David and Marc Perel are the team behind online TV Show From the Couch, design blog We Are Not Freelancers and design company Obox Design. I invited the duo to discuss some of their ideas and inspirations behind their sites, find out a little about their backgrounds in design and development and to see what plans they had for the future.
You have established a good web presence from blogging from We Are Not Freelancers and From The Couch, how did the decisions to establish these two sites come about?
Marc: I think We Are not Freelancers came about when we realized that we needed to get into the blogging community and not only that, when we decided that we needed to get noticed for our work beyond our clients. From the Couch was really spontaneous, it was a random idea we had while working on OCMX Live one Sunday… It was literally a case of David saying “Bro, let’s start a video blog” and me agreeing and hey presto, four days later we had From the Couch!
David: Yeah, We Are not Freelancers was something which we just had to create. We never had a blog before and had absoloutely zero involvement in the web community. So we had to generate a presence. We Are not Freelancers helped a bit, but nothing like From the Couch.
I notice David is an avid Fireworks user, and Marc is a whizz with Coldfusion. Are there any particular reasons behind your choice of tools?
Marc: There’s not specific reason behind it, it’s more of a case of “stick to what you know”. When we started working in the web our longest standing client Peresoft Software’s website was using Coldfusion and naturally I just stuck with it after using it in my ‘infancy’. I have moved on to PHP and WordPress development but am still very much involved with Coldfusion.
David: When I started working in the web world the only programs I had were Homesite (first version of Dreamweaver) and Fireworks. In those early days I always just looked at Photoshop as a photo editing tool. Since then I have just stuck to what I know. In my opinion Fireworks has a better user experience even if it lacks the power of PS.
Being a team of designer and developer you have both the client side and server side expertise, but how far do your individual skills overlap. David, do you dabble in any coding and Marc, do you enjoy producing any visuals?
Marc: It used to be like that, more of David dabbling in code than me doing any design work. But we found our own niche’s, if you like, and separated the ‘departments’. Now we both stick strictly to our own sides, it avoids confusion and keeps everything streamlined.
We Are Not Freelancers and From The Couch are great sources of inspiration, are there any blogs or online video shows that you draw your own inspirations from?
Marc: The main inspiration would be Gary Vaynerchuk. While his style is quite different to ours, we like the way he engages his audience and cares for his users.
David: I like blog.spoongraphics.co.uk, adii.co.za, garyvaynerchuk.com, cssglobe.com, wefunction.com, daily.creattica.com, woork.blogspot.com, designshard.com… there are so many but I think that since twitter has exploded I have become a bit slack with visiting my favourite blogs… which is a pity.
Constantly pumping out new content can be hard work, where do your ideas for new blog and video show content come from?
Marc: If we have a really good idea brewing we briefly plans shows, but quite often we come up with the ideas day by day just based on our experiences at Obox Design, since we’re always learning something new, we find it easy to just share our views as we learn something new.
What benefits have you seen from being part of the design community through your sites and via social networks?
Marc: As we mention from time to time in our videos, the web community is so helpful and positive, so the main benefits I would say is the networking aspect. Everyone in the business is so accessible, especially via Twitter, seldom do we NOT get a response from someone if we ask for assistance. Infact I think it’s important to have the same mindset when using tools like Twitter etc. and that is not to ignore your followers when they need help, to be as accessible as possible, obviously without giving away too many tricks ;)
David: Just as Marc says, the community rocks.
You have produced some fantastic work on commercial projects, what would you say is your main source of new clients?
Marc: Before we started blogging it was very much word-of-mouth, but now we get numerous requests due to our blog and infact our updated Obox Design website; it’s amazing what having a well designed company portfolio/website does to client interest.
David: Like Marc says, it started with Word Of Mouth (the neighbour etc.), then We Are not Freelancers and now From the Couch and the new Obox Design site. We also get some business through the community.
Do you have any plans for any new websites or blogs, or any exciting ideas you’re looking to implement into any of your existing sites?
Marc: I’ve always had MarcPerel.com in mind but with limited time, it’s hard to get it going, but one day we’ll have our personal blogs, and who know what other ideas may pop up. The one idea that we are implementing is our Signature Series themes for WordPress, it’s really exciting being able to provide well-coded, good looking themes at a limited run for the community, it’s something we’re really excited about. (http://www.from-the-couch.com/post.cfm/title/obox-signature-series#Comments and http://www.obox-design.com/themes.cfm)
David: I can’t wait to release our first theme. It will be part of the Obox Signature series which are a very limited edition set of themes which are heavily design focused and utilize some of the features we developed in OCMX-Live (our content management system). There will be limited downloads with a reasonably expensive price tag. We want website designs to feel special, we want people to be really proud of the theme that they own. So after our first release (which is free but still very limited, 25 – 50 downloads MAX) we will be doing something special for the remaining five themes in terms of tangible items. I think that would be our last ongoing project for now though… balancing a blog, a TV show, a custom web business and themes is rather hectic!!!
Finally, please list out any social networks where you can be found in order to connect.