In the world of web development and design, creativity does not have to come from a person who does this for a living. The beauty about this field is that it allows anyone, willing to learn and give, to turn out great websites and code that even the pros could learn something from. Today we have the opportunity to meet such a person, Ozh, creator of scr.im and of so many useful WordPress plugins.
Q1. You are the "One" on SingleFunction this week, so, who are you really?
I’m Ozh, 37.05 years old, father of two, husband of one. I live in France and work for a mega corporation in a job that has mostly nothing to do with computers.
Q2. What made you start web development/design in the first place?
I began making static HTML websites in 1996, for fun and friends, and about various topics. In 1998 I created a site that quickly grew into a vivid community news site, so uploading a new page every night by FTP was getting seriously cumbersome and frustrating, I really needed something faster, easier, and that would allow readers to interact and comment. So I started to learn perl and coded a home made CMS that still powers the site today.
Q3. What inspires you?
I’m currently obsessed by simple apps with uncluttered simple interfaces, naive and colorful designs. This is part of my recent Twitter addiction
What inspires me really is when I want to do something and realize there’s no way to make it as I want. This happened with scr.im when I wanted one day to share my email on Twitter, this happened also with every WordPress plugin I coded.
Q4. What’s a typical day for you?
Get up at 7:00, hug the boys in their beds to wake them up, check my mails & blog comments before shower, eat, spend an hour in front of my computer in pajamas and with a toothbrush in my mouth before I go to work. From 9:15 to 18:45 I’m at work where it’s as boring as it can get, with hopefully a nice paycheck at the end of the month. Back to home at 19:00, spend time with my kids and wife. It’s around 21:00 when I can sit in front of my computer and have some time for myself till, usually, way too late.
Q5. How does your "Command Center" look like?
My home office has 2 computers, one for my wife and the kids to play and surf the web, and mine for everything else.
My desk is usually totally cluttered with random stuff (messy, but clean: *no* dirty greasy stuff like food) but it’s been rather clean for a couple of weeks now. I’m not sure why
You’ll see on my desk: a spare camera I lend to kids, my iPod nano, USB thumb drives, CD, DVDs, various cables, papers and pens, my PDA docking station, the DSL router, a webcam so kids can Skype grandma on week-ends.
I guess this is really the average home computer desk, except maybe for the old school CRT monitor. This one is brand new, my awesome 19′ Hitachi died a couple of weeks ago. This is for the sleeping hardcore gamer inside me, I dislike flat screens, they’re too slow, too ugly.
Q6. What operating system do you use?
My main box used to be a high end gaming computer but I stepped out of this a couple of years ago. I’m running Windows XP with no fancy stuff and the minimal number of services at startup.
Q7. What’s the programming language you are most comfortable with?
Q8. What’s your favorite tool/IDE?
I don’t like fully-fledge IDEs like Eclipse, they’re too complicated and bloated for me. I’ve been using Notepad++ for the last 4 years I think: tabbed interface, function list, and the best syntax highlighter I’ve found.
Q9. How do you start a new project?
An idea pops into my mind. I start coding and re-use a few things to a point it gets functional but messy. So I pause things a bit, try to do some sketches and flowcharts, but after a few minutes my patience has gone and I want to code again
Q10. What’s your design philosophy?
My goal is a balance between dead simple (one task, no option) and feature packing (many options). As a user, I like powerful and very flexible apps with a gazillion of options, but I know a lot of users are easily confused or intimated, so I always try to imagine what the average user would like, dislike, understand or not. The Wife Test is something I like to do because sometimes it really highlights something I would definitely overlook.
I’m also more prone to releasing stuff earlier than before. A couple of years ago, I would publish something only after every little details was polished and exactly as imagined. While I think I did a good job, it makes things more difficult to re-arrange or to implement differently when users want something you didn’t think about.
I try to think differently now: release an app with core features, and wait for the public to ask about extra options. This way, I don’t implement things that are eventually not used, and I also have more feedback from users about how they’d like their additional feature, which might differ from my need.
My little web service over at scr.im was recently a very interesting experience. I did show friends and wife an alpha version and watch how they would use the interface, what they would click or not, what they would think would be an option, what if they would understand in a glance what the app would be about. Even after release, user feedback was rich and fostering.
Q11. What was your first website?
Back in the days when websites were mostly “home pages”, my first site was in 1995 or 96 a wicked awesome page hosted on Compuserve. I was a real hipster at the time: scary background picture, l33t sp34k, tags, and enough animated gifs to crash my 28.8k modem connection. Those too young to remember can google for "JeffK", my site was something like the first result will show.
Of course, the purpose of that page was just to show I had a page on the internet.
Q12. What’s your favorite creation?
As of today, this would be scr.im because it’s the first time I really release something *simple*. Plus, the design is cute
In the long run though, my favorite creation would be the online gaming community site I founded FrenchFragFactory.net. It really gathered a number of exciting people and events, and I met invaluable peeps through it. When I’m old, I’ll remember this more than any of the WordPress plugins or other fun websites I’ve done.
Q13. What’s hot now and you would like to let everyone know about?
I think the hottest stuff on Earth actually is Twitter, but I guess no one needs this information
Q14. What’s next?
What’s next with me: I have several WordPress plugins under way, but nothing I want to advertise at this point. I’ve also began coding a service related to Twitter that should be fun. I think people should follow me on Twitter to know more
What’s next with the world: I don’t know. I’m not one of these inspiring visionary people who can predict what will be next
Q15. Being the One, what’s the one advice you would give to the wannabes out there?
Well, "the One", that seems a bit too presumptuous
As a coder, my recurring advice has always been: read sources. Reading open source code teaches you how to do things, shows how to do them differently and sometimes better than what you had in mind.
Thank you Ozh for giving your time to answer the questions of this interview, and I wish you all the best.
Here are some links to get inspired by Ozh’s creations and design:
Featured in SingleFunction Showcase – Click Here to Vote
Featured in SingleFunction Showcase – Click Here to Vote
Online gaming community (French language)
- WordPress Plugins and Other Projects
Code and WordPress Plugins
And for those who need to get in touch with Ozh, either leave him a comment here, or connect with him at the following sites:
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