It’s one noob after another. Today we check in with Keegan Jones, designer at Firewheel Design and one of the men behind Iconbuffet and Blinksale. Not to mention he also promotes how big of a noob he is on occasion.
Devlounge: Hello Keegan, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Mind introducing yourself for anyone who may not know you?
DL: How did you get started in design? Was it a life long hobby, or just something you kind of picked up on? Did you go through any specific schooling for it?
KJ: Back in 1999, my family got a 400MHZ iMac DV (graphite colored, baby!) for Christmas. At the time, I was in high school and skateboarded a lot. I started editing skate videos in iMovie, and wanted a place to post them online.
One day I was at the library and checked out a book titled “HTML for Dummies”. I installed a version of Adobe Golive (which I wouldn’t recommend), and started aimlessly figuring out how to put together a website. My dad, who is also a designer, brought home a copy of Adobe Photoshop 5.5. Long story short, I wasted a lot of time in Golive and Photoshop and ended up building a website called “Ollie Jones“.
To answer your question, I haven’t gone through any specific schooling for web/design stuff. Most everything I learned from reading books and looking at good design. When I got my first job at Neubix, Ryan Sims was a big influence and helped me become a better designer by critiquing my work.
DL: Firewheel Design, your design studio, is responsible for some truly kick ass products, which I’m sure most if not all of our readership is familiar with in both Blinksale and IconBuffet. What is it like running two successful projects like that our used by thousands upon thousands of people every day. Is it intimidating at all trying to get things “perfect”?
KJ: We have a lot of fun with Blinksale and IconBuffet. Our main goal is building things that we use ourselves, and hoping others will too. Thankfully, it has worked out so far. We don’t worry too much about getting things perfect. It’s easier to evolve by listening what users want.
DL: For IconBuffet, what made you decide to allow users to “trade” free icons [through Free Delivery] with each other? In terms of marketing, has it worked successfully in getting more people to register and / or purchase premium icons?
KJ: For IconBuffet, we wanted to build a community around icons. Trading icons with others is the basis for our social network. It definitely has helped bring more people to the site. I’m actually not sure if the increase in registered users has translated into more purchasers of premium icons.
DL: According to the Firewheel splash at the moment, the doors have been locked while you work on a new project. Is there any way we can pry out any little bit of information about what this new project may involve?
KJ: Mums the word on our new stuff. If it peaks your interest, go to Firewheel Design and enter your email addy. We will drop you an email when we launch (which should happen before the end of the year).
DL: Last summer when we talked to Ryan Sims, The Big Noob was basically turned off. Since that, it’s made a powerful return, most notably with some sharp blue Noob shirts that even you have sported. What brought the Noob back out from the shelf?
KJ: The Noob was turned off because a lot was happening in our lives. Brad Smith and Ryan Sims had just moved to Boston, and I to Dallas. During that transition, we didn’t have time to keep fresh content coming. But life has settled down now, and we are back. Noob power!
DL: Alright, last question. When not designing, what are your other main hobbies?
KJ: I enjoying playing Xbox 360 (currently a lot of Madden ’08), pretending to be a photographer, making silly videos, hanging out with friends, and trying new restaurants.
Thanks for your time!