Q&A with Patrick McNeil, Author of The Web Designer's Idea Book

The Web Designer’s Idea Book has finally gone digital. Author and web developer Patrick McNeil recently celebrated the release of The Web Designer’s Idea App, Version 2. With its abundance of inspiration and design examples, the app makes web design accessible for all designers, no matter their skill level or proximity to a computer. We sat down with McNeil to ask a few questions about the app, the impact of the iPad, and being a designer in the digital age.

What is one piece of career advice you wish you’d known when you first started out as a designer?
As I got into design school I came to believe that the only potential job was with an agency. I wish someone had told me there were plenty of other options because I spent a lot of energy trying to make myself fit into roles at such shops. As it turns out I don’t really fit that well into those environments and it took some work on my behalf to see the alternatives.

Did you have young designers in mind when you developed the books?
I wouldn’t call them young, more like real life designers. Few people will get to design for massive sites like Netflix, Google or other high profile sites. As such, I like to keep the people working on the small every day sites in mind. For those people, my books work perfectly as they showcase everyday sites that are beautifully designed.

The Web Designer’s Idea App has just come out in its second edition on iPad. How do you think iPad has changed the world of web design?
Tablets in general created an interesting middle ground between smartphones and desktop computers. They have larger screens, but are touch based. In my opinion this resulted in a lot of the momentum we see around the idea of responsive design. Tablets added enough additional complication to things that designers and developers had to figure out a strategy for building web sites.

What is your most essential tool as a designer?
As strange as it might sound, WordPress is my most essential tool. Were it not for this amazing tool so many things would have to be hand built. The number of plugins, incredible themes and incredible community makes it easy to build almost anything you can imagine. Combine these things with some design work and a solid idea and you can launch just about anything you want rather quickly.

The Web Designer’s Idea App is a source of inspiration for web designers. Where do you look for your own inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes in the form of learning, growing and creating. I find that the inspiration and motivation to do something comes before the need of visual ideas. Things that inspire me to pursue ideas and basically go for it are far more inspiring then any design ever could be.

Do you still read anything in print? Newspapers, books, magazines, etc?
Not much really. The main things I read in printed form tend to be technical books and those showcasing design in some way. I especially like reading technical books in printed form as they become a frequently used resource.

What’s next for you?
I have a ton going on actually! I am the content director for HOW Interactive Design, where I write frequently, my third book The Designer’s Web Handbook is due out next spring, I am about to kick start volume 3 of The Web Designer’s Idea Book series and I continue to work on my own design blog Design Meltdown.

For a chance to win a free Web Designer’s Idea “bundle,” click here before October 31 to enter.


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