audience?

You can't dabble and expect to be successful. Go full out all the time or you have no chance.

Thank you for your time. It was a great pleasure to talk to you. This was Alec Rust, owner of www.alecrust.com and winner of Project of the Month: March 06 here at Web International Awards.

Published on Saturday, April 1st, 2006 at 1:01 am in 2006.

About Bogdan Pop

Bogdan Pop is a young Romanian entrepreneur who runs WebRaptor. He is a web developer with awesome design skills, who enjoys writing about everyday's work and usability. He relaxes by taking photos every once in a while and by mixing french electronic music. Connect with him via Twitter.

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