It’s safe to say that Dmitrij Rassylnov, who goes by Dmitrij on 99designs, is an authority on web design—particularly landing pages. After winning 42 contests, you earn that designation.
We had the opportunity to pick his brain about the web design process, and what most web designers are doing wrong. Plus, we catch up on how Dmitrij got into the freelance design business and the exciting places he is going. Read on!
Name: Dmitrij Rassylnov
99designs handle: Dmitrij
Location: Yalta, Russia
How did you wind up in the design profession?
I first came across design as a student, though it was not my area of study. I was actually preparing to become a programmer, then discovered Photoshop and changed course. I started with simple experiments in this program, then moved on to vector graphics.
Then, thanks to references from my friends, I found work as a designer’s assistant at a small, local advertising agency. There I really had a chance to familiarize myself with design, advertising, marketing, branding, printing and all the rest. Finally I found my way to web design, which became my major profession and source of income.
Really, I acquired all of this knowledge and skill in a gradual manner over a rather long stretch of time. Rome was not built in a day, after all.
You mention web design, but what about all the illustrations your work incorporates? This element is very strong too.
Funny you should mention it. Here I must note the importance of collaboration: 90% of those illustrations are made by my brother, who is far more talented than I in this area.
Tell us about your design process. When you get a brief for a landing page, what are your first steps to tackling it?
As a staring point, I try to imagine what would be the best way to present the specific information that attracts customers—whatever that may be for the given company. Once I have a sense of that, the next step is to construct a wireframe on a real paper with a good old-fashioned pencil.
Then I make a rough mockup in Photoshop, but still I try to keep it as conceptual as possible at this stage. I don’t start making decisions about the color scheme, typefaces, whether the page will contain any photos, illustrations, icons, or any other details like that until later on.
Perhaps a more concrete answer to your question is this: the main part of every website is its header, so this is the element to which I pay the most attention, and always where I start my work. Only after I have found a nice solution for the header, that has everything that was mentioned in a design brief and looks nice and clear, will I know where to move next and what elements and techniques to use to design the entire page.
You must have a sharp critical eye by this point. What would you say are the biggest mistakes that designers make when designing the landing pages you see?
Of course. Like most people, every day I view dozens of websites and landing pages. If the page is not “catchy,” I don’t stay longer than 2 – 3 seconds. I would say the following are the main problems that tend to drive me away:
- Too much information/text on the first screen. Don’t force me to read much in order to understand where I am.
- Too much color. If there are too many bright elements competing to get my attention, I won’t know where to concentrate. Don’t make me think
- Lone functioning pre-loader, making me wait while the background video loads, or while it tries to display countless images, etc. Don’t make me wait. First, make me interested, and only after this will I be willing to wait 5 seconds for data. I might even wait or even 5 minutes, if you’ve made the hook strong enough.
Can you tell us a little about where you live?
I live in a small city, Yalta, which is located on the coast of Black Sea. Sun, sea, mountains— these are best friends for anyone seeking inspiration, new thoughts and ideas. Having a mountain bike is helpful—it opens a whole new world and really allows me to enjoy all this beauty. But of course, a simple walk by the sea is really enough to help you to relax after a hard and busy day at work.
What are your plans for the future?
I don’t know what I will be doing 5 years from now, but I know that I will never quit freelance. Working with different people from all over the world is just too interesting to leave.
Today you design a website for a construction company from South Africa, tomorrow you complete a personal webpage for a young dentist from the UK, the day after tomorrow you seek out ways to increase conversion for an accounting website in the US. What you might be doing next week, you never know!