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Noah Stokes – Design Studio Founder

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Noah Stokes is a founder and partner of Bold, a design and development studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today he’s talking with us about his career, his projects, his inspiration and why mobile is like the Wild West right now.

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Noah Stokes is a founder and partner of Bold, a design and development studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today he’s talking with us about his career, his projects, his inspiration and why mobile is like the Wild West right now.

1. Hi Noah, would you please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Noah Stokes. I’m a partner at a web studio in San Francisco called Bold. I do design and development and a few things in between. I’ve been working in the web world for nearly 8 years after coming out of an engineering background with companies like Apple and Palm. I absolutely love what I do.

Bold - A Design & Development Studio

2. What are your main skills and how did you learn them?

When I first got into web, I desperately wanted to be a designer. But I was horrible. So I went with the next best thing, and began working with brilliant designers, doing the front end development for them. Over time, my skills grew and I moved further into development, doing backend work using PHP and MySQL and moving from there into CodeIgniter. All of that time however working with great design did help me to build an eye for design, and now that’s something I enjoy doing as well.

3. What keeps you interested in your work and why?

The web world is constantly changing; programming languages and interfaces are evolving, mobile is like the wild west right now, it’s all very exciting. There is something deeply satisfying in working on a project and being able to push it live to the world at any time.

4. You’re doing lots of personal projects. Could you pick two and tell us some more about them?

frvnt IPhone FRVNT (pronounced fervent) is an online prayer tracking tool. It allows users to keep track of prayer requests, and to join in with others praying for their needs. FRVNT started as a personal project, something I saw a space for. It’s been refreshing to see others using and enjoying it.

Clicoon is a private social network. It mimics what something like Google Groups does, or what Facebook does, but with privacy. I built it to keep my inbox free of clutter with all the back and forth emails between my friends. What I ended up creating was a central hub for my friends to share photos, music, notes all in a protected environment.

5. What gives you inspiration for your projects?

Most of them come about because I see a need for a tool that I would actually use myself. I have a pretty tough internal filter, so if it makes it through that, I think that I could be onto something useful. Other times, I discover a new technology, and want to find an excuse to put it to use.

6. Please give our trainees some tips on how to successfully plan and implement their own projects.

All of my personal projects have always taken 2-3 times as long as I have projected. This is usually because there are areas that pop up during development that are things you simply didn’t consider and so you need to make sure that you accommodate those needs. A good flow chart of the entire user experience really helps to flesh those areas out. Give yourself ample time, and don’t take shortcuts. A project is a learning experience first and foremost, each successive one will lead to better and better work.

7. Which project that you have ever done – personal or jobwise – are you most proud of?

Method and CraftI’m pretty happy with the results of Method & Craft. This is a project I did the development on, teaming with Phil Coffman for the design and idea. It was a simple, yet challenging layout and a blast to build out and implement in ExpressionEngine.

8. Which websites inspire you, or have inspired you personally or in terms of work?

I don’t have any specific sites that I go to for inspiration, but design that is simple, and clean but has details that are subtle and understated is what gets me going.

9. You are founder and partner of a design and development studio. How did you get the idea for that and how did you go about it?

I had been working as a freelancer for a few years and my work load was simply getting to large to manage on my own. At the same time, Garrett St. John, my business partner, was doing the same thing. Our strengths compliment each other as Garrett is a back-end genius, and I handle the front end work, it only made sense to pull our resources and partner up. We merged our two businesses into one, called it Bold and have never looked back. We’re just recently hired our first employee (Mike Meyer) and our small studio continues to grow.

10. Could you please share some tips with our trainees if they want to open their own design studio?

The biggest fear of starting your own studio has to be finding new work. If at all possible, it’s best to start with a few retainer clients, or a few large projects that can get you going for a few months. Contact any and all past clients and let them know your intentions and see if they would want to partner with your new studio, you’d be surprised at some of the responses. If your work is good, the clients will come to you.

Noah, thank you very much for this interview!

If you want to know more about Noah Stokes, have a look at his personal website or his design studio Bold.

Want to learn how to make awesome websites yourself? Why don’t you check out the web design courses we offer at Web Courses Bangkok?

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