Plethora Design [cvoogt]
What is your specialty?
Custom-designed content management systems using Joomla
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
Originally: architecture and graphic design.
What has been your professional career path?
I studied architecture and worked as a designer in architectural offices while gaining experience in multimedia such as 3d modeling and interaction design. I then went solo as a web designer.
Have you received any awards for your work in the field of design?
Yes. The most prestigious was for http://www.armitagegonedance.org. It won a DesignFirms award in June 2006, alongside the official site for Casino Royale, a Bond film.
What is your motivation? What makes you get up in the mornings?
Coffee, and interesting projects and challenges. I like complex challenges and finding effective ways to handle them.
How would you define your design style?
Modern and minimal. Less is more, but not if it's at the expense of beauty. I do believe in using colors and photos for visual effect even if they're not necessary performing a function, as long as it adds something. The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.
How do you promote and move your work?
I lot of my work comes through word of mouth, but I also bid on projects at DesignQuote.net sometimes. I also offer free estimates at http://www.plethoradesign.com and get a fair amount of work that way.
You can find me on the first page of Google by searching "award winning web design".
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
Flash interfaces for Joomla
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
I collect photos that relate to the project, and make rough mockups with Photoshop, to explore color options using usually just a single main color and a secondary one. If the client has an existing logo or site, that may be used to inspire the new design. I try to come up with something that hangs together with the concept behind the customer's business.
What are your sources for documentation and to generate ideas?
Various sites dealing with web design, especially Alistapart.com, where I have also written an article.
Which festivals or awards in your field do you find most interesting?
Dutch and Japanese graphic design shows and competitions.
What is your favourite type of customer?
One who wants to be actively involved in the project without becoming overly involved.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
Hardly. At most I might use one of my previously designed layouts as a starting point for a new project, but only if it saves a lot of work. Afterwards it still has to be reworked to fit the new requirements.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
Overuse of serif fonts, overcapitalization, poor use of grammar, too many colors, unnecessary bells and whistles.
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
Well, since I'm the newer generation, I certainly hope so.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
One who expects too much work up front.
How do you calculate budgets for a design project?
I have a standard quote that I adapt for each bid. I estimate based on my hourly rate and make it a fixed quote.
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
Adolf Loos, the Bauhaus movement, Jeffrey Zeldman, and various folks at alistapart.com.
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash, and occasionally Illustrator and Fireworks. Also, Excel (for monitoring hours and expenses) Word.
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
All the way through, but they also reflect the customer.
How do you distinguish passing fads from mainstays in new trends?
I look at how functional sites with the new trends really are. Just because something is "Web 2.0" or uses "Ajax" doesn't mean it's better. Just because something's possible doesn't mean it's desirable.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
I'd probably be a travel photographer or geologist.
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
A large informational site for an organization or company, without too much customization needed.
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
That's hard to say since the field changes so fast. I may not like the field 20 years from now.
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?
What is your specialty in the interactive world?
Joomla / content management systems
Where can we see some of your work online?
What kind of projects do you usually undertake?
Primarily converting existing sites to Joomla, or designing new CMS sites from scratch.
What was your first job in the field?
I have been freelancing full-time since 2005, and from 2003-2005 I freelanced on the side.
What is your professional background? What did you do before?
Architecture. I have a Bachelor of Science in Architecture (from Georgia tech), as well as a Master of Architecture from Princeton.
With which technologies do you normally work?
What is the secret to keeping customer expectations under control in interactive development?
Regular feedback to and from the client. Keep them informed of the status of the design, without giving away too much information, which could lead to overloading them unnecessarily.
What was your first computer, and which is your current?
My first was an HP Pavilion desktop machine, in 1998 or so. My current one is a Toshiba Satellite laptop.
Online virality: isn't it the same as traditional word-of-mouth?
No, it's word-of-mouth to a power of ten.
Do you think the digital gap is a social problem? What would you do to accelerate digital literacy?
It's only a problem when it starts to impact people's lives. You can't eat "web", and in some places a computer is most useful for breaking open coconut shells. However, it can be a way for remote areas to get connected to the global marketplace. The bigger problem is the protectionist trade barriers that "developed" nations insist on.
What were you doing in March 2000, at the height of the "dotcom bubble"?
I was finishing my architecture degree at Georgia Tech and working part-time in web design.
In the current interactive world, what is the most relevant trend?
I think mobile internet access (on cell phones). In Japan and parts of Europe this is already very common as a primary way of accessing the web.
What do you see interesting about the Web 2.0 phenomenon?
It is getting people more involved in content creation. Content is becoming more of a dialogue than before. The media is no longer a one-way stream of information.
What would you do to terminate Internet spam once and for all?
Ignore it, report abusers to the authorities when possible.
Will bandwidth one day cease to be a limitation?
In some places, yes, in others it may always be an issue.
Sterling, VA, USA