Nerd Profile: Joel Parr


What’s your title or role at GSD&M?

Jack of all digital trades aka Digital Developer aka Front-end Developer.

What’s your association with interactive and new technologies being developed for GSD&M’s client roster?

Digital ideas will often come through me in order to define their feasibility and how they can actually be produced. That includes everything from making early recommendations from a best practices point of view, to providing input on design/UX/IA and then working alongside both designers and developers on the actual execution, production and launch of the work itself.

How important is it in understanding how a user views and navigates through the web?

Having an understanding of how your users will approach, understand, interact with and use your digital product is just about as important as it gets on the web. As discussed below, there are an awful lot of resources out there to help us with this.

How can we stay relevant or fresh when designing for the web?

The web changes so fast, both from a technical and creative point of view that to stay relevant, it’s important to follow the industry closely using whatever tools you have at your disposal. Thankfully the services that are available to help us with this seem to move just as quickly as the technologies and trends themselves. From browser bookmarks to blogs, RSS feeds, social bookmarking, Twitter, App.net and Google Now, we don’t have much of an excuse for being out of touch.

When it comes to how we digest the information we get from these tools, in both web design and development it’s important to separate trends from best practices. Recent web design trends such as heavily skeuomorphic design and so-called “flat design” come and go and can result in generic work if followed too closely. Likewise, development trends such as parallax scrolling and “Flash-style” immersive HTML5 experiences that subvert the way that the web and browsers work, will eventually see their popularity wane too. However, the growing collections of UI patterns to assist in designing solutions across a variety of devices and public, open source code repositories such as Github are important resources for us to embrace in order to build on the collective results of the brightest minds in the industry.

Ultimately, when we’re designing and developing for the web, good work that incorporates design fundamentals and embraces the limitations and uniqueness of the web itself will always win-out.

What is it that keeps a user engaged in a site? In a brand?

Having a very clear focus and set of requirements for what you actually want to achieve goes an awful long way. Add to this well thought through user experience design, well-executed UI thinking and smart front-end development techniques to pull it all together. Having a fast, reliable and solid back-end platform powering it all behind the scenes can help elevate the user-visible portion of the work to even higher levels of satisfaction and engagement – see Instagram as a case study for this.

When will androids start playing sports. Who would your favorite robot athlete be?

Well, Big Dog has already evolved from cross country running (on ice…) into an expert hammer thrower. Terrifying.

Follow @joelp on Twitter.

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