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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

I interview Andrew Disley

Andrew, thanks ever so much for taking part in this interview so close to Christmas.

1. Full Name and Age please. 🙂

Andrew Disley, 23.

2. Favourite Biscuit and Drink.

Biscuit: Chocolate Shortbread. Drink: Latte with extra shots.

3. Last Book you read and last movie you saw.

Last book: Double Cross by James Patterson. Last movie: The Dark Knight.

4. Where and When did it all start?

My passion for the web began during my early high school years, I remember first being introduced to Google a few months after it launched by one of our teachers and I even remember the excitement I got while waiting for music to download using the original Napster which just amazed me, I was hooked. I spend all my hard earned paper-round money on our Dial-Up connection and it wasn’t long before I began to play online games like Counter-Strike. I joined gaming clans which inevitably got me into designing and building sites for these clans. I started out in Frontpage but soon found myself hand-coding the HTML because I didn’t like the “ugly” markup that Frontpage produced and much preferred to know what was going on under the hood. Professionally my career started when I was offered a job a local firm JJB Sports Plc looking after their websites.

5. Is there anyone in the industry who you look up to?

Lots of people, many of the people I’ve worked with in the past and many of the well-know names along with local folks I know through GeekUp and the likes. There are way too many people to list here.

6. What was a key factor in your professional growth and development?

It would have to be the time at Code, learning form the people there and working on high-profile accounts. I’ve also a real passion for what I do and the try to achieve the best possible outcome for whatever it maybe I’m working on.

7. Where does your heart lie, with design or development? And why.

Development, from an early age I loved taking things apart to find out how they worked and rebuilding them.

8. What was it like working at Code Computerlove?

Scary and quite intimidating at first, I’d never been around so many amazingly talented people before who had such love for the industry. Fantastically awesome people, and some great projects but there were some tough deadlines.

9. What was the biggest project you worked on whilst working there?

I’ve worked on some really big accounts and projects over the years at Code, but I think the biggest and most testing had to be the rebuild of HMV.com in July/August 2007.

10. Throughout your entire career to date, is there any particular problem you’ve ran in to more than once? Clients, Jobs, Work?

The biggest problem I find myself facing is taking on too much, not just on the web work front. I’ve got that balance right, I think. I do still find myself pulling all nighters to meet deadlines. It’s the other projects I get involved with that stretch my schedule.

11. What do you consider to be the biggest contributing factor to your success?

Dedication and support from my family and fiancee, Kerry.

12. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Primarily online via the blogs and showcase sites, looking at what people are doing and how they’re pushing things technology wise.

13. As we all know you’re a mac man, what are your 3 favourite apps?

I’ve many more than 3 favourite apps but if I had to list only 3 it would have to be: TextMate, Quicksilver and YoJimbo as they are the most used apps on my machines.

14. What made you want to go full time freelance?

The flexibility, I found there just wasn’t enough hours in day to do my full-time job at Code and all the extracurricular projects that I take on. There were times when I could really do with taking a day of at short notice which you can’t really do when you work for “the man”. In all honesty there still isn’t enough time, but I can at short notice shuffle things around.

Role: Design and Development

15. How do you balance your time between your different businesses?

It’s tough and I think I’m doing a decent job of it, although if you ask my fiancee I’m sure she’ll tell you otherwise. When I do figure it out, I’ll let you know the secret.

16. Where do you see the future being?

I want to grow my freelance portfolio and I’m also in the process of teaming up with a few other awesome minds and in the not so distant future we’re hoping to launch a couple of things.

17. Are you heading to any conferences over the next year?

Hopefully, I’d love to make it to Reboot this year, along with a few BarCamps and there are talks of a local live streaming of TED via the TED Associate Membership.

18. If you had one goal to reach (anything) within 3 years, what would it be?

I’ve recently got engaged and it would be absolutely fantastic if in 3 years time we’ve tied the knot and bought our first home together. That’s more than one but I put them both under the heading “building the family”.

19. If you had one piece of advice for anyone wanting to venture in to the your industry, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there a lots of offline and online communities around that have members who are very happy to offer advice and support.