Web stars speak
/ Interview with Todd Purgason
Todd Purgason, creative director of Juxt Interactive
Todd Purgason is the Creative Director for Juxt Interactive, a web design studio based in Southern California, specializing in Internet strategy and Flash-based interactive web sites.
Juxt Interactive work has been highlighted in several publications and books around the world including PDN-PIX, I.D. magazine, Commarts, HOW Magazine, Create Online, Lynda Weinman's Inspirations and others.
The work Juxt has completed has earned a number of awards, including the Clio Award, the How Magazine's International Design Competition award for Outstanding Design, IPPA StudioONE and DesignONE Awards, the Communication Arts Magazine Web Site of the Week, and the High Five Award.
Under Purgason's creative direction, Juxt has been honored with 12 Macromedia "Site of the Day" awards and has been featured in several product galleries on Macromedia's web site.
In addition, IPPA has selected Purgason as one of today's top ten web designers in the world.
Purgason, an author and regular speaker on the subject of interactive web design. In addition, he has contributed to a number of books including Hillman Curtis's best selling book, *Flash Web Design*, *New Masters of Flash* by Friends of Ed; *'Flash Studio Secrets* by IDG and *The Flash 5 Bible* by Hungry Minds.
Newly released book: *Flash deConstruction*
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/ How were you first introduced to the internet?
/ Do you remember your first impression of the internet?
/ You are an *internet pioneer*, what exactly does it mean?
I guess it means I got here early and staked out my ground when there were still bears and wildlife around.
/ Looking at your track record, you have a *multiple path* career. Why?
I started out as an architect turned to graphic design and then to interactive media kind of like a pinball machine not multiple path.
/ What was your initial profession?
/ Describe your present professional activities and why you chose it?
I am the Creative Director for Juxt Interactive a Southern California design studio specializing in internet work. I chose what I do because I love design and I believe in interactivity as a communication medium.
/ Describe the path how you became a professional designer.
Self Taught and still learning. Lots of books!
/ What is your favorite designing material. Why?
Flash It is good technology for the internet and it can be very powerful as a communication tool if used correctly....and it is fun too.
/ When and how did you discover Flash?
I first saw Future splash in 1996 and although the examples were deplorable I thought if put in the right hands it could be amazing.
But it was an obscure plug-in as soon when I heard Macromedia bought it I bought it the next week and I knew it would rock the web.
/ Explain why you chose to explore flash production and the artistic processes involved.
Well, when I first started with it the average user had a 14.4 connection and we were so anal about file sizes back then that we were always on the verge of a nervous break down every time we created even the smallest animated gif.
But then comes flash and we can actually fill the whole screen with color and design for almost nothing file size wise. On top of that we can make it animate, on top of that it streams, on top of that we can build interactivity, on top of that we can add sound, on top of that we can use any font we want, on top of that we don't have to have those nasty html page jump transitions. All this in just version 1.0.
Give me a break, you would have had to tie me down to keep me away from it. Now 5 versions later we are opening XML sockets to the server and dynamically sending data back and fourth on the fly, doing Playstation Game interfaces, doing TV commercials etc., etc., etc., and html thanks to Jacob Nealson is headed back to 1997.
/ What makes a good project?
Good Client, Solid content and a lot of guts on both the clients part and ours.
/ You are a creative head. When did your love of visual art start?
When I was a kid in grade school I used to doodle all the time and draw and I was also intrigued by branding I used to hang clothing tags on my walls... pretty sick I know.
/ What do you look for when hiring creative talent?
Creative Talent! A good mind Good skills Good work ethic and whole lot of passion.
/ How do you promote your talent and land gigs?
The web is great for bringing in clients we get over 100,000 visitors a month and several job opportunities every week.
We also develop marketing CD's as mailers and other such materials. We have a Biz Dev guy that just started with us to go after certain clients we want to work for.
/ How do you sharpen your talent?
I design as much as I can and I love books and photography and architecture.
I have an unpublished personal site that I play with when ever I can get to it (which is rarely).
/ What makes for a good web site?
Creative employment of design and technology built around solid content that speaks to the target audience on their level and lets them take action in response to what you are trying to say.
That is very generalized but you get the picture.
/ How did you first get involved in content publishing?
The web projects we have.
/ Are you involved in cross-media publishing?
/ What makes a good team?
Trust and understanding of how each member works.
How does that thing go again Form, Storm, Norm: it takes time but if all the players are solid the team will be solid after an adjustment period where every one learns how to work together and trust each other.
/ What makes a good storyboard?
Visual representation of what is planned to be executed laid out in a way that can be used to explain how you will execute and why this direction is the best plan of action to meet the clients objectives.
Never present anything you can not live with.
/ Describe what is *inspiration*.
Food for the creative soul!
/ Describe what is a top-notch client.
Open minded but strategic, Confident but not an ego maniac, Trusting but not complacent, and RICH! ; )
/ How do you protect clients from their own bad taste?
We prefer to present one concept as opposed to multiple concepts we may develop more but we show the one we feel is the best solution. And we always remind the client of the strategy.
/ How do you protect clients from their own ignorance?
We educate them in a tactful way. They are rarely ignorant it is just that they are inexperienced in some things just like we are in many, many things.
The best relationship is one in which we teach them and they teach us. I have never had a project in which I did not learn many new things.
/ You have been invited to many web related events. Can you tell us why?
I'm good lookin! ; )
I guess since I got involved in the business early and had some good clients that let me take a lot of risks I got a lot of experience that many others would like to have exposure to.
So I get asked to write and speak and teach, it is not that I have special DNA it is just that I have been around the right blocks with certain things.
Also My partner Steve Wages is a gifted presenter he taught me how to present and I guess I do it well enough to be asked back.
/ Explain the value of peers recognition.
It feels good but you have to love the doing of the work or it is a waste of your time.
The recognition is nice but it is the passion to create that is what it is and should be about. It helps draw more business and better client work as well so it is definitely good for the Brand.
/ Is branding an important issue online?
A big problem is that many sites are done through IT that is often clueless as to what branding is.
Even savvy advertising agencies often do not really understand how to brand on the web. Interactivity should reflect the brand values as well as the visual language and the content. If done right It can be hugely effective.
/ What was the catalytic thought that gave birth to Juxt Interactive ?
Passion to do good work for people interested in using the internet to evolve there business.
Design is a tool, Technology is a tool, Branding is a tool, Strategy is a tool, we are mechanics of communication.
/ Describe what the internet means to you.
Communication and interaction with other human beings.
/ Describe 3 qualities necessary to succeed online.
I guess sex, drugs and rock n roll are taken (just kidding)...
Content, Creativity, Purpose (not quite as dramatic).
/ What is the single achievement that makes you most proud?
Personally: my kids.
Professionally: The people we have been able to bring together at Juxt.
/ If there were no budget limitations - which single dream project would you launch?
http://Shorn.com -> site is offline!
/ Give a one line counsel to newbies.
Never forget that your brain is your best tool and that you can achieve your dreams if your willing to pay the price for them.
/ What is your opinion of the present situation in the dotcom industry?
It kinda sucks.
To many people are loosing their jobs because to many of us were intoxicated with the possibilities of the net. It is normalizing which is painful for many and then it will grow again but at a much more rational rate. We are doing pretty good because we service traditional brands mainly and we are not over inflated in size and investment capital.
It will mellow soon and we can all get on with our lives. It was getting pretty ridiculous some guys coming out of school were getting $100k to start for some shops as designers which was way out of control.
Now things are more real you have to earn what your worth not just demand a high wage because so many companies are fighting to out grow each other.
/ In your view, explain what is convergence?
I don't believe their will be convergence, I think TV will get a heck of a lot smarter and interactive but it will be TV and that computing will get more experiential but it will always be computing.
The advertising model will not converge thus the mediums will not converge. Do you really think advertisers will give up the strong hold that a commercial has on the viewer in favor of a banner ad.
Get real! That is just my jaded opinion (but then again I don't actually watch TV haven't for 15 years)...
/ Is the www an international network?
Absolutely, we get a ton of traffic every month from all over the world especially Asia and Korea.
/ Tell us what the future (net) looks like.
Looks like a lot of different things. The net will grow to support many kinds of content, interaction, community and devices. I believe the browser will disappear in the near future and that personal filtering will be a big part of how we interact with the net.