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A Pommy in Brisbane, a family business, tinkering with computers, and “partay”-ing. This week we meet Steve Ryan (SportTipsWorld) from CodeCanyon.
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Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
My name is Steve , aka Ste and also “Blue” to my mates. I am a fella, mind you I have been known to don a dress and high heels for our wild Aussie parties. But that’s another story…
I live in Brisbane’s Northside, but we are currently relocating to new offices on Brisbane’s Bayside, in the Cleveland area.
I actually hail from a little cruddy place called Coventry in the UK, where I was born raised and trained in various things, none of which ever really amounted to anything. But we had a good life back in the UK.
However the pull and lure of Australia as a possible country for us to relocate to, became more and more appealing, mainly because of the UK economy, but chiefly to give our kids a better chance of work and a safe environment to live. My kids are aged 21, 20 and 18.
The eldest of whom is joint managing director of our company 422 Pty. Ltd. My daughter, the middle one, works for us as a data entry and systems analyst, and my youngest is at St Lucia QUT University studying Engineering and Mining.
We run a small company. In fact we don’t even trade “as yet” but we herald from IT backgrounds, I via machine code and my son (Business Partner) via programming and solutions.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I actually always hover around on the CodeCanyon marketplace, and over the years we have made some good professional allegiances with coders from all over the globe, and they have worked and assisted us for the last 12+ months on developing our new business venture.
I am a token author, only having produced one item, a jQuery translator, but I don’t really get the time to spare to produce more items, and quite frankly, I am an ideas man… I leave the tricky malarkey to the experts, many of whom are very successful Envato authors in their own rights..
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
On leaving school, back when the world was in black and white, and cars were predominantly made from rust, I went to GEC and trained under an apprenticeship scheme as a Electrical & Electronic MechE engineering student. I soon realised I preferred tinkering with computers, and we first started using the intranet systems, back in the very early 80s.
We began developing websites back in the mid 90s primarily for ourselves as inhouse projects. We never really design sites/themes/templates to sell or utilise on third-party client sites, I have this fear of letting go of our work.
Some of our sites, which over the years we have sold to fund various other projects, were and some still are extremely popular. In the last few years we have decided to move track, and on sell our established sites and some of our portfolio to assist in future growth.
My son , aka Latox, some may well know from his triumphant coding of ancillary sites for YouTube and MySpace, now works full time with us in our small office. He is the PHP SQL dude. His training is pure on-the-job training, running his own servers from age 11.
Describe your home workspace.
We work in a small bespoke office, approx 160 sqm. With 5 workstations, running 6 computers, tied to our blue ADSL cable, the aorta of life as we know it.
Our office is compact, but has everything we need to work cleanly and efficiently, plus it has ducted air, great for when we hit those seering 40+°C summers.
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
We work methodically, and in an illogical logical manner… But our process is generally the same for each project we tackle:
- Whiteboard ideas balloons and schematic ideas and concepts.
- We whip out our scribble software, and I knock up the UI wireframes.
- Ky, my partner, starts making DB fields, and his jiggerk pokery magic, and we set about creating a working storyboard, of our layout.
- Soon after we start hand-coding all elements, in plain HTML. We create content blocks, and our main function blocks.
- We then start the CSS process, of laying out our code blocks and styling them, whilst Ky creates the PHP and MySQL connections.
It is a long process, and we take our time. Our projects are commercial projects in house, so they represent us – in entirety. To this end, the current project is now 13 months old.
Full on and full time, once we have flashed out our basic templates and inner structure, with CSS and JS… added we test in the various browsers. We only support Chrome (latest) FF (latest) and IE (latest). Whilst it bugs me to comply with IE, a stark realisation is that many many people use IE. So we have to keep them shweeeeeeeet.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
I cannot advise on how to create a successful portfolio. However as with any product, you need to follow some simple rules:
- Identify your target demographic, in other words design and create a product and know who your client is.
- Realise your products advantage over competitors offerings, to merely change a color here and a function there isn’t enough these days to gain business.
- Design your product from the ground up, and then reverse engineer its entire process, to see what happens as you stretch, minimfy , change colour and context… In other words, rip the product apart.
- Make sure your designs are “owned” by you. I don’t mean in licensing terms, but OWN your design, and run with it. Dont just rely on functionality to sell stuff, you need to theme and sell your product, make it pure eye candy.
- Ensure it is cross browser compliant, and has non-JS fallback where possible.
- Dont over engineer your product, but then again dont leave out crucial functionality and growth for the design to grow or change with a modicum of ambiguity.
- Document everything your product does, and create the docs as if you were teaching apes to change wheel nuts. You really have to do documentation at its very basic level, and don’t ever assume people understand what z-index is or, what onLoad functions are. Be descriptive and document your product as if it were an Airfix plastic kit, for people to build off.
What do you do to market your files?
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
My faves are:
Just stunning , very well coded, and bomb proof coding.
Very well coded, and with a bit of a slant can be adapted to many many uses.
One of my all time fave files, and very well coded.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
jmzolman: he has worked with us and is a great great guy. Exceptional talent too.
dtbaker: very good at what he does.
MadeByAmp: just very clever and very adept at what he does.
What do you do in your spare time?
As an expat in Australia (nearing 8 years now) we are within a large expat (British) community, and we do meet up a lot. We drink a lot, and we go to many many places, in large or small groups.
This year so far we have done a cruise on Pacific Sun, up to Cairns and back. Had many many house parties and barbies.
So yep, socialising is our biggest pastime.