Interview with Rogie King from SpectrumDNA

Editor’s Note. Due to a slight error on my part, the interview went up with some missing info and changes that were overlooked, and we have corrected the info. Once again, Rogie, thanks for your time, patience, and understanding.

We recently had the opportunity to ask some questions of SpectrumDNA’s Rogie King. Rogie is a web interface designer and developer who works ‘outta his home’ in picturesque Helena Montana. This playful D/D’er describes what he does in the following way, ‘In laymen’s terms, I obsess over pushing around pretty pixels and then use CSS/HTML and JavaScript to make it work.’. For more from this talented creative, check out the interview below.

rogieking

Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?

Quite honestly, my art and design background is uber non-impressive. I don’t have any formal education in design and I’m not proud of it – I’d totally love to goto design school, but, time doesn’t warrant that right now. I received a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. My goal was to be a video game programmer. (go Street Fighter!)

Really, design started as as a love of mine when I was young. I love the art of Disney. On any given day, you would find me pausing Disney movies from “The Lion King” to a recording of “Darkwing Duck” and sketching the characters. It was this love thats driven me back into design. As much as I love the programming I learned in college, I love design even more and it is this innate love that drove me to be an artist (if you can call me one) and a designer.

What are you currently working on (that you can tell us about)?

I designed the UI and developed the UX for memetagger.com – an instance of my employer SpectrumDNA’s [spectrumdna.com] social “nicheworking” software PlanetTagger. However, at the current moment, I am also working on a mobile web application for iPhone/iPod devices of MEMETagger.

For Komodo Media, I am working on my version 5 redesign and a brand new icon set that will hopefully be for sale early 2010.

How much has the design landscape changed since you first began in the field? What are the biggest improvements and pitfalls to come from these changes?

river

I came into design at the tail end of HTML Table based layouts, an overuse of inappropriate Flash use and the beginning of the push toward web standards. CSS galleries were just starting and were needed to raise awareness. The power and relevancy of CSS based layouts needed to be shown to help people transition from the table’s they loved. Foundational libraries like Prototype were in their infancy and as a result coding JavaScript was a huge pain.

I’d say there are two huge improvements. For one, JavaScript libraries such as jQuery and YUI have made our lives all easier. As developers, we now have a single way to use Ajax,find DOM object widths and coordinates, etc. In the same way, the push to standards-compliance has led way to more standard implementations of CSS rules in modern browsers. As a result, our lives are so much easier and the time taken to pull off a brilliant UI is much decreased.

I think pitfalls lie in the areas where technologies are new to us. For instance, with the introduction of better JavaScript libraries, we have faster, more mindless access to animation, but at a cost. Now we are making all of the same animation mistakes that beginning Flash users were doing. Mature Flash developers have now nailed subtle, appropriate animations while us native webbies are in gaudy, inappropriate animation land. We’ll grow up. It’s ok.

What do you feel are the most important skills for a designer to have/develop?

Attention to detail, persistence and commitment to learning and quality. Oh yeah, and the key one: humility.

On your site, Komodo Media, you mention you get giddy over using CSS, what gets you the most excited about CSS3?

komodomedia

I love that once you nail CSS, the possibilities are endless. It becomes so easy to pull off interfaces. I love the set of features being currently added to CSS3 like text-shadow, rgba colors, border-images, attribute selectors and embedded fonts. And yes, yes I do love webkit transitions. I believe subtle animations and transitions do have a place in CSS as a style.

Do you have any favorite websites for interacting with others in the design community? (flickr, twitter etc)

Twitter (@rogieking) is my number one. I use Flickr on a somewhat regular basic, but it never took ahold of me like Twitter. Honestly, I’m a bit oldskool and I really love using Skype. I am known to call designers without notice, asking for critique of my design and sometimes, if they are lucky, serenade them with Little Mermaid’s “Part of your World”.

What is the one design lesson that you learned the hard way that you wish someone had told you about when you got started?

I’d say the hardest lesson has been repeated twice. Many designers have had to deal with this. The lesson is to NOT abandon the discovery phase where you find what the client wants. You may be tempted to start on the design immediately. Perhaps you can see design in your head and have inspiration to start. The simple fact is that the client wants what the client wants. As designers we must use every means necessary to gather their vision and only when we know that vision clearly is when we should start design.

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What does your typical day look like?

7:00 – Help get my wife and two sons going. This means feeding little Jackson oatmeal, apples or whatever and tossing him a few Baby Mum Mums. Get Jameson dressed and ready for his day and give him mega-loves.

7:30 – Get some strong coffee going. Not a whole pot, just a bit of strong strong coffee. One day I’ll get an espresso machine I think to myself. Oh, well, for now I’ll keep this old pot going.

I settle into my chair, still in my PJs, knowing I should take a shower (I read that it’s better to take a shower and get dressed up once on a blog), but I don’t. I fire up Twitter and manically press “Get Mail” in Apple Mail – for the record, I don’t know if I’ve ever hit inbox zero.

At this point, nerd senses are tingling and I’m reading up on blogs or carrying away with whatever fancies my interest on the internet.

8:00 – Coffee’s done. I’ll take it black and in my custom Ryan Labar pottery mug or my wife’s Disney Goofy mug. Time for more reading and general internet merriment. Time flies.

8:30 – 9:00 – I’m working full time right now, so I check in on any tasks I might need to do and get going on work.

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9-Noon – My general habits at this point are to put on my Logitech G35’s and crank up iTunes…LOUD, drink my coffee and focus on tasks. Twitter always gets in the way, so some times I’ll go in “stealth” mode, which means turn off Adium, Skype, Twitter and — basically keep away from anything that will remove focus.

Noon – Lunch time. I pop out of the cave and help make lunch for my babies and wife. We chat a bit about her day and what’s going on with me and work. That’s about it and back to work.

Noon-1 – This SHOULD be the time I go work out. Should. Typically afternoons can get a bit distracted for me. I tend to solve distractions by either having a bit of chocolate or totally following the distraction. Nine times out of ten that distraction is Skyping someone and talking to a very real person. I’m a social bug and this part about working from home grates on me a bit.

1-4 – I tend to get back in the groove and go into “stealth” mode at this time. The same combination of electronic music and drink keep me strong. I switch to water though.

4-5 – I lose my focus toward the end of the day and once again get a bit distracted. My 3 year old is tugging at me and wanting me to play. My wife is trying to pass the 7 month old off for some much needed rest. I love my family so I give in at times.

I gotta wrap up, so I commit any changes done in Subversion and email any last minute status reports needed. Peace out!

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Who would you consider to be the biggest influences on your design career?

Jesus Christ, Walt Disney, Apple Interfaces, the designers for the IconFactory and Douglas Bowman.

What are the tools you couldn’t live without? (softwares, invoicing tools, time/task-management apps, pen/paper, online etc…)

I use Adobe Fireworks CS4 for all of my mockups, icon design, etc, Adobe Illustrator comes in handy when I need to edit illustrator files or convert files to use in Fireworks. Panic Coda is my main text editor/ftp client of choice – I happen to use the websites feature, but not the terminal, preview, CSS or books feature. MacRabbit CSSEdit is my main CSS editor of choice due to its grouping/folder organization and autocomplete for CSS properties. I test my websites and apps on Sun VirtualBox with Debian Server and Windows XP images with IE6, 7 and 8. Sequel Pro is used for connection to MySQL databases and running SQL statements. I dig CloudApp for communicating concepts and mockups to co-workers and clients. FIrebug is my chief JavaScript testing and debugging tool. FirePHP is a killer plugin as well that enables PHP debugging with Firebug.

Other applications I can’t live without are Tunnelblick for OpenVPN connections, CoverSutra , LittleSnapper, Tweetie, Dropbox, Skype, iTunes, Google mail, contacts and documents. I use Blinksale for invoicing and paper and pen for tasks.

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And that is all he wrote…a big FYC thanks once more to SpectrumDNA’s Rogie King. We appreciate all that you do, Rogie.

Rob is the talented author and graphic designer, celebrated podcaster and poet, who is now the co-editor and imaginative co-contributor of Fuel Your Creativity. With a background working through most areas of the arts, Rob works from a creative wellspring that shows no signs of running dry.

 

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