This afternoon I had a chat with Kieran Potts founder of New Vintage Media. Kieran builds websites with a content first approach that was born out of a career as a technology journalist and a coincidental encounter with programming.


What first got you interested in web design?

It was a total accident to be honest, I started my working life as a journalist for a consumer technology publication. It’s always been an ambition of mine to work for myself I was always trying to work out how I can jump out of a career and become self employed. After five years of being a journalist, I first worked for myself at the end of 2006 and I’ve never looked back. This is around the time when the .com bubble had burst and the web was on a real upward trajectory as people were starting to discover how to monetize online publishing. What was interesting for me was that the setup cost for a digital publishing company was much lower than that of a print publishing company.


I had an idea for a local magazine for entertainment and events listing website. We started building the website over the next year, in the end it didn’t go anywhere but I got two really useful  things out of the project. The first being that in the process of building the website I got involved in the programming. I had a tiny bit if experience from a decade before but I really fell in love with the development side of the process. I found that I was geared towards the kind of thought process you need to go through in order to construct a website. The second thing was that I realised that the amount of time and investment needed to make the listing website work was so MASSIVE, that it was just not worth it.


I started pitching myself as a designer through my network that I’d built up and I was learning on the job. At first I was just helping people get online. It definitely helped that I had a background in content as this was my angle and something I knew that I was good at. Most website designers have backgrounds as graphic designers or computer science. There are so many websites that look great, have nice images and beautiful layouts but have had very little effort put into the written content. Written content tends to be an after thought and something that is not created by a professional.


Did you study web development or design at any point?

I’m basically self taught. I did a little programming when I was at school but at that time It was just a hobby for me. When I was at school there was no concept of programming being a viable career path. If I could go back in time I’d definitely choose to do computer science. It’s not regret but from what I know about the world now it would be very useful to have a solid foundation in programming.


What made you take on a content first approach?

I guess it was the angle that I knew I could bring. It probably wasn’t a conscious decision more something I stumbled across that organically evolved. If I looked back at the earlier work I produced I just see a text document that has some HTML in it. My method is that I start with the plain text and then add HTML. After that I will style the document with CSS and Javascript.


Why did you decided to work for yourself?

No idea! I didn’t ever really know what I wanted to do but I did know that I wanted to be my own boss. Why? You’d probably have to ask a shrink! It was always an ambition of mine to work for myself and to do interesting things. I’m a big believer in making whatever field you work in better. Finding a little niche and really perfecting it. Good businesses in my opinion are not trying to solely make money, they are also trying to make the world a better place. That’s always been a motivation for me.


What are your favourite things about working at The Guild?

Oooo lots of things.... I like having other like minded people around. I used to work at an office in Midsomer Norton where there were lots of really nice accountants and health and safety officers. They were great people but I find it much more productive to be around people that have the same kinds of problems and interests. It creates a really wonderful environment. Aside from this the décor looks great, I think it assists the thought process for techie and creative people


How do you have your coffee?

White no sugar. I’m not really fussed as longs as its coffee!


What big thing are you working on in 2014?

My own project is the big thing I'm working on this year. In the process of building sites for other people over the years I've built up a big code library. So I decided to make my own Content Management System and I will be making it open source and releasing it soon. It’s very different from WordPress, Drupal and other CMS available at the moment. As you'd expect from me it focuses on content. If you look at WordPress for instance it blurs the boundary between developers, designers and end users. It’s made it easy for anyone, even my Dad to set up a website which is a great thing. With WordPress anyone can set up a website


My CMS totally separates the different parts for creating a website. It is aimed at professionals to produce white labelled CMS systems for their clients. I'll be really interested to see how it goes. I've been working on it for a few years so I'm really excited to release it. It doesn't yet have an official name but all will be revealed soon!



To check out Kieran’s work go to: www.newvintagemedia.com


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