Freelancer Friday: 13 Questions with Andy Budd

Who

Andy Budd is a web designer, author, and speaker. People know him for his blog and most notably for his book CSS Mastery. He doesn’t know this, but that happens to be the first book I ever purchased that had anything to do with CSS. I was not let down and you won’t be either.

1. Can you briefly tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Andy. I’m an Aries, age 35. I’m five foot ten tall with short brown hair, brown eyes and an athletic build. I love cooking, photography, travel, and world cinema.

Was that the kind of thing you were after?

2. How long have you been 100% self-employed?

I help run a small user experience consultancy in Brighton called Clearleft. We’ve only been going for a couple of years, but have managed to pick up some great clients and worked on some fantastic projects in that time.

3. What did you do before you took the leap to full-time freelance?

I wrangled sharks for a living. No kidding!

4. Was it an easy transition and why?

There is much less chance of drowning these days, but apart from that it’s largely the same.

5. Can you briefly walk us through a typical work day for you?

Wake up around 7:30am. Shower. Have a nice cup of Darjeeling tea while checking the morning emails. Wander into work around 9:30. My main role at Clearleft is business development and client relations, so I spend most of the day answering emails, dealing with proposals and meeting clients. I’m also the user experience lead so I review most of the UX deliverables that go out of the company, from personas and wireframes, through to visual designs. We also run a web design conference in September called dConstruct, so I’m currently dealing with a lot of event logistics. I usually leave the office around 7pm, but invariably end up doing a couple of hours work in the evening as well. No rest for the wicked.

6. In a typical week, how many hours do you work on the following:

  • Client Work: Depends exactly what you class as client work. But if you’re talking about actual billable time, probably only a day or two a week.
  • Personal Projects: Sadly, none.
  • Blogging: Sadly, none.
  • RSS reading: Very little.
  • Learning: No structured learning as such.
  • Other (describe)?: I spend most of my life in meetings or chained to my email client these days. Probably 50 hours a week of this.

7. For you, what do you think is the best way to attract new clients?

All our clients come through word of mouth. We’ve been blogging for years and do a lot of public speaking. We’ve also written books, which helps with the profile. We’re really passionate about what we do and always do the best job possible. This makes it very easy for friends, colleagues and existing clients to recommend us to their contacts.

8. If you had to list several industry ‘mentors’ or ‘heroes’ who would they be?

Jeffrey Zeldman and Jeff Veen without doubt. Ask Dr web was my first introduction to web design and ALA tuned me into the standards movement very early on. Jeff’s book, “The Art and Science of Web Design”, was the first book that really got me thinking about the psychology and process of web design.

9. What is the biggest blunder you see other web design companies do?

Jumping straight into the visual design without planning the experience first.

10. What is the most under utilized web element/technology in your opinion?

I would say it’s probably user research and contextual analysis. Designers don’t get out there and talk to their users enough. Consequently they build their own prejudices into the system, which only come to light once the product has launched.

11. On the flip side, what is the most over used web element/technology in your opinion?

Flash.

12. Rapid-Fire Recommendations (URL and optional comment):

  • Must read blog (other than yours): adactio.com
  • Must visit website: twitter.com
  • Unusual site you visit daily: I don’t visit unusual websites daily.
  • Most inspirational site for you: I get my inspiration from so many different sources, I couldn’t possibly name a single site.
  • Best site you’ve seen lately: The one we’re building at the moment.

13. If there was one bit of advice would you have for those interested in creating or growing their web design business, what would it be?

Never compromise on quality over cost.

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