Pro Billerica Massachusetts



John MacKenzie
Designer Stats
Rank: #272
Points Earned: 363
Member Level: Bronz
Billerica, MA 01821 USA

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Please tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in design?

I became interested in media at 17 when I purchase my first camera a Nikkormat FT2 from Central Sales Music (a pawn shop) in Cambridge.

How long have you been with your company?

MacKenzie Arts & Design has been a name I've used in self-employment for many years. I've been offering web design services as a major source of my income since October 2013 and I officially registered the name as a business in August of 2014.

Are you self taught or did you attend school for your industry?

I have a certificate in web design and graphic arts from Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts.

What web browser do you use?

I test my websites on as many browsers as possible. I'm a MAC user so I build on Safari, Google and Firefox but I also have a PC so I'll test on IE. I also test on Android and iOS for mobile and I'll test Sea Monkey, Opera and Torch. I'll usually test the most recent versions but I'll also try and test some older models and OS as well.

What social media do you use for work and play? Do you have a favorite?

I have LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the web design field?

You can learn a lot about this business online but you will not master it until you've had some formal education and you've spent some time in the field. Then you'll learn that you have to constantly be learning and experimenting to keep up with progress.

What`s your favorite development language and why?

My strength is HTML and CSS - With HTML5 and CSS3 we can now animate and create a lot of things that used to require Javascript and Flash. Now I reserve Javascript for more complex uses and I rarely see flash as a development tool. I use Wordpress as my CMS platform and everything inside Wordpress is PHP. I have some understanding of SQL but just a surface level.

If you could only use one language, which one would it be?

This is a silly question. It's not like a programming language is like a spoken word language. If I speak English I can communicate all my ideas but if I only write in HTML without Javascript, PHP, CSS and SQL I have a very boring website. You need to have a variety of tools to develop a website.

Who is your typical client at the moment and what types of projects are you working on?

I tend to work with smaller companies and startups. I enjoy working closely with creative people who have a passion for their business. Most of the sites I've designed are small Wordpress sites under 20 pages.

What advice would you give a client in order to prepare for a new project?

Content is key. I'm not a content creator - most designers will stay away from writing content. The more images and text you prepare in advance the easier it is for me to produce something that will make that content look good.

What is the most common problem you deal with when working with new clients who do not have much experience with working with designers?

Content isn't "I want a landing page, an about page, and a contact page." That's just navigation. I need every word that you want on the page, every video, every photograph. It's a collaboration - I'm building the vehicle but you have to provide the message. The other thing that's often missing is an identity. Your website should look like your company, logo, building, letterhead, door sign, flag, break room, uniform, carpet, wall color, advertising, packaging etc... If you haven't picked colors, fonts, logo and graphics standards for your company you need to start there first before you attempt to have a website created.

Do you use a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) or any type of project management or proposal software?

I'm currently using VCita for contact management and lead generation but I'm not using a project management software. If I get into a larger scale project where I have to hire someone I have that option but for now it's me and sometimes my wife and one other person on the team.

Do you have a minimum budget for a new client?

The client usually has a maximum budget in mind for me not the other way around. I once traded two hours of Wordpress training for a submarine sandwich.

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