Interview with Alen Grakalic of CSS Globe
Most of you are probably familiar with CSS Globe. If you’re not, it is a very popular site run by Alen Grakalic that provides design news (through user submissions) on a daily basis. Alen also publishes some original tutorials and articles on the site.
Around the same time I started blogging at Vandelay Design I came across CSS Globe. Since then it has been one of those sites that I visit several times each week, and the RSS feed has helped me to learn a lot through the content submitted by other users.
Alen has kindly agreed to take some time to answer my questions about his career and CSS Globe in particular. I hope this interview will be helpful to other designers, as well as to those who are looking to build a site as successful as CSS Globe.
I’ve been subscribed to CSS Globe for about a year now. Since then a number of other sites have begun to offer community news sections as supplements to the blog, but for most of the past year the community news has been the focal point of CSS Globe. How were you able to build a strong community of designers that has allowed CSS Globe to become such a strong source of news and resources?
When I started, I first intended to do a local version, for Croatian community only. Then at some point during development, I decided to go global 🙂 On the launch day I sent emails to all of my friends and associates and got 200 members in one afternoon. News submission process began immediately. After almost a year I decided to start writing and that turned out to be a good move since the subscribers number went up from 700 that I had at the beginning of this year to 5800 that I have now. Recently a lot of new members joined in so I expect even more updates from them.
About what percentage of news submissions get posted?
These days, I’d say about 80%. I have to point out that I am extremely satisfied with the way members approach to posting news. It follows the exact idea I had when starting this site. There’s hardly any spam, and those who do post something that has to be rejected, quickly learn on how to make “CSSG ready” post. Also, the authorization process is simple, I go over the unauthorized posts, quickly or thoroughly read the articles and decide if it should be published. It really doesn’t matter who wrote it, so I’d say CSSG is ideal for those who are only starting to write. As long as they have something to write about, of course :).
Do you plan to post your own articles more frequently in the future?
At the moment I am bringing to an end a large client project that took most of my energy (plus there’s my Ironman training 🙂 ) So during last few months I didn’t have much spare time to write. When all that is over I plan to get back to regular writing because I really enjoy it.
Are you primarily earning a living through client work at this point?
Yes, since the bills come regularly I can’t afford to drop out on client work and invest full time to develop a project that might become my main source of income. To be honest, not sure how and when will I move on to making money out of my own projects alone.
Do you prefer client work or managing your own sites?
When I was employed 9 to 5 my dream job was to become a freelancer. Now that I freelance my new dream job is to own one or more sites and make money out of it.
What are your favorite design-related websites and blogs?
I enjoy Smashing magazine, Noupe, Css-tricks, Psd tuts, Vandelay Design blog…
What are some of your favorite sites that you’ve designed?
Css Globe 🙂 Kidding, I rarely showcase my client work publicly for different reasons, so I’ll mention a design that brought back a lot of nice things, and that’s my Css Zen Garden submission http://www.csszengarden.com/?cssfile=155/155.css
What would you say are your strengths as a designer?
When we’re talking about web design, the greatest strength a professional could have is knowing and understanding web related technologies. I don’t think that design skills alone are enough to be a good web designer, more so if you’re going solo. I’d say that my strengths are understanding the idea behind web standards, and some programming skills.
What would you like to improve upon?
At the moment I’d like to improve my PHP knowledge. I coded CSSG from ground up in ASP and I can find my way around it up to a certain level, but I’d like to totally transfer all of my backend coding to PHP.
Thanks to Alen for taking the time for this interview. Be sure to check out CSS Globe if you’re not already familiar with the site.