Featured Site: Interview with Type/Code Creative Director Zeke Shore

We're on the hunt for interesting and creative sites to share with you as featured sites here on the Digital-Tutors blog. Type/Code, a digital agency in Brooklyn, NY, has a site that features a clean interface with a sweet animated landing page. Interviewing a web designer or developer about something they created for themselves, not someone else, can provide a lot of insight into his or her processes, especially since there isn't a specific client to please. We interviewed Zeke Shore, a founder and the Creative Director at Type/Code about typecode.com and design work.
Thank you for talking with us! Could you start tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Type/Code is a digital agency based out of Brooklyn, NY. The founding partners met at Parsons School of Design while exploring the intersection of design and technology, and we really enjoyed designing and building stuff together, so we decided start a studio. Our team is pretty evenly split between folks with a design focus, and folks with a development focus, but we all live somewhere along the designer/developer spectrum. We love projects that let us take a deep dive into content and product strategy, and then design, develop, launch, and iterate on awesome digital experiences.
How do you design differently for print or the web, if you ever have to do so?
We are primarily a digital studio, so a lot of our design process is tailored to the web as a core medium. One way that we look at web design differently than print is that on the web we are usually creating a “living” system rather than a static artifact, which introduces a whole bunch of unique opportunities and challenges.
Q Can you tell us a little bit about the animation of your logo on the landing page and how and why you created it?
Our name, Type/Code, grew out of our fascination of where design and development meet, with both typography and code serving as core building blocks for our discipline. That presented an opportunity to play with the interesting juxtaposition between the organic curves of our logotype (drawn by the wonderful Lucas Sharp), and a kinetic and malleable explosion of pixels. The final experience embodies the quick one-liner of what we do: we design things and make them come to life. To execute this, we started with a square-packing algorithm that fits progressively smaller squares into the form of our logo– basically ‘pixels’ that we could then animate. We created an initial prototype in Processing, and then recreated the current 3D version in Canvas/WebGL so that it would run in web browsers. Concept aside, it was also a really fun opportunity to see what was possible with some brand new technologies in 2012.
Q Can you tell us why you guys decided to change the order of your team members on your "About" page when the page is refreshed?
The order is randomly generated every time the page loads because we have a very flat internal structure– everyone on our team is bringing something unique to the table, which means we all have to be leaders at various phases of our projects.
Q If you were giving advice to a brand new web designer, what would you tell them?
Design fundamentals around communication strategy, typography, form, layout, color, pacing, etc. will transcend any specific area of design – including the web, so that will always be important. Since web design specifically is incredibly young as a discipline, and evolving at the same speed that technology is, there is a unique opportunity to always be questioning and iterating on common patterns.
Q What was your favorite part of creating typecode.com and what about it are you most proud?
This being such a personal project made the process rewarding, but challenging (we are our own harshest critics). It was a great opportunity for us to reflect on who are, what we do, and how we want to present ourselves.
Q What software programs did you use to assist you?
Initial designs were mocked up in Photoshop and Illustrator, but we like to move into code as quickly as we can to continue solving things as a fully responsive layout. On the development end of things, a text editor is primary tool (most of us use Sublime).
Q How difficult is it for you to create responsive sites? Do you have any workflow tips?
The more we do it, the more intuitive it becomes – but there are always surprises when something makes the jump from a couple of static mock-ups into a living, responsive experience on different devices. This is why we like to move into code as early in the process as we can, so that we can continue to massage things on a malleable canvas, and avoid design decisions that ‘break’ in certain contexts.
Q What did you find most challenging in the design and development of typecode.com?
Being your own client can be tough – it’s easy to justify one more round of design exploration, or push that launch deadline out one more week. On the development end of things, performance for the splash experience posed some interesting performance challenges – we ended up dynamically adjusting the number pixels that get rendered depending on the user’s processor power, and degrading to a 2D version on older browsers (if you press the ‘D’ key while on the landing page, you can toggle between the 3D and 2D version).
Q How do you continue to learn and grow in your craft?
We are always keeping our ear to the ground and absorbing everything we come across. The digital design community is very good at sharing stuff, so we love to peek under the hood of what folks are experimenting with – which is one of the great things about open web technologies.
Q Can you talk about the decision to display your portfolio with your work on different devices?
Most of our projects were designed to work well across a range of devices, so we wanted to showcase that in how we presented our case studies. Our general rule of thumb these days that “responsive” is not really a feature any more – but rather just the appropriate way to design and build most digital experiences.
Q Is there anything else that you'd like to add, or let our readers know that we may have forgotten?
It is an exciting time to be a designer or developer, with the disciplines merging and evolving so quickly. Watching and experiencing so many “ah-ha!” moments (and utter failures) in digital design over the past decade is both humbling and empowering. As software continues to “eat the world,” it is amazing to be able to leverage such powerful communication and product design tools, among a community that is collectively learning and improving.