After getting immense response from our users on the first interview with Moosa Hemani, for our next interview we approached Jacob Gube, the man behind Six Revisions.
He is the founder and chief editor of the blog. In addition to this, he pursues his passion for front-end development and designing. His precious talent and knack for design and development has inspired his industry fellows. He loves to communicate and share valuable knowledge about his field with users all over the world. Let’s learn more about his personality and his views on the current and upcoming web designing trends.
Abbas: Hi Jacob! First of all thank you so much for taking your time out for this interview. Let’s begin with your introduction. Can you tell our readers what were the factors that led you towards this industry and what initial expectations you had with Six Revisions?
Jacob: I found myself in web design and web development by chance; I didn’t grow up wanting to be a web designer/developer.
My journey really started at a young age, when I was about 14 years old, which is considered early in the generation of Web professionals I fall under, but not in today’s standards. That year, I got a hand-me-down laptop from my dad (an upgrade from the Internet cafes I found myself in), and I found myself in an HTML and Macromedia Flash class in school. That was the beginning of my lifelong passion for technology, and specifically, Web technology.
When I went to college, I taught myself how to use Photoshop and Illustrator because I wanted to create Flash games and things like CD covers and business cards for myself and for my friends.
I then used that knowledge to freelance as a graphic designer. I worked with small businesses and non-profit organizations, designing their logos and print materials (business cards, letterheads, the like).
This happened around the time when the people I worked with realized they needed a website to remain competitive in their field.
My existing graphic design clients would come up to me and ask, “Hey, can you also make me a website?” Being youthful, confident, and dangerously ambitious, I’d say “Yeah, sure, no problem!” even though I didn’t know at the time if I had what it took to build professional-level sites.
I learned the most important aspects of building websites while building websites. I was fortunate enough to find a handful of people — my first web design clients — willing to give me the chance to grow and improve. I am, to this day, extremely thankful for the risk they decided to take on me.
That experience as a freelancer helped me land a part-time job as a web developer, which became a full-time job later on.
Six Revisions was born from of those experiences. I wanted an outlet for talking about the things I learned while building websites.
I had no expectations about what Six Revisions would become. It took me like a couple of hours to set up the site. In under a day’s work, I registered the site’s domain name, installed WordPress on a shared hosting site (using up some of the money I had earmarked for rent), wrote my first post and clicked on the Publish button even before the sixrevisions.com DNS fully resolved to the web host. I didn’t really think things through. I just sort of went with it with no idea of what would come out of it.
Abbas: We know that a website is the first step towards creating an online presence. Therefore it is important that it should be well designed to meet users’ expectations. What factors do you consider before or during the design phase?
Jacob: There are many factors that come into play when you design a website, and the factors change depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
The most critical step you need to take in a traditional commercial website production project is to determine what the site’s primary goal is. You then create the site with that goal as your guiding light.
A site’s goal might be to increase the online or offline sales of a certain product by a certain amount, or it might be to improve the number of installs your mobile app is getting.
You can have several goals, but there should only be one primary goal. One goal that’s more important than the others.
And all the people involved in the site build must agree unanimously that that’s the goal of the site. You must make a promise to each other that that’s the goal you’re all going after. If you can’t reach a united decision on what your primary site goal should be, you’ll need to modify one of two variables: the goal or your team.
When you have a singular objective, the design process becomes simple and it’s tailored to the specific needs of the client. You end up with a great product that does one thing very well, instead of a mediocre product that’s trying to do too many things.
Abbas: You are ranked amongst the top-notch web designers in the industry. But is there any personality in the industry that influenced you the most?
Jacob: I’ll be the first to contest that I’m ranked amongst the top-notch web designers in the industry. I think you’ve got your information all wrong!
There are many people I admire and look up to. There are many people that inspire me.
One person I respect as a web designer is Jan Cavan. She’s someone who creates wonderful designs. She’s also someone who’s really had to earn her place in the industry, someone who’s had to work more than most to get to where she is now.
She started at a small, unheard-of outsourcing company in a small city you probably didn’t know existed in a still-developing country. She didn’t have an abundant amount of resources and opportunities like many of us do. But her situation didn’t stop her from preserving; it didn’t dissuade her from continuing to build awesome stuff, it didn’t discourage her from sharing tutorials and articles and from distributing freebies to help her colleagues.
Now she’s in California — if there was one place I had to call the Internet technology capital of the world, California would be that place — working at purposeful startups like SendGrid and NationBuilder, and speaking at the industry’s top conferences like Future of Web Design and Build.
In this industry, you truly reap what you sow. For others, like Jan, the journey is a bit more arduous and the mountain to climb much steeper, but you’ll get to wherever you want to be if you go about the journey with purpose.
Abbas: In the beginning, no one really knew about Six Revisions. But, today, it has become a famous brand in the arena of web design/development. What promotional techniques did you experiment for your blog?
Jacob: I don’t do any paid promotion. I focus my efforts on publishing the best content possible instead. My time’s better spent working with our contributing writers — the people who actually make the site what it is now. I also prefer talking to Six Revisions readers directly — through the comments, through emails, through social media — rather than through ads or by hiring a professional to do this for me.
At the start, Six Revisions got a ton of traffic spikes through social news and bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, Delicious, and StumbleUpon. These sites were the foundational sources of site traffic and readership.
Abbas: When you talk about different web related fields, each field has a vast scope and it keeps changing with time. The same philosophy applies to web design/development. Tell us how you perceive the future of web design and what challenges do you think will be faced by designers and developers working all over the world?
Jacob: Web technology is now firmly planted into our way of life. This will continue to progress in the future. Everything will be connected — your coffeemaker, the bed you sleep in, your toothbrush, your clothes.
The challenge designers, developers, and technologists face continues to be the same regardless of the medium in which they wish to address it with: How can we make people’s lives better through design and through code?
Abbas: Nowadays, many websites have been built by using updated and enhanced designing techniques. For instance, parallax scrolling websites, responsive web designs, etc. Can you name a few websites that really inspired you?
Jacob: This is an extremely tough question. I see hundreds of well-designed sites and web apps on a regular basis so it’s hard to narrow it down to a few. Currently, I’m really inspired by Medium, Digg, Karma’s landing page and Stripe’s landing page. Ask me next week and I bet my answer will be completely different.
Abbas: For a designer or a developer, it’s important to have versatile artistic abilities and technical skills. What are the foremost qualities that you think a designer and a developer should possess?
Jacob: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many bright, innovative, and talented designers and developers from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances.
I’ve also been a witness to great Internet technology innovations throughout the past few years.
Despite of how things tend to rapidly change on the Web, and regardless of how diverse the people who help build it are, there’s one unifying quality I see in all successful designers and developers. A quality I can only describe as an intrinsic desire to make the world better through design or through code. An undying passion for trying to make a meaningful change in the lives of others by way of technology.
When we think of success in the Web industry, what often comes to mind are news headlines about how an Internet startup company was acquired for half a billion dollars, or the number of Twitter followers a particular designer has, or the number of stars an open source project on GitHub has.
What we often neglect is the story behind those numbers.
The people behind Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google, open source projects like WordPress, Rails, and Bootstrap didn’t do it for those numbers.
They didn’t create things simply because they wanted to see a bigger number when they checked their bank accounts or when they looked at how many followers they have on social media.
They are insanely passionate designers, developers, engineers, and technologists who do the things they do because they firmly believe they can make a difference in this world.
Those numbers are a byproduct of their efforts, not the objective.
Abbas: This may be an odd question but I always wanted to ask you … What is the actual message behind the name Six Revisions?
Jacob: The name of the site was just something I came up with very quickly. It isn’t something that has an elaborate story behind it. The idea of multiple revisions comes from my experience as a freelance graphic designer. I’d often iterate several times on my initial design concepts — I’d revise them. Why “Six”? It sounded good at the time.
Abbas: In the end, would you please give some valuable suggestions to the young generation of designers who look up to you as a web designing maestro?
Jacob: Make learning a habit. You have the capacity to make yourself better today compared to yourself the day before.
Build things because you want to solve a problem that other people have, not because you want to solve your problem of how you’re going to pay rent next month.