Blog Entry

Interview with Matthew Scheuerman

Matthew works at Southwest Student Services Corporation as their web designer and yes, I met him at Refresh. He’s amazing with Flash and you can check out his personal site and blog at Mordecai Design.

How did you get started as a web designer?
I had taken a few web classes when I first attended graphic design school, but I didn’t have any strong inclinations to become a web designer. I started learning Flash durring that time and I loved it but didn’t think that I would take it farther than using it on a few random projects. I tinkered with a few web sites durring my school years but I really didn’t get serious until a few years after I graduated. After school I worked at a snowboard shop for about 1 year and then at a crappy phone support job for about 2 years. When I wasn’t on the phone I was trying to hone my skills as a graphic designer. I didn’t have Photoshop on my work computer so I dove into html and css, and hand-coded everything in notepad. That was a great experience for me, it eventually led to the first version of my site. After that I realized that I really enjoyed web design and I used almost every minute I could to learn everything I could and to apply that to my personal projects. I eventually got noticed by a local company and was hired as a web designer.

How long have you been working as a web designer?
Professionally, my first web design job was in Sept. ’03. So I’ve been a fulltime web-designer for about 3 years now. If you count the time before that that I was tinkering with different sites and trying to get experience, I guess it would be 6 years.

What part of your job do you like the most?
Changing people’s perception of the web. This typically means using Javascript and Flash, but I try to use anything to my advantage. If I can engage the web-user and show them something that they havn’t seen before or didn’t know you could do on the web, then I’m very happy.

What was the first website you ever built?
I built a website in my first html class, for a great little company in Wyoming. It was the only site in the class to use flash (Just on the splash page…it was all the rage back then). Unfortunately the dotcom crash came and the company eventually closed, so the design was never used.

What’s the biggest mistake or hardest lesson you’ve learned as a web designer?
Communicating with clients/colleagues. I continue to have problems with this and I know other designers do. Keeping the client in the loop can avert SO many problems. If you’re just upfront and tell them about the problems you’re having with a project, They can sometimes make a suggestion or make a choice that will make your job easier and allow you to deliver the project on time.

What’s the most helpful thing you’ve learned?
Only about 1/3rd of being a designer is skill/creativity. The other 2/3rds is filled with misc. stuff like business savy, grammar, writing, public speaking, and history. Don’t let your inner geek get in the way of being a well rounded person. I’ve had to learn to look at the world around me, watch great speakers like Steve Jobs or Guy Kawasaki, write as much as possible, learn to communicate better, and watch the stock market.

What is a typical work day like for you?
8:00 – Arrive at work, Read Digg and my daily list of blogs and web design news.
9:00 – Start working on the daily projects.
11:30 – Leave for lunch
12:30 – Back from lunch, work on a personal project or something fun to get my mind going again
1:00 – Work on the daily projects
3:00 – Do some flash research for an upcoming project
3:30 – Work on the daily projects
4:30 – Try to finish up the daily projects and start planning my night
5:00 – Head towards home and run some errands
6:00 – Get home, work on some research for work projects
7:00 – Work on some freelance while watching Heroes or Lost with my beautiful wife Shalin
12:00 – Go to bed

What are some sites that you visit daily or regularly?
I visit yours 😀 Besides Digg I visit the following everyday and PRAY that they update their blogs:

Aaron post’s Blog, Highly Obsessed, A Snowboarding Blog, Daniel Davis’s Site, The Duh-Mension: a blog about living in New Zealand, and Simon Roger’s Blog: an amazing background painter and illustrator. His storytelling abilities through his work never cease to amaze me.

Any other words of advice for new web designers?
For you new designers right out of school…don’t get discouraged about getting a fulltime gig. You might come in at bad time when the economoy is in a recession…like I did when I got out of design school. I got into the “web design game” just when the dotcom crash ended. It took 3 years for the economy and employers calm down and for me to get my first fulltime gig. But it was all worth it.

Most design magazines teach style over method. Don’t read them religiously. Take what you can from them and apply the methods to your own work/style.

Save Backups, Save Often, and Save your life. Use some form of Version Control.

and finally…remmember the words of Han Solo:

Great, kid! Now don’t get cocky!

1 Comment
Leave a Comment