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Damien Buckley is one half (Renee is the other half) of Propeller Global, a one stop web & graphic design studio based in Brisbane, Australia that does advertising, brochures, business cards, copy writing, creative artwork, digital imaging, domain name registration, e-commerce, email marketing, flash animation, flyers, hosting, leaflets, logo design, packaging, point of sale, posters, print, stationery, shopify themes, web design and web hosting amongst other things. Propeller won the 2008 McFarlane Prize for excellence in Australian web design for their Textpattern powered site Pro Plaster Products.
TXPQ What is life all about?
DB If you’d asked me this question 10 years ago, I’d have said money, success, career, cars etc. These days, I’m a bit over it and appreciating a quieter life, enjoying the company of family and friends, taking holidays and generally pursuing a more spiritual and stress-free existence. Running our own business has taken care of most of these aims – we work with who we want to, work on the projects we want to and most of the time, enjoy what we’re doing. Being in control of my life is a big thing for me.
TXPQ What motivates you or makes you ‘tick’?
DB Someone recently described my attention to detail as ‘anal’ and I have to cop it sweet as its totally true but I guess if I wasn’t so anal, I wouldn’t be producing the kind of work I do. I have a compulsion to find out how things work, take them apart, put them back together, see how it works and I guess I’m always looking for new avenues so web design seems to be a niche I’ve settled into which I’d never have expected a few short years ago. Every project has different challenges, whether it be the design, technical side of things or the clients, there’s always something new and different in web design – this keeps me sane as I bore VERY easily. I Love toys too – pretty much anything electronic, so working in web design is great for me – I get to mess with great computers, software etc.
TXPQ You work shows you make consistently high quality sites so why do you think Pro Plaster Products was shortlisted for the McFarlane Prize instead of any others you’ve built?
TXPQ How have you been feeling since you won the McFarlane Prize?
DB We were surrounded by some of the best and brightest in the industry and the standard of the other sites was exceptional, so to win was amazing and totally unexpected. I’m self-taught and having only been in the field for 4 years; to be judged so highly by your peers is awesome. Its a real pat on the back for taking the time to study and do things the right way. I have to give a big thanks to all of the authors whose books have helped me along the way and particularly to Jeffrey Zeldman. Reading ‘Designing with Web Standards’ over 3 years ago set me on this journey.
TXPQ Have you figured out yet why the judges decided your design was the best?
DB That was a question we were pondering all weekend after the result and we couldn’t really figure it out so to satisfy our own curiosity, we asked John Allsopp who organises the McFarlane Prize. I believe the judges may be doing a write up but the short answer is that the Prize is awarded for best practice and apparently we won because we were so consistent – there was no particular area where we were any better than the others, we were just strong across the board.
TXPQ Why is Textpattern your CMS of choice?
DB A lot of the more popular CMS’ tend to have modules or plugins which produce terrible locked markup and this just isn’t acceptableWhen I made the move from building static sites to using a CMS the main criteria was to be able to build valid, xhtml strict code and include the accessibility features I’d already been incorporating in my static sites. I spent quite some time investigating the various options available and Textpattern not only met our requirements, but it just seemed to fit. TXP is intuitive, its structure makes sense to me and I have total control over the markup it generates. A lot of the more popular CMS’ tend to have modules or plugins which produce terrible locked markup and this just isn’t acceptable. Time of course moves fast in web design and there are now far more options. Although there are some things that you can’t do with Textpattern, I don’t see me moving away from TXP for non e-commerce sites for the time being.
TXPQ Which are your favourite plugins and why?
DB I can’t say I have any favourites as such – there are so many great plugins for Textpattern but I have a core set which I tend to use in every site:
and then there are specific plugins which provide the extended functionality required for each site:
- I used ob1_pagination for the first time in this site and will be using it as a replacement for the standard TXP pagination tags from now on.
- I have to thank Gerhard Lazu for glz_custom_fields and Sandor Weisz for stw_category_tree – both of which were critical to storing the multitude of product specifications and facilitating the display of the product categories / sub-categories.
- I also combined hak_article_image with Thickbox to drive the multiple product image display.
Textpattern Solutions is a fantastic bookBefore I close, along with the whole Textpattern development team and plugin writers, I’d like to thank the team behind ‘Textpattern Solutions’; Nathan Smith, Robert Sable and Kevin Potts (along with Mary Fredborg and Cody Lindley). Textpattern Solutions is a fantastic book which helped me to understand TXP on a much higher level and I keep it close as a quick tag reference at all times. I enquired recently as to whether there would be another TXP book but sadly this isn’t likely to happen as there was such widespread piracy of the downloadable PDF version. This is a shame as it’s a great book and I for one would love to see another edition, updated to reflect the changes in TXP and more advanced applications of the CMS. I’m doing my bit by providing every site owner with a copy but I would strongly urge the whole Textpattern community to buy a copy and get behind it – its an invaluable resource.
TXPQ Your high quality work is great for your clients, Damien, and is raising Textpattern’s profile too. Long may it continue! Very well done for winning the McFarlane Prize and thank you very much for the interview.
Categories: Web Designer