Profile: David Ellis

Some people plan their careers from the minute they can speak, whilst others get whatever job they can to pay the bills and never really aspire to be anything in particular. Then there are the people who stumble upon their professions and fall into careers that they never planned. “I didn’t want to be a web designer at all. I’d studied to be a print designer and fully expected that is what I would become,” explains web designer David Ellis, “Fortunately for me an agency saw my work at the end of year show and thought it would translate to the web well, they [then] offered me a position which I took.”

Born and raised here in Leeds, David Ellis is one of the cities strongest freelance web designers, despite the fact that he had “never even visited a website” before he began his career in the field. Fast forward to the present day however and things have changed a great deal. From Def Jam UK to Voodoo Events, David has worked with many high profile companies including the creators behind Micky Mouse. “ [I have worked with] global companies like Disney to small start ups. I actually prefer working with small businesses, as there’s a real sense that you can make a difference and see the impact that it has upon them.”

With such an earnest attitude to his work, its no wonder that David has done well for himself and whilst he maybe a success, he says he has witnessed other freelancers having trouble finding their feet in the industry. “Personally I’ve been incredibly lucky, I’ve got to the point where I can pick and choose the work I want to a degree and have never had a period of time where I’ve not had any work to do,” explains David, “I’ve seen other freelancers suffer though and I guess that would be hard to deal with…freelance can leave you isolated and a busy workload leaves you little time to invest in developing your skills. It’s a bit of a juggling act sometimes.”

For David however, it seems that this is a jugging act that he is capable of keeping up with and with 10 years tucked firmly under his belt, David’s very respectable sized portfolio speaks for itself. His portfolio is so respectable in fact, that when asked what his most and least favourite projects have been, the web designer seems to have trouble just remembering them all never mind picking ones out. “There are too many projects to be able to recall really,” ponders David, “I wouldn’t say that I ever particularly dislike a project or don’t enjoy it. There’s always something to take from every project – whether it’s a small piece of design that I’m particularly pleased with or something about the development is challenging and I’ve found a solution.”

According to David this is apparently what web design is all about: finding a solution and even though new advances in technology are happening all the time, the Yorkshire-man does not seem too concerned that technological advancements could make things easier for people to design their own sites, thus taking away his clients. “Much of what I do has nothing to do with technology, it’s about communicating and solving problems and that can be done with whatever you can get your hands on. Technology may help me realise these ideas but it cannot alone solve problems.”

Sticking with the subject of technology, David also insists that despite the Internet and its websites developing rapidly during his ten years as a web designer that the methods used for web designing haven’t really changed. “ [The methods haven’t changed] as much as you’d think, many of the same principles still apply. When I first started, web design was completely new and clients needed educating, and at the same time I was educating myself – the whole industry was finding it’s feet in fact. It was an enjoyable time to be working as a web designer as people were really experimenting, not just in design but also technology and software.”

He also dismisses talk of web design being much different in another ten years time and says that, “Considering that I don’t think its changed that vastly in the last 10 years, I don’t expect to see great leaps in terms of what users and clients are wanting. Technology moves fast but client’s requirements haven’t changed hugely. Obviously the Internet will be served quicker, become even more accessible, portable and everything else that you can already see happening, but clients will ultimately still want the same thing; results.”

Which is what everyone wants at the end of the day and David Ellis seems to be a man who can get them. So, what does the future hold for our experienced web designer? “My goals change all the time,” says David, “Sometimes it can be wanting to get better in a particular piece of software to extend my offering, other times I toy with the idea of starting my own agency. Short term I’m just happy to keep doing what I’m doing.”

For companies across Leeds and indeed the world, it must be good to know that David is still enjoying his job and will be continuing to offer his services for the foreseeable while. For competitors though, this may come as a bad news, especially to the new breed of web designers out their hoping to make a name for themselves.  However, instead of whipping out the fighting talk, David is on hand to give the newbies of the industry a little advice.

“The best thing you can do is be open to suggestion. You never stop learning [in this job] and every job is unique and has unique requirements. There’s [also] plenty of advice available out there; absorb it. Design is all about making educated decisions and being confident with the choices that you make.”