On March 22, we are hosting real world expert and Adobe trainer Brian Wood for a 4-hour hands-on workshop on responsive design where you will learn how to optimize the websites you design for mobile devices and varying browser sizes in order to create a complete experience for users.
Get to know our instructor in this interview with Developer, Trainer, and Consultant Brain Wood, as he shares some of his favorite resources and approaches to design.
How did you get started doing web design and development?
Long story short—it was because of the promise of millions via an IPO. No, really, I was tired of doing print catalog production and wanted something more challenging. Web was right up my alley.
You describe yourself as someone who loves learning. Can you share about this passion that you have for learning, and when it started?
I guess I have always been into learning. I always needed to know the “why” behind the “how.” My mom would always tell me that I was the kid that got a video game and would take it apart that same day to find out how it worked.
What are some of the best methods and resources that you use to stay up to date on creative and development technology tools? (Please feel free to share websites and sources..)
Reading. I am usually on at least five different sites a day to check out what’s going on. Some of my favorites are AllTop.com, CSS-Tricks.com, Medium.com, and Twitter.
I also am on a few weekly newsletters: Web Development Reading List, Web Tools Weekly. SmashingMagazine, typmanus.net, and a bunch more. Like most everyone else I recently just found http://uptodate.frontendrescue.org/ (how to keep up).
With responsive design, people sometimes think of it as an extra feature that needs to be considered in a website. What is your view of responsive design, and do you share this when you teach?
These days with the way people are accessing the web with more and more devices it’s necessary to consider optimizing a site for those formats. That’s a roundabout way of saying yes, something like responsive design, adaptive design, etc. is necessary in my mind.
With responsive design a designer can create what is described as a “complete experience for users.” Can you elaborate and explain this?
This idea goes back to separating the content from the design. Depending on how the user will access the content (iPhone, laptop, etc.), the ability to access the site content should be the same. Responsive Design allows one website to provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes. In the past it was suggested that the phone experience is just a stripped down version of the desktop experience. This isn’t true these days with more users surfing the web on a mobile device. The future is moving towards mobile.
Can you share your elevator pitch for why Adobe Edge Reflow is a great tool to use when developing a website or interactive piece?
Today designers and developers may struggle more with handoff or relaying the experience to the customer because of the introduction of devices and responsive design. Adobe Edge Reflow is a way for designers to visualize the design and UI differences between viewport sizes and to convey that information to a client or developer. There is nothing worse than getting a “mobile” design and “desktop” design for a site and being told to “figure out” the between.
You have written over 8 books about various software tools and technology. What is your process like when writing a book?
My process is similar from book to book, but is always evolving. I don’t write in a vacuum, I like to see what’s out there and find out what people are gravitating towards in terms of learning materials. I try to create more “real world” projects that are simplified a bit, and the projects tend to change slightly after I rough out a chapter. I love writing books and articles. For me, there is no better way to solidify the meaning of something (figuring out the why along with the how) than writing or explaining it. The challenge is to present material so that others connect to it.
What are some of your favorite tools to use when building and developing websites?
There are a lot of great tools these days which include Sublime text, Git, Live Reload, WordPress, the Terminal, Cyberduck, Photoshop, Illustrator, and others.
How important is collaborating with others?
Collaboration is pretty important in my world. Creating in a vacuum is rough. Since I do more developing, learning new techniques is easier to do when I collaborate.
How do you present your work to your clients?
I share work lots of different ways, via Skype, via dev sites, Photoshop files and PDFs.
How do you know when you’ve achieved an understanding of what the client really wants?
It’s usually when the client voices this in the form of praise or fewer tweaky suggestions.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Other people’s work. Surfing the web is one of the best things to do as a web developer. For web sites, I also like to look at the UI and design of apps.
What do you do when you hit a creative roadblock?
When I hit a roadblock, I usually take a break and play basketball or tennis, or take a walk on the beach. I also stop to surf a few websites that have nothing to do with what I’m working on.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
My favorite part of doing design is the initial sketching—wireframing. So much possibility.
Do you do any sketching on paper?
Yes, I do sketch, but I use a digital pen and a program like Adobe Ideas.
What are the top 3 essentials in your workspace?
The 3 essentials are all my devices, a comfy chair, and music.
What do you do during your free time?
I like hiking, basketball, tennis, and playing legos with my 3-year old.
What are your predictions of what changes or trends in web and interactive design are coming in the next few years?
That’s a tough question. Web design and dev was seemingly on cruise control for years, then in the last few years there’s been a ramping up of design and technology. It’s hard to keep up at times. It’ll keep moving more towards touch devices, more interactive features like SVG and video, and a honing of features that make our design content seamless across devices.
What advice would you give to a designer who is just starting their career?
Keep learning. Understand code.
All images © Copyright Brian Wood, All Rights Reserved.
Kristen Baumlier is an artist and designer and is currently developing a interactive project called Food Font. Baumlier’s work was a finalist in the Where Do You Give? design contest, and a prototype of her interactive game design has been exhibiting across the U.S. since 2012. Baumlier taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art for over 12 years in the areas of interactive design and integrated media, and recently moved to the Triangle area.