I first heard of Matthew while exploring UX Booth, a darn nice little blog and resource site dealing with user experience by four young folks. Then I heard he joined the team at BuySellAds, a company I take great interest in both because of their success and because it's a wonderful service that I use here on CSS-Tricks. I thought I'd catch up with him for a few questions...
CHRIS: Gecko's eh? I've often told people starting out on the web that they should combine other interests in their life with web design, so they have project to work on they can be passionate about. Is that what is going on with Gecko Time?
MATTHEW: Gecko Time is my first venture into blogging about a passion I've had for years. When I was in high school I bred geckos on a large scale. I had anywhere from 50 to 150 geckos at any time and sold them for $25 to $800 a piece. When I left for college I sold my collection. I started the largest gecko topsite and have run it since then. I also keep in touch with friends I made over the years in the gecko hobby. I wanted to start a blog on my own and figured I'd try geckos since the vertical is virtually nonexistent. Gecko Time currently writes in depth care articles, how to guides, and interviews people in the gecko world. One thing that really sets us apart is how deep we go in our posts, especially interviews. So far the site has been a hit. It has been a challenge working with an audience who is not used to content being presented in a blog format but we are making progress.
CHRIS: I first heard of you from UX Booth. One of the cool aspects of the site is that there are four of you with different backgrounds and experiences that review sites together. How did that start? Was that the plan from the beginning?
MATTHEW: The UX Panel has a very interesting background! I met Andrew Maier and David Leggett at the Governors Honors Program during the summer of 2006. David was a Techie, or Technology Major. I was a business major, and Andrew was a teacher in the computer science department. GHP is a program that allows rising Sophomores and Juniors in High School the chance to a college experience before finishing high school. Only the top 700 students from Georgia attend. We all became friends and later we were introduced to Andrew's lovely wife, Redd. That is how we all met! The site came as an idea, we all wanted to work on a site together. We enjoyed each others presence, and we think our talents combine make a great team.
CHRIS: Are good design and good usability separate things? In other words, can a site be "well-designed" and have poor usability?
MATTHEW: Defiantly! UX Booth is more about the user experience, which encompasses much more than just usability. Over the past few months I have learned more and more about this topic and hope to write a post sometime soon on the layers of UX. But, back to your question, yes. I think "pretty" websites can still have usability and UX downfalls. Something as simple as a submit button being red, which is commonly considered for cancelations or deleting something. This is only one example. This question in itself would make for a great post I think :).
CHRIS: I try to do the best I can for usability here on CSS-Tricks, but I'm only one man! Is there anything you think this current design is doing poorly in terms of usability?
MATTHEW: Oh, the pressure is on, huh? :) I really like CSS-Tricks! Links are clearly links and the structure is intuitive. In your contact form I am perplexed by something. First, your format for details about commenting are a bit different than usual but I do not see this as a problem. In addition, your submit button is orange. In your case, since it fits with your color scheme, it seems to work well. Be careful using strong colors for submit buttons that resemble red. Red can be closely related to canceling or deleting which is no good for a call to action button that is made to submit information.
CHRIS: You are the new guy at BuySellAds. Is it really just you and Todd or are there some more folks behind the scenes? How has it been going so far?
MATTHEW: Working for BuySellAds has been an amazing experience! The company is growing rapidly and I am glad to be part of the staff that is making it possible. Outside of myself and Todd we’ve got a couple programmers working directly on the product and another support guy he is bringing up to speed. I know he contracts out for administrative type stuff (server admin, accounting, etc.), but they’re not full-time. I look forward to the growth that is planned for the next year and years to come, Todd is truly an awesome person to work with and I have learned much from flying under him while learning the ropes of the advertising market.