We've had our share of cool EE-folks featured in our Meta Q&As but Eric Miller just exudes coolness. He used to be an in-house web designer for BMI. He writes for About.com's graphic design section. He serves as a judge for the Webby Awards. Oh, and did we mention he's in Brooklyn?
Read on about how Miller makes graphic and web design just so darn cool.
MQ: Tell us about your work in 140 characters or less.
EM: Eric Miller Design specializes in graphic design, web development, interfaces & ExpressionEngine. We've been creating websites since 1998.
MQ: How/why did you get into the web industry? Why do you stick with it?
EM: I originally designed some websites for local businesses and campus clubs while in college, which led to a web design internship at BMI. That led to a full-time position, which I held for nine years, as the web designer and editor for bmi.com. During that time I started taking on clients on the side, eventually going full-time with my own studio. I stuck with the web industry because it combined my passion for design (going back to painting, sculpting and drawing classes as a kid) with my interest in technology. I love building things that are easy to use.
"Work on your writing skills. If you are going to run your own web business, being a good writer is very important for drafting proposals, preparing contracts, helping clients with content strategy, blogging and even just composing coherent emails."
MQ: Why do you use ExpressionEngine?
EM: I use ExpressionEngine because it lets me be a designer, without limitations, and because of its flexible nature. I can build anything for clients, either through existing add-ons, custom solutions or partnerships within the EE community.
MQ: What was the first EE site you ever worked on? What was that experience like?
EM: The first EE site I worked on was bmi.com, since the company moved to EE while I was working there. It's a huge website with a wide variety of features, many of which required custom development. I'm fortunate enough to still work on that site, now as a consultant. That experience allowed me to see the what can be done with EE, and adopt it as my CMS of choice for my clients.
MQ: What does a typical workday look like for you?
EM: I often start my day off with my "Morning Mix" iTunes playlist. I check Highrise (which I use for project / contact management) for the day's tasks and do some email. From there, I don't really have a typical day as I may be working on current projects, following leads, marketing my business, writing or many other aspects of running a design business.
MQ: How do you stay passionate about your work? What do you do to refocus when you're having a bad day?
EM: What keeps me passionate about my work is the variety of projects we take on. Recent project launches were focused on music, technology and the history of car racing, and I enjoy the challenges that come with working with different industries. If I need to refocus, I'll usually switch to a different type of work. Design vs. coding vs. doing something like writing a proposal require different mindsets. If I'm not feeling creative, I switch gears and come back to something in a few hours. Or, just go for a bike ride or switch whatever music I'm listening to.
What's next for Eric Miller Design:
We're in the process of working with Solspace on the design of their next EE add-on, which has been a lot of fun.
We recently launched an EE redesign of the Songwriters Hall of Fame website at http://songhall.org. I've been working for them for six years, so I was actually redesigning my own work, which was an interesting experience.
I am also the writer of the graphic design section of about.com at graphicdesign.about.com.
My favorite EE site I worked on is:
EM: I loved working on the user interface and user experience design for the new EngineHosting sign-up and control panel. Another recent favorite is the one about the early days of car racing in America, vanderbiltcupraces.com. It allowed me to work with an amazing archive of photos, and in a vintage style that is different than a lot of my current work.
My favorite EE site someone else did is:
EM: CampaignMonitor is one of my favorite EE sites.
If I could change one thing about ExpressionEngine it would be:
EM: The update process for EE and add-ons.
If I had once piece of advice for someone trying to break into the web industry it would be:
EM: Work on your writing skills. If you are going to run your own web business, being a good writer is very important for drafting proposals, preparing contracts, helping clients with content strategy, blogging and even just composing coherent emails.