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Steve Swanson

User: snapcount
Date: 8/14/2006 3:06 pm
Views: 7228
Rating: 20    Rate [

Age: 29
Location: Madison, WI
Profession: WebGUI's designer guy
Favorite Color: Green and blue


In what way(s) do you contribute to WebGUI or the WebGUI Community?

I'm the graphic designer for PlainBlack, and in turn, WebGUI.

When did you first hear of WebGUI?

About 2 years ago, but I didn't really start working with it until last year.

How and when did you get involved in WebGUI?

Around fall of last year, I was looking for a new job.  Through a friend, I had heard PlainBlack was looking for a graphic/web designer.  I applied, went through a pretty rigorous interview process, and got the job.
Are you paid to work on WebGUI?

That I am.

How much time do you spend on WebGUI?

Well it depends on what's going on with WebGUI.  If you asked me this during the thick of getting WebGUI 7 off the ground, I'd say about 40+ hours a week. Now that it's slowing down, my time gets more spread out.

What do you think is still missing from WebGUI or the WebGUI Community?

Although I really love working with WebGUI, there are still things that could be done to make it easier for designers to use it.  There have been some huge steps to make it more accessible, especially with 7.0, but I'm always thinking of ways to make my job easier which in turn will make all designers jobs easier.

What keeps you motivated to keep working on WebGUI?

I get to design some cool stuff working on WebGUI, more than I would working for a giant faceless company.  Some of the features of WebGUI and new projects associated with it push me to become a better designer- I can look back at my old work and think that I could do better if I did it again today.  That's a good feeling, although it tends to keep me busy. :)

What's WebGUI's killer feature and why?

Templates.  I think people take them for granted, but man are they ever powerful.  I've worked with classic ASP, .NET, .JSP, and .PHP, and although they do give you a whole lot of tools, none of them really have this on-the-fly ability to swap out the way a page looks and feels with just a few button clicks.  And it's all completely customizable, you've gotta love that.

If I had to pick a second thing, it's just how much you get with your standard WebGUI install.  Polls, message boards, logins, restricted content- you would pay a developer a lot of money to get those features, and they freakin' come with a base install of WebGUI.  How cool is that?

What's WebGUI's greatest weakness and why?

The learning curve.  I think for new users, it's daunting.  I've worked with other designers who blanche at having to learn this whole new system, especially since it's quite different from what they're used to.  This is especially true if the extent of their website building knowledge comes from using a WYSIWYG editor like Dreamweaver or Frontpage.  Some of the features that come with WebGUI aren't very obvious to most people, like ecommerce, so that's an area that needs work.

That said, give a designer a week or two using WebGUI and they're hooked- not to sound like a fanboi, but I honestly don't want to make websites on anything except WebGUI.  It's just so much easier.

What makes you work on WebGUI over the competition?

I think I kinda covered this one already, but it's just easier.  There's so much available right at your fingertips.

What's your most brilliant WebGUI hack?

Being a designer, not a coder, I can't say that I have a real WebGUI hack. But, I love snippets.  If you're still uploading an external CSS file to control your site's look and feel, stop it.  Start using a snippet instead. That's only one use for them, but that started my love affair with them.

Have you attended the WebGUI User's Conference?


Where do you keep your Gooey doll?

Believe it or not, I don't have one!  JT, take one of those storage Gooeys and float it my way.

EDITORS NOTE: Steve has since received his Gooey... all is well now =) 

Personal Stuff


How would you describe yourself?

Pretty geeky.  That's good or bad depending on who you ask.  Overweight- the switch from working at a grocery store to working on a computer hasn't been a good choice for my body.  Picking up 50lb boxes of spuds takes a lot more effort than double clicking, don't let the brochures fool you.  I like to think I'm a decent guy, but from my experience those who say they're decent people usually aren't.  So hey, take it with a grain of salt.  Oh, and if I could have dinner with anyone in the world... it'd probably be either Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, or Richard Dean Anderson.

Are you married, dating, or otherwise involved?

Married for almost 7 years.

Do you have any kids?


Do you have any pets?

Yep, a Papillon named Deedlit (bonus Karma for those who know who know that reference! j/k).  She actually has been bugging me to go out while I fill this form out.

If someone visits your area, what's something they must see or do?

Come over and hang out.  Working at home can be a lonely affair, so I've gotten this weird thing about wanting to hang out with people when I can. Don't worry, I won't lock you in my basement.  Well, probably not.

What do you hate?

George W. Bush, businesses that are too ginormous for their employee's good, Uwe Boll, and ignorance.

What do you love?

GAMES!  I love pencil & paper RPG's and computer/console games.  It may sound cliché, but my wife ranks pretty high up there.  I'd even put her above a +5 Dancing Longsword.

What's the last book you read?

Sadly I haven't read a book in months, but I suppose it would be the Key of Light.

What's the last CD/MP3 you bought?

I just bought 'Video Killed the Radio Star' from iTunes.

What's the last movie you watched?

Cars.  Decent movie, although not Pixar's best work.

You're stuck on a train/plane for 6 hours and bored out of your mind, what do you do to amuse yourself?

I'd pull out my DS Lite and start playing some Super Mario, or I'd listen to some music on my iPod, or watch a movie on my laptop.

Any last words?

Thanks to everyone who's been using WebGUI, you've been keeping me employed.


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