Audrey Walker has always had a passion for the arts and a strong curiosity about computers. Trying to find a specialization that would encompass both, when she entered college she became a computer science major. After spending two years studying C++ and various other fun subjects, she came to the realization that she wasn't integrating her passion for creative. She switched over to a Telecommunications/Digital Media Arts and Technology (DMAT) program and found the mix she was looking for—programming and creative freedom.
After graduation she worked for a handful of Web companies before landing her current position as a Web specialist with Stone Interactive Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home to the University of Michigan and known simply to residents as A2. At Stone she helps design, build and manage high-performance Web sites and other interactive media.
It's Something New Everyday
If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BA in Telecommunications/DMAT, with a Cognate in studio arts from Michigan State University. I studied computer science for two years before deciding to switch over to digital media.
What’s the best site you've seen lately? What’s so great about it? The recent redesign of MarthaStewart.com is great. The overall layout is refreshing, especially with the switch to a 1024 page size. I love the Flash elements in the main sections, and the use of video segments sprinkled throughout. The navigation is easy to use and the sponsored ads are integrated in a way that isn’t annoying. My only suggestion would be to watch the page length—it’s a bit long in places.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I really love what I do, and can’t imagine doing anything else. But if I had to choose, I think it would be cool to own a wine bar.
Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? Yikes, that’s a tough one. I would have to say technology. You can have the most gorgeous site, but if it doesn’t function correctly, you’ve sort of missed the point.
From where do your best ideas originate? I like to see what others in the industry are up to. I check out Adobe Site of the Day and the Communication Arts webPicks on a semi-regular basis. It inspires me to see great work.
How do you overcome a creative block? I look at other media formats—magazines, interior design, TV—and search for interesting patterns and ideas.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Elated.
What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? I visit Weather.com a lot and I think it could use a face lift. The actual design is less than pleasing, and it isn’t super user-friendly. I also think they could do a lot to the interface to make information easier to access.
Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? I’ve always been into photography, but I generally focus my creativity on the Web.
What music are you listening to right now? Quagmyre. My sister is a Highland Dancer, so we’re into Celtic music.
What product/gadget can you not live without? My laptop.
What's the strangest thing you’ve bought online? A Knight Rider lunch box and a pewter stein with a pistol shaped handle.
What’s your favorite quote? “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.” —Milton Berle
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Network, network, network. You never know when you’ll run into someone who can help you out and vice versa. Also, take classes, read blogs and socialize with your peers—interactive media is a rapidly evolving field and it’s important to stay current.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? Everything I know now. I literally learn something new every day.