Michael Dick is a web designer/developer for nclud, many readers may be familiar with his work. I recently had the opportunity to ask Michael some questions about his experience and his work. I think you will find his answers to be helpful, and at the end of the post you’ll find some links that will allow you to connect with him if you’d like.
Photo by Patrick Haney
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name Michael Dick, I’m part of the team at nclud while also tackling a lot of personal and freelance projects.
My roots are from a traditional web standards background, but as of late I’ve been putting most of my effort towards expanding into general interface design. Whether that be for the web, iPhone and/or Mac platforms — I really don’t like to limit myself to just the web anymore.
As a designer/developer, how did you go about developing a well-rounded skillset?
Developing my skillset was a snow ball effect; if I needed something done I taught myself and did it myself. I have minimal education in web design and design so it’s safe to say that the work I do is mostly accomplished through eyeballing every detail. Taking a step back and asking “how it makes me feel” goes a long ways.
What type of work/projects do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy all different types of projects; what makes me decide one from the other is how much it inspires me and gets my creative juices pumping. I’m an inspiration fanatic; I’m always searching to be inspired.
Do you do freelance work in addition to your full-time job?
I do, but I’m very picky about which projects I take on. Like I said earlier, the project needs to inspire and excite me enough to keep my interest. Along with freelance, I also have a few personal projects I’m working on right now.
What do you like about working for an agency rather than working independently?
I enjoy both atmospheres, they both have their advantages. Agency life is more social, there’s a lot of collaboration going on when I’m in the studio with nclud. However, independent life is less social, but gives you the flexibility to choose what you want to work on and where you want to work from.
Working for an agency like nclud gives me the flexibility to work like I work for myself — especially since I live in Oklahoma and they’re in Washington DC. It’s a perfect fit.
What advice would you give to other designers who are deciding between working for an agency or going out on their own?
If you want to work for yourself, then do it. Don’t make excuses waiting for things to “be right” — take the risk. If it doesn’t work out you’ll always be able to jump right back into the agency life.
There are only three things I can tell you before you take the jump:
1) Make sure you have the financial means to stay afloat for a few months.
2) Make sure you know how to market yourself.
3) Know where to look for [quality] gigs if things get slow.
Your portfolio site has received a lot of love from design galleries and blogs. Has this had any effect on the number of inquiries you receive or on business?
For the most part, no. Most of the traffic I get via design galleries are usually inspiration junkies (like myself!) who send me a quick email to tell me they appreciate my work.
You developed your own content management system, PureEdit. What was your motivation to do so, and is it something that you continue to develop?
PureEdit is a unique twist on content management, it’s not meant to be an out-of-box solution, but it’s aimed at the hybrid designer/developer who wants full control over their website but needs a system that will allow their client to still manage the content. It gives the designer/developer full control of the front design and coding.
I use it on all my freelance clients so each project allows me to develop it further. However, I have paused public releases because I have bigger plans for it in the future.
One of your own projects is CSS iPhone. What would you say are the most important characteristics of effect web design for mobiles?
Translating and carrying the desktop experience over to the mobile device. The key is to pick and choose which elements can be reused or translated to fit the mobile screen and execute it.
Are there any designers or developers that have had a major influence on you and your work?
Cameron Moll and Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain have been inspiration ever since I stepped into the web standards movement. They both have great talents, are successful businessmen, and also live well balanced family lives.
If you’d like to connect with Michael he can be found at: