Word Count: 2805
Takes: 4 minutes and 49 seconds to read
An interview with the owner of nToupin a 19 year old student who designs websites, makes templates and does graphic design in his spare time. He also helps out as a Computer/Network Technician for a K-12 School District.
Other then that his hobbies are: video gaming,fishing,writing, and like said above coding and making art like banners online,etc…
[1.] Max Pen: You say you have managed several forums-websites. Has your objective always been to manage a site for fun or to earn with it? (Like using google ads or selling it when you can’t manage it anymore.)
Nicholas Toupin: Usually when I create a forum or a site it’s due to my interest in it. My last forum was gfxdrop.com which was a graphic design forum which I, as said, thoroughly enjoy graphic design. My main purpose is always for fun however with some of my latest projects such as ntoupin.net I do plan to earn money with it due to the time required for it. Luckily for my customers since my main purpose is fun I can charge much lower prices than anywhere else because I don’t have any commission requirements or expectations. Other than actual commission on a few specific projects I don’t usually intend to make any money off my projects especially from advertisements. If any advertisements are found on my websites they are as a exchange with someone else to help us both increase traffic and not there for money.
[2.] Max Pen: Your last previous project was I take gfxdrop.com, when did you set it up online and what where your expectations out of it? Did you run it alone and how was it processing?
Nicholas Toupin: Indeed my last forum was gfxdrop.com, it was started back in May of 2010. When I started it up I really didn’t expect much out of it. I offered free basic graphic design services on it as well as a place for graphic designers to come and share their work with others. I started the forum up by myself, later taking on various staff to help me such as a global moderator and a few other designers, all free volunteer positions that I was always amazed how many people were willing to help out the community for free in their spare time.
[3.] Max Pen: Why did you finally sell the site? Was it not turning out the way it should, no more time? If you didn’t have time why not in trust the site with someone else like a staff member? Anything you gained of exp. or lesson out of managing gfxdrop?
Nicholas Toupin: Unfortunately after about 6-7 months I was unable to keep up with the forum anymore, due to work and college, as the sole administrator and owner. Upon my decision of leaving the website myself I contacted some staff members that I thought would be able to manage the forum to see if they would be interested, however none had the time to be able to do it which led me to my decision of selling the forum instead. I figured it would be better to keep it alive either by someone else or merged into another forum, the money wasn’t too much of a big deal for me and my only incentive towards it was to regain money spent on the forum such as hosting, domain registration, and some small advertising for it. Eventually it was sold to someone who wanted to merge it into his already active forum. I spent a few days visiting his forum to check on him, his staff, and the forum overall and felt it was a good place to have gfxdrop be part of. My experiences from gfxdrop gave me even more determination and love for graphic design and mix it with my experience of creating websites which pushed me to create my newest website for graphic design and website solutions, ntoupin.net.
[4.] Max Pen: Can you give a introduction to your self about what you like to do online of managing websites, what you have done so far, what forum software you used, so fort … Also mention how many project you done and what genres.
Nicholas Toupin: Well I’ve done a lot of different projects pertaining to websites and graphic design as well as managing websites/forums. Some have been for personal use, others for free distribution as well as some for clients. I’ll give you just a broad summary of the genres and some project information. Web-hosting website design (distributed), my website (ntoupin.net) of course (personal), dog kennel website design for a client, running camp website design for a client, school district website design for my actual work related, owned two graphics forums in the past (used smf & vbulletin), owned a gaming forum (used vbulletin), website review blog (personal), various banners, signatures, and other graphics for friends and as freebies to people of forums, various forum rank sets as free distribution resources, various custom php systems for my work (job application system built from scratch, printer and ink inventory web-bases system, custom cms based systems for news).
There’s most likely more I have forgotten, those are just the specific ones I can currently remember.. I have worked with many different genres in many different situations and I’m sure more will come up in the future.
[5.] Max Pen: Now about nToupin, how did you come up with the idea of letting the water at the header crack through the green bar and further down? Is it to give that special unique effect to the site?
Nicholas Toupin: When I was designing ntoupin.net I started at the top, a typical place where a lot of web designers start, and eventually came up with the design you see now. I wanted the “theme” to be nature and include various colors. My reasoning for letting the water effect “break through” the header was for specific reasoning. Based on my findings of various websites being designed today a lot of websites will have a detailed banner/header at the top of the design and then be almost separated from the bottom. I personally think this breaks up the overall effectiveness of the website and wanted to ensure mine was unique against it by allow the design of the header to flow throughout the website and keep its design going all the way to the end.
[6.] Max Pen: The overall look of the site is very professional and good looking. How important is it for you to come over professional? What styles colors had the site before? (Now its green of type.)
Nicholas Toupin: Well thank you for that comment . As far as professional appearance I try to keep it in mind when working on my website. I actually focus more on an artistic focus rather than pure professional to give my site a unique look and feel and potentially show my clients what I can do even before they view my portfolio. Previously the site started as a darker style, being a mix of blacks whites and blues. That style lasted for about a week before I started working on this design as I felt it was too common of a style and I wanted something unique to my site.
[7.] Max Pen: Do you run the site alone as being the only designer coder to handle requests of clients? If so why let the site come over that there are more then 1 guy behind it? Why not give it that personal feel? Like instead of “Why Us” “Why Me”
Nicholas Toupin: I actually do have a couple others working behind the scenes with me. Currently I do almost all the work as the client base isn’t a large amount however as it grows I will be handing out certain work to others; whether that be just a specific part of a website being designed all the way to an entire website design to be done. While there isn’t too many clients at the moment I encourage others working with me to design new websites or anything else they want and I will gladly put it up on the website to show their work and possibly sell it if they are wanting to sell their design as a template to others. Essentially I could say “me” where I say “we” but I do like to give credit to everyone that deserves it. I do look over every order specifically whether I am the one designing it or not and hold everything to my standards to ensure proper quality.
[8.] Max Pen: If you had to look and think like a client. Where would you buy something of a designer. A guy who works alone on a portfolio site but does it like you do now with using US, We etc … Or would you buy by a guy who says Me, About Me, etc …
Nicholas Toupin: Well it would all depend on what I was looking for. I personally would always stay away from a “big” website design company that deals with hundreds of clients and has hundreds of employees because you never know just what quality you’ll get from them. I’m sure there is some great quality work that comes from such companies and I have no doubt they can get the job done… however they cannot offer the one to one ordering smaller companies can offer such as really getting to know the client in terms of exactly what they are looking for to make the design more customized to their needs and less “general”. In addition to that point a smaller scale website design company can usually offer a much cheaper price as they probably don’t have commission requirements and base prices which can save you a lot of money when you are looking for a website to be designed.
[9.] Max Pen: To what do you pay extra attention on the site? (A particular part of the site, social network accounts, loading speed,etc…)
Nicholas Toupin: My most “worked on” area of ntoupin.net would probably be the quote order form other than the site’s actual overall design. I have recently been working on changing it and am in the midst of updating it (for about the fourth time) in order to be easier for people to order a free quote but at the same time include specific important information that will help me give them an accurate price for their order. The more orders that come in the more ideas I get to help make it easier and faster for clients so I don’t have to email them back and forth 4 times asking questions before being able to give them a price.
[10.] Max Pen: How did you get into the coding and design part? Did you learn most by your self or from school-college? (The course your studying now.) Can you rate all the coding languages you can do from 1 (noob) to 10 (pro)?
Nicholas Toupin: I started simple coding when I was about 12 years old learning some tables, container tags, and other such html elements. As time went on I really kind of left behind the whole coding part and focused more on graphic design; when I was 14 I purchased photoshop and really got into it. I joined a bunch of graphic design forums, becoming staff and doing free graphic work for members such as banners, signatures, avatars, etc. I got a lot of help from the “senior” members and staff at such forums and learned a lot from them over my time at the forums.
Eventually, after a few years, started to try web design. I started designing simple website layouts and when I got decent at the designing I started trying to code them. Up until I was about 16 I didn’t have much success with the coding part of my designs until I took a website coding course in high school. I learned the html structural basics and started with CSS which from there I self-taught myself into what I can do now through reading, experimenting, and other methods.
[11.] Max Pen: Now its a portfolio site but you don’t seem to have to much of work displayed here: portfolio Do you put some time in making sure you get people to order at your site or is it the over look, services selection you spent most of your time working on? (Perfecting) What has been the most difficult to achieve with this site?
Nicholas Toupin: The portfolio portion on the site is only work that I’ve done as part of ntoupin.net. I have refrained from posting previous work and any other outside work on the portfolio to ensure someone doesn’t go to such a piece of work and get confused or suspicious if it doesn’t say “Made by ntoupin.net” or something similar. As far as the amount of work on there, currently there is only a small amount because it has only been up for a couple months and we actually have about 5 website in the process of being designed that will go on there. I actually haven’t advertised ntoupin.net at all purposely (other than possibly some links in forum signatures and other such things) as I like to keep a small client base so I can help them with their needs and get exactly what they want done for them. The more orders I get the less time there is for each one so at some point I will either have to deny some orders or ask them to re-order after a couple weeks.
The most difficult thing to achieve with the site would probably satisfying myself in terms of my own appeal to it. I have made 5 different designs since it opened purely for the point of using them for ntoupin.net. Only 2 have been used and in those 2 I have changed things drastically several times. In the next week or so I am actually going to redo the entire content area of ntoupin.net (the header will be the same) to be more friendly and better coded.
[12.] Max Pen: You also show the design already of your up coming host, what can we expect of that and why do you wish to start u your own hosting company? How will you beat the competition?
Nicholas Toupin: Upon meeting a nice guy that owns a webhost already, we managed to work a solution out that any hosting needs done at my site will be done through his company and any design needs done at his site would be done through mine. This decision to stick with him instead of opening up our own host will allow us much more time dedication to website design as well as savings in costs. The design made for ntoupin.net will probably be finished and sold off as a template for people to use for their own website hosting sites.
[13.] Max Pen: Finally what project has been most fun to do and how do you see your self growing into the webmaster part in the coming years? (As in what do you expect to learn more and be able to do extra you can’t do now.)
Thanks alot for the great detailed response on my questions, this is really a interview worth to be featuring! I hope everyone has a great read on it. -Max Pen