As the interactive director at Bergman Group, Darren Wamboldt leads the design for all interactive projects. Some of his recent work includes sites for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, American magazine, National Audubon Society and Martha Jefferson Hospital. Prior to the Bergman Group, Darren worked as a designer in Washington DC with clients that included Colonial Williamsburg, GSA, National Library of Medicine and USAID.
Originally from South Dakota, Darren grew up camping and hiking in the Black Hills and also spent time working in Seattle and Phoenix before moving to the East Coast. With degrees in commercial photography and visual design, in his free time he can often be found sketching or snapping pictures or working as a freelance designer. He's also an avid Masters swimmer and enjoys competing in local swim meets.
Bringing The Subject to Life
If you have a degree in what field is it? I have two degrees, an Associates in commercial photography and BA in visual communications and web design. I started my career in photography and, after spending time in the US Coast Guard, I went back to school for graphic design.
What’s the best site you’ve seen lately? What’s so great about it? Deep Sea Challenge. It makes great use of the scrolling page trend. The homepage uses a long vertical layout that users can interact with as they scroll. Not only does the vertical scrolling fit the subject matter of diving but the information elements really add an extra layer of depth to the site. But the number one reason I like it? It brings the subject to life and makes getting the information fun.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? National Geographic photographer or professional outdoorsman.
Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? Design. Technology should support design and content. One big mistake web designers make is using technology for the wrong reasons or because it's cool and hip. Before I use a technology I always ask myself, “Does it improve the user experience?” and “Does it support the design?” If the answers are no, it shouldn’t be used.
From where do your best ideas originate? I draw my ideas from various places, print design, illustration, photography, environmental graphics… there is so much great work. I also believe that I need to get one or two bad designs out of my system before I can create good design.
How do you overcome a creative block? I go back to paper and start sketching. If that doesn’t work I get away from the computer and try to look at the creative problem from a different perspective.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project. How about two? Excited and giddy.
What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? Craigslist. Being one of the top visited websites, I think it’s time for a little design time. This site has proven that it’s simple and relatively easy to use but it could still use some design changes to really improve its look and usability. I would introduce some web fonts, a simple color palette and a clean design with a strong hierarchy.
Do you have creative outlets other than web design? When I’m not designing websites I enjoy creating illustrations and photography (specifically, recreating scenes from movies with toys). Working other mediums with no constraints helps to foster creativity in my work.
What music are you listening to right now? The Heavy and Van Halen A Different Kind of Truth.
What product/gadget can you not live without? iPad (of course).
What’s the strangest thing you’ve bought online? A Battlestar Galactica movie prop lapel pin.
What’s your favorite quote? “Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? 1. Don’t stop learning, 2. Learn your strengths and focus on developing those skills, and 3. Stay focused and have fun.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? The importance of knowing how to communicate and work with a team. Learning to work and collaborate with a team is vital for the success of any web project; master the skill and you will be a step ahead of the rest.