Give01Day is a London-based charity focused on providing charities help with their cyber security issues. Today we sat down with Hemang Patel, Web Designer and Co-founder of Give01Day to learn more about his job.
Hi ! Thanks for being with us! Please tell us all about your work as a web designer?
HP: Thanks for having me! I’ve worked as a web designer for over 14 years now (I started at the tender age of 12!). I’ve grown and evolved as a freelancer through the various phases of website development – from Geocities and .20m.com, through cutting up PSDs, to Twitter Bootstrap, and beyond. I’ve now bought into a company where I now overlook a team of 6 web designers. I spend my time mostly giving creative directions to the team. I love creating cutting edge designs and advising other companies with theirs! We do a lot of white label work, which can be a shame as we can’t scream and shout about clients, but we work with some internationally known brands.
What does your average day look like?
HP: As a freelancer, there was no average day! That’s why I loved it! Having said that, I do have my routines! I get a 5.30am start, do some exercise and meditation. Then catch up on tech news and the various web design blogs I follow. Then it’s down to business – I’ll have a look at my board from the night before where I’ve already laid out my tasks for the day. It might be some graphic work for a brand, or it might be some actual coding. Throw in some client meetings, and my ‘close of play’ routine (which essentially consists of me planning the next day) and that’s about it!
What 3 design resources do you monitor every day?
HP: Well, I visit Smashing magazine, The UX Booth and UX Magazine religiously, I then have to trawl through them again to find the article or showcase, but it’s well worth it! Design wise, it’s interesting how the principle behind something I saw on these sites plugs a creative block. I’ll be working on a design, and get stuck on what to do next or how to fill a particular space and I’ll suddenly remember something awesome I saw on one of those sites. I then have to trawl through them again to find the article or showcase but its well worth it! They are also great for validation and ensuring you are keeping to or are at the forefront of design trends.
Do you ever collaborate with and within various teams when building a website?
HP: All the time! There are times when I might find something too challenging or tedious and I don’t have the time to do. When that happens I’ll ask someone for help.
Do you believe it’s better to work within a company or to go freelance in this industry?
HP: It depends on the individual. Some of my best friends who freelance work overnight and they are wildly successful and creative during those times. So working for a company is out of the question for them. For me, working within a company can be both liberating and confining at the same time. It’s liberating because you don’t have to worry about invoicing, and other issues. Instead, you can focus purely on what you love doing! You could sit there from 9-5 just designing and building funky things all day! However, It’s confining in some ways because you are stuck doing projects which you may not have taken on as a freelancer. So companies can be quite frustrating, but it’s also fun to be part of a team! To answer your question, though, it really depends on the individual!
What’s your opinion on working with images on websites, and how important do you believe them to be?
HP: Images, for me, make a website! You could have the cleanest, simplest website but without powerful imagery your website just won’t engage! Now of course there are exceptions to this, but in 99% of cases I think the right imagery can make a whole website.
What made you decide to become a web designer in the first place?
HP: When I was 12, my cousin came over to my house and showed me a website he had made for his GCSE in IT. That was the hook! I remember thinking how cool it was that he had made a whole website! It was only a simple 5 page site, but back then it was on the cutting edge side! I’ve been dabbling in web design and creation ever since!
Wow, that’s really young! How old were you when you started working as a freelancer?
HP: I was 15 when I made my first paid website as a freelancer though it was flash! I really started getting jobs thrown at me when I was about 17.
Did you always want to become a web designer? If not, what did you want to do?
HP: Nope! I actually wanted to go into satellite technology! Then a physics based course. So naturally, I went into Finance! All the while I always wanted to carry on doing websites for people, because it’s something I genuinely enjoy! In fact, it paid for my university degree… and my masters!
As a web designer, what tools do you use to find images? Do you use photo stock or try to use unique images? If so, where do you find them?
HP: I really hate stock images with a passion! If I use stock imagery it’s only to build the basis for something different. But I always ask clients to get some proper imagery sanctioned.
What are your 5 most important design principles?
HP: – Simplicity
– Focal Point
– Contrast / complements
What makes these principles so important to you and why?
HP: Well simplicity is the biggest one for me. I love designing things to a super granular level. Most people don’t even pick up on it but I really enjoy taking the overload of information which you usually get from a brief or brand and translating that into something overtly simple. The devil is in the details here though, so alignment, finding the right focal point, all while using the right contrasts and spacing brings it all together. My mantra on this is an amalgamation of Da Vinci – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and another quote from Douglas Horton – “The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.”
What 3 tools do you use to find images?
HP: For inspiration I’ll use Google Images and Flickr. But if I have enough time I use Dreamtime and Shutterstock for stock images.
Any words of wisdom to anyone who wants to start freelancing in web design?
HP: Ooooh, words of wisdom! That’s a difficult one! I would have to say, be prepared for a ride. There are so many highs and lows so you need to be confident in your own ability and your own design philosophy.
What advice would you give new web designers, who want to get engaged and noticed by large brands or media?
HP: For web designers trying to court larger brands, I would say the most important thing is to network! More importantly though, network with everyone because the local corner shop owner might have a cousin who is the CEO of a nationally growing brand who just happens to need web design! Being nice to everyone certainly has its own reward, but for freelancers I really think it can help. Apart from that, obviously make sure you work on your personal brand – get on to social media, be a fountain of knowledge, and generally get your name out there!
What are the best 3 countries for web design in the world?
HP: I would say the UK, Serbia, and Poland.
What makes these 3 countries the best for web design and why?
HP: Haha! It’s a bit of a biased answer in fairness, some of the best designers I know personally are from the UK, Serbia and Poland. Designers from these countries just seem to constantly surprise me. I can’t tell you the number of times I see something which blows me away, and after some research I find it was designed by someone on one of these countries!
A huge thank you to Hemang for his time!
Follow him on Twitter at: @Hemang1
Also check out Give01Day on Twitter at: @give01day