With an early start in the field of design and development, Brandon Clapp was learnt a lot, given a lot and contributed a lot to the design and development world. His talent and skills have put to good use through a range of projects and clients. I got the opportunity to shoot him a few questions to get to know just how this powerful designer/developer's mind works; here is what I learnt, so pay close attention.
Tell us about yourself. What inspires you, what drives you and what challenges you.
"My name is Brandon Clapp, I’ve been doing web design and web development since I was about 12 years old (which has been about 10 years now). A lot of things challenge me every time I start a new project. When you start a new project, you never know what problems you might run into. Web development is a matter of adapting to your problem and finding a fix. There’s a saying “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”… You have to figure out which way is going to be the easiest and most efficient way to fix the problem. I’m inspired by learning and challenging myself. If I’m not challenging myself, then I’m not learning, meaning that I’m not improving my skills."
What did you study/are studying and which path led you to what you’re doing now?
"Everything that I know or have learned about graphics design, web design, and development I have learned on my own. Over a 10 year time span I’ve come an incredibly long way. After high school, I did go to school for a few semesters for network administration but all of these classes were focused on computer hardware, server configuration, and networking. I do plan on going back to school in the spring for a bachelor in computer programming."
How would you describe your style? How has this style developed over time?
"I like to keep things simple. The more simple a website or project is, the easier it is to use – and the end user loves to be able to easily use something. Although some aspects of a website are extremely hard to develop or integrate, I always try to keep the front end of the website simple, professional looking, and user friendly. Larger companies who have a million links on their pages frustrate visitors. Learn from their mistakes. I don’t design anything for a client that I, myself, would not use."
In your opinion, what is the secret behind or biggest contributor towards your success?
What is your design formula that you use when designing for a client?
"First, it’s important to have a good understanding of what the client wants. The client may not be sure of what they really want. I have them fill out a form (downloadable from my web design firm website) and email it to me to have a better understanding of what they are looking for. After we have a meeting discussing what will be included on this website and a general understanding of how they want it to look, I make a draft of the design so that they can approve it. I usually let them change it up to three times before I finalize the design and convert it over to the CMS theme (whether it be WordPress, Drupal, or Magento)"
Where do you go to find inspiration/what do you do to get inspired? Where do you turn for creative inspiration – nature, travel, books, the web etc?
"I’ve ordered a lot of books over the years for learning new languages and different things relating to design and development. For inspiration, I usually just ask myself “What would I like”. If I would like it, chances are others will too. You can’t please everyone – but if you wouldn’t like something that you created, why should anyone else?"
What are you most proud of professionally?
"Having the ability to run my own business and find business is exciting."
What would be your dream project or dream client?
"I haven’t really put a lot of thought into that. The best clients are those who are more concerned with the quality of the final project than the deadline that the project has to be completed by."
What/who is the most memorable client you have ever had, and why? What did they require/ what services did you provide them?
"Ingram’s Water and Air Equipment is a company based out of Paducah, KY who I have worked with for the past 2 and half years. In this time frame, they have entered the INC 5000 for the past two consecutive years (5000 fastest growing companies in the U.S.). I’ve done numerous projects for them and they are pleased with the work that I provide."
What do you feel about the current state of the design industry. If there is one thing you could change what would it be? What is the one thing you admire about the design industry?
"Everyone uses the CMS that they feel most comfortable using. Everyone has a “weapon of choice” as I like to call it. Some people choose WordPress. Some choose Drupal, and some choose Joomla. I like the idea of learning one system really well and allowing it to fit all of your needs for all of the projects that you encounter."
Which designer do you admire the most, why and what does that person mean to you in terms of design?
"I really don’t keep up with other designers… I focus on me. I don’t think I could even name another designer."
What advice can you give up-and-coming designers/ what is the most important thing you have learnt in the design industry?
"Stick with it and learn from the ground up. Learning how to design and code complex things doesn’t happen overnight. The languages are like building blocks. Start with the easiest and build your way up to more complex languages. If you are focusing on design, take the time to learn CSS. After you learn it, master it. "
What is your design mantra/motto?
"I won’t build anything for you that I wouldn’t use myself."