Today I am kicking off a series of interviews called ‘5½ Questions with…’ with noteworthy people around the interwebz on the topics of design, business and social media. The first interview in the series is with Paddy Donnelly. Rather than introduce him I’ll let Paddy do it himself. Enjoy.

Who is Paddy? How did he come to be? And what exactly is he doing in the far-away land of Belgium?

I’m an Irish UX designer working for Nascom in Belgium. I previously studied Interactive Multimedia Design and an MA in Multi-Disciplinary Design in Belfast and then took off to the land of beer and chocolate, obviously. In my spare time I’ve been known to write the odd article or two at I Am Paddy.

Paddy's blog

You’ve studied design at both under and post graduate level. Do you think it’s possible for Average Joe to become a kick-ass designer without having a formal design education?

There are kick-ass designers with degrees coming out their ears and there are kick-ass designers with no education whatsoever. I can only speak from my experiences and I know that my design education (especially by the @Standardistas) was invaluable and had a lot to do with getting me to where I am today. The education you get from the real world, however, is priceless…

To answer your question though, I would have to say that no the Average Joe could not become a kick-ass designer. The Average Joe is not passionate, motivated, hard working and willing to learn. A designer needs these factors to even have a chance of getting there, regardless of education.

It needs to pop.

Like most people in our industry you seem to enjoy the design conference circuit. Which events have you attended and which would you have no hesitation in returning to? Can we expect to see you speaking at one of these conferences in the near future?

Absolutely. Any excuse to meet up with the usual suspects over a beer, oh yeah and hearing the odd inspirational talk too. :) Recently I’ve attended Build, DIBI, dConstruct and even a bit of FOWD. Build, DIBI and dConstruct were fantastic and I’ll definitely be returning to them. I’ll be heading to Simon Collison’s New Adventures Conf in a couple of weeks too, which should be fantastic. To be honest, right now I much prefer being an observer and not having the pressures of speaking, but you never know it could be a possibility in the future…

Same For You podcast

Twitter has radically changed how we interact with each other and is probably as revolutionary as Email itself, have you any predictions as to what’s next?

I wouldn’t class Twitter anywhere near Email in revolutionary terms. It has changed a lot of how we interact and I find it hard to imagine how I could function comfortably without that constant stream of ‘live’ information, but I have no idea what the future will hold on the Internet. It’s hard to tell what’s going to pop up on the net this afternoon! Email will certainly outlive Twitter though.

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Do you think social media threatens the web design industry as more people and businesses are quick to adopt these tools because they are free, easy-to-use and familiar, thus failing to see the need for an expensive web site?

It all depends what the client needs. If all they need is a small blog or Facebook page then the easy-to-use tools are a great advantage for clients that would normally have either a poorly produced website or none at all. Things like Posterous, Twitter and Facebook are raising the standard of web presence for many companies and in turn raising the expectations for clients that require something larger and more extravagant. I don’t think that there will be any shortage of interesting work for talented web folk anytime soon.

Most people have a book that changed their life, the way they thought or even just how they conducted business, what’s yours?

The Godfather by Mario Puzo.


Thanks Paddy for taking the time to answer my questions. If that’s left you wanting to know more then you should follow @paddydonnelly on Twitter.

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