I interview Martin Bean

Martin Bean - Digital Pop/Yourfightsite.comMartin Bean is a talented young developer from the North East of England. Working through the day at online marketing and digital marketing agency Digital Pop, Martin spends the rest of his time freelancing for yourfightsite.com. An avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and with a great understanding of back end development, Martin will achieve a lot.

Full Name and Age please

Martin Bean (Martin Christopher Bean if we’re being pedantic) and 20 years.

Favourite Biscuit and Drink?

Fox’s Crunch Creams and a cup of coffee. Together.

Last Book you read and the last movie you saw?

The last “book” I read was actually a graphic novel: “Batman: The Long Halloween” by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Someone referred it to me as it was apparently one of the graphic novels The Dark Knight team took influences from for the movie’s story (and it was interesting to see those similarities, albeit subtle). The last movie I saw was “Angels and Demons” on DVD. I thought it was a bit pants to be honest. My girlfriend assures me the book is far better, so I may have to pick up a copy to see if she’s right.

Where and when did it all start?

I’m not sure how or exactly when it started. I remember being in maybe the second year or secondary school (so about 12) and picking up a book on HTML in my school’s library. I gave up after the first chapter. I would later re-visit the idea of learning HTML and building websites and was a fair bit more successful than my first attempt.

I also had a copy of FrontPage on my home PC, but worked religiously in the code view. Crafting HTML pages and getting irked with FrontPage’s habit of inserting Microsoft specific tags and removing them way before I heard of standards compliant mark-up or what it meant. CSS then came soon after.

I began subscribing to Practical Web Design magazine (a now-defunct offshoot of .net magazine) and that helped my HTML/CSS skills considerably in a quick amount of time.

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At college, I didn’t really progress my skills that much. I had a good knowledge of HTML and CSS and was the go-to guy with my peers for help, but other than that I wasn’t going anyway technically, but picked a hell of a lot up in terms of the theory of web design and design in general. In my second year of college, I got a placement with a leading new media design agency in Newcastle. They threw me in the deep end, telling me I had two months to learn PHP (which saw me end up swimming rather than sinking) and got my foot in the door to employment in Newcastle. I would move to Newcastle from my home town of Darlington little over a year later after a couple of stints at other agencies in the region.

Is there anyone in the industry you’re enjoying the work of at the moment?

Andy Clarke. But that vested interest is biased as he’s redesigning the home page for CannyBill, a product by dpivision.com Ltd, whom I used to work for.

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What does a general day consist of for you?

A week day usually consists of getting up at around 7:00am. I hop on a Quaylink to Newcastle City Centre, then get on another bus to work. At the moment my days are spent working on a super-secret project, but other than that I’m a web developer for a digital online marketing agency, so there’s never a shortage of projects. But currently I working away developing a social networking site in PHP/MySQL.

What’s your cup of tea, front end dev or back end dev?

Definitely back-end development. I thought I would be a web designing, but turns out my calling was in development.

You’re a huge fan of MMA and set up yourfightsite.com, who do you think will be able to take the title from Brock Lesner? (I’m a fan also).

Good question. Brock Lesnar has this stigma that due to being a former professional wrestler and a multiple-time WWE Champion that he shouldn’t do well in a “real” fight sport, but the fact of the matter is, is the guy is a monster. His only downfall is his lack of experience in MMA fights which was glaringly visible in his UFC bout with Frank Mir back in February 2008 I think it was. That will be Brock’s downfall – a lack of experience. However, with each and every fight he closes that gap, and no one can go toe-to-toe with him in terms of size or strength.

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Are you a PC or a Mac and do you have a reason for choosing one over the other?

PC, simply for the fact that I’ve never had enough money for a Mac when I had to buy a new machine at home. And at work we all use PCs. However, if I had the option I would definitely grab a Mac.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I think it’s dead set that PHP is my core skill set, but in the future I hope to expand my knowledge of web technologies. I want to be a versatile programmer and have a great knowledge of various languages. Java interests me, .NET not so much though. I don’t want PHP to limit my capabilities in the realm of server-side development or programming. I definitely want to become my au fait with AJAX as well.

Will you be heading to any conferences over the next year?

I’ve been wanting to attend a conference for the past year or so, but haven’t been able to whether it was because of money or lack of time off etc. I’m really pining to go to one, so think I may try and attend one in the North East first, just to see what’s involved, and then go for a larger one down south. Richard Quick’s Bamboo Juice conference piqued my interest somewhat and was about to go until something came up at the last minute, despite the nice chap offering me a discounted ticket!

Thanks to Martin for getting involved, check out Martins work at yourfightsite.com

I interview Paul Randall

paulrandallPaul Randall is a Web Designer & Developer from the South-West of England and has been creating websites full time since 2006. He has worked on some very interesting smaller personal projects which I inquire about during the interview.

Thanks to Paul for taking the time out to get involved in the interview.

Full Name and Age please

Paul Randall, 22 years old

Favourite Biscuit and Drink?

It has to be a mug of tea, and Crunch Creams. I could literally eat a whole pack in one go!

Last Book you read and the last movie you saw?

I have just finished reading Thinking In Type, by Ellen Lupton, and was captivated by District 9 at the cinema.

Where and when did it all start?

After my A-Levels, I left school to work as an IT Administrator for a manufacturing firm—doing the usual fixing PC and printer problems, but soon became tried of the monotony of it. I was doing a day-release Foundation Degree course in Computing & Internet Technology at the time, and so I offered to redesign the companies’ site for them. I was always a creative person and had made personal websites in my spare time before, but when it launched, that’s when I knew I wanted to design and build sites as a job.

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A few months later I noticed a job advertisement in a local paper which was looking for a Web Designer/Developer. I applied and had a phone call on the Friday to come to an interview on the Saturday. I was offered the position straight after! I stayed with that company for just over a year, working on in-house ASP sites in SQL Server and some client work before moving to my current job in June 2008, where I now work predominantly with HTML, PHP and MySQL.

Is there anyone in the industry you’re enjoying the work of at the moment?

I really admire the work of Tim Van Damme, Jina Bolton, Vitor Lourenço and Greg Wood.

What does a general day consist of for you?

I will get up at about 8, catch up on Twitter and head for work just before 9am. You will usually find me with the headphones on, listening to Daft Punk or The Prodigy working on the latest piece of client work in either Dreamweaver or Photoshop.

After work I tend to play around with new bits of HTML5 or CSS3, catch up on RSS feeds or play on the XBox.

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What’s your cup of tea, front end dev or back end dev?

I really enjoy the creativity of graphic design, so front end dev is the thing I enjoy most; but the best thing about my job is the fact I work in both, and love switching between them. If I had to choose though, it would be front-end, every time.

You work on various projects, which has been your favourite so far?

In terms of a personal project, it would have to be the H1 Debate (http://h1debate.com). It was such a simple concept, but from the comments it has had, it really caused people to think about how they use the H1 tag, and about coding their sites in general. It also gained a lot of exposure, which I really didn’t expect.

I am always pleased with the work I produce at my job, but never showcase my employers’ work.

I have also recently begun creating monthly wallpapers. I really like the design challenges it creates,   as it keeps me trying to find new inspiration, but I missed last months’ due to me working on my personal site relaunch.

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Are you a PC or a Mac and do you have a reason for choosing one over the other?

I have always worked on a PC and currently use Vista on a daily basis. This is simply because the   places I have worked for have been PC-based. My laptop is also a PC, running XP, but I will switch to a Mac when it needs replacing as I need to see what all the fuss is about!

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I’d love to focus on just designing more, but continuing to work in a small team. I really enjoy the involvement you can have in a project—seeing it from start to finish.

Will you be heading to any conferences over the next year?

I haven’t got any planned at the moment, but I always try to catch up on the speakers’ slide-shows, or watch the talks online.

Paul Randall – www.paulrandall.com

Let’s Get Social

Let’s Get Social, it’s the phrase that I use for Social Marketing. I however dislike the word marketing as I find it to ‘in your face’. I believe in being nice and playing nice with the people that you want to connect with and the whuffie (social collateral) will follow. I talked a few months ago to a group of 20+ business owners about brand building using social media tools which went very well.

Today I talked about getting Social to 30ish businesses and how in doing so, they can build their businesses.

Check out the slides below;

Logo design process for Lakeland Mortgage Centre

The logo design project was completed as part of a full branding project. Lakeland Mortgage Centre is a long established mortgage company based in Cumbria, United Kingdom. One of the Lakeland Mortgage Centre partners recently retired and the company transferred to the remaining partner. I was asked to create the company a professional and memorable logo, which both fitted in with an already existing brand and suited the age and professionalism of the company.

Lakeland Mortgage Centre

Lakeland Mortgage Centre had no previous brand, their stationery was produced by a print company and the name was simply typed in blue. I was given free reign to develop something new. With some guidelines and wishes from the client I started the process;

Brainstorming and Sketching

Logo Design process

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Knowing full well that mortgage companies are usually associated with houses for obvious reasons I wanted to move completed away from that association. I looked in to creating a typographical logo, however this wouldn’t necessarily have changed what Lakeland Mortgage Centre had in the first place. I was asked by the now owner of Lakeland Mortgage Company to not use a locational connection with the company as they now have clients across the entirety of the United Kingdom.

As you can see from the photos above there were a few variations of the logo floating around however I didn’t feel like the initial thoughts were hitting the right spot. I looked in to some research on the company owners surname and found the coat of arms (shield).

The reason that I decided to link the two was down to the emotional connection between the company and the client, the partner who now had full control had been with the company for a considerable amount of years.

Somethings are subtle

Sometimes the most subtle things have a lot of meaning. I went in to this process knowing that it would be very straight forward, however I wanted to add something to it to give it that little bit extra.

As soon as the client noticed the blue icon, it was recognised as part of the family crest. Client signed off. Excellent.

Logo Design for Lakeland Mortgage Centre

Logo Design for Lakeland Mortgage Centre

A really good client who left the options open for the design. Sometimes the most subtle of touches go a long way.