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SEP 2006 0

Interview with Matthew Ginop of MCG Web Development

Who are you and what do you do? Tell us something about yourself.

Well, I am a 32 year old website designer / developer living in the northern tip of Michigan's lower peninsula. I've been creating websites and working with the web since 2001. Prior to working on the web I received a bachelor degree in "Plastics Engineering" from Ferris State University, and was working as a project engineer for a tier 1 automotive parts supplier, in the suburbs of Detroit. In 1999, a diving accident left me paralyzed (C5/C6 quadriplegic) from the chest down. Soon after the accident, I returned to my hometown and spent most of my spare time on the web.

After learning to create websites via the internet, I created a couple for some non-profit organizations and a few personal ones. Through word-of-mouth, the business took off and I started MCG Web Development as a sole-proprietor in 2001.

I incorporated the business in 2005, and now work full time at it from my home based office.

What designs do you like the most and why? Describe your design style.

I like all kinds of styles really. From grunge to minimalist. However, most of my designs are kind of customer driven. Personally, I prefer creating sites that are clean looking, accessible and fast loading. Having spent many years on a dial-up connection, with poor phone lines to boot, I know what is like to wait and wait for a site to load. So, I still design my sites to be dial-up friendly whenever possible.

Of your favorite hobbies, which one has a chance of eclipsing your web design career and why?

I doubt any. I don't know many people willing to pay me to watch movies and sports, spending time with my family, friends or my Airedales (dogs). Maybe playing blackjack, but that's always a crap shoot.

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

I'd have to say using "Web Standards" and "Table less Designs" with XHTML/CSS. I choose this because it has so many benefits (SEO, Accessibility, Usability, Fast Loading, Easier Site Wide Updates, etc).

Don`t you think flash is disadvantaged because in most cases it requires high speed internet?

Yes, but that is not the only reason. If not done right, Flash sites have all kinds of issues with accessibility, usability, search engines crawling them, etc. Personally I believe Flash should be used sparingly to enhance a site, not be its focal point.

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

Definitely usability, but a site's "look" can also be really important. If a visitor is unable to get the information (or buy the product) they came to the site for, then the site failed them. Regardless how the site "looks", I doubt that visitor will look favorably upon that business, or ever return to that site.

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

  • 1 Try to avoid cheap customers. This is hard at first but you will be better off without them. Trust me.
  • 2 Treat the customer good no matter how bad they are to work for. Existing customers are the best way to get new work (AKA: word-of-mouth).
  • 3 Never stop honing your craft. The web continues to evolve, so you should too.

What sort of attention has your online portfolio brought you? Would you say it's profitable to have one if you're a web designer?

Not sure about the attention but I definitely recommend every designer have one. I find most potential customers will browse through your portfolio prior to contacting you regarding a new project.

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

PhotoShop. PhotoShop. PhotoShop.

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

None in the near future as I'm currently too busy with my current workload. However, I plan to offer my customers open-source blogs and content management systems that have already been pre-configured, so little customization is needed.

Thus they get a great looking and functional website which they can maintain at a reduced cost with a fast turnaround time.

What do you think about web 2.0?

I think we will see a very steadily increase in popularity with advanced sites like online banking and other sites that store your personal information. However, I do not see it greatly affecting the majority of informational type sites anytime soon due to its cost of development.

What is the first graphic software you ever used?

Probably Windows Paint (how sad is that). I also used the free IrfanView (I actually still use it sometimes to make FavIcons).

How did your very first project look like?

My first real project turned out really well considering I was using MS FrontPage at the time. Of course it had a table based layout, a scrolling marquee and probably a few other features that are frowned upon now.

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

One thing I learned is not to provide every potential customer with a free mock-up. It's OK if you already received the job, but many projects never see the light of day or are awarded to a low-ball bid. Often the mock-ups are even given to other bidders! If a mock-up is required for a bid, make sure your compensated for your time.

Thank you Matthew, we appreciate a lot you spent dome of your time to talk to us.

Published on Saturday, September 23rd, 2006 at 10:53 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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