Mayra Metaxa is a web developer and founder of Lab21, a creative studio based in Athens, Greece. Lab21 specializes in UX driven websites. Mayra is also a proud new mom juggling work and baby.
In The Beginning:
1. Can you remember who or what gave you the idea to begin a career in design?
When I was young I wanted to become an architect. Then I got my hands on a programming book and found it easy and interesting, so this is how it started. It's a good thing I got into this field because I believe I would have been a terrible architect!
2. What was the first website you were involved in designing and / or developing and how well did it go?
Wow, that was in early 2007, it was a website for a Greek furniture company - something like an online catalog. I made the layout and code. Lots of gradients that were of course made by using background images. Quite awful! Here is a screenshot:
3. How would you describe your career thus far? Is it all going to plan or is there no plan?
I believe I was lucky with my career. I started in web development working in various companies where I learned a lot. Then I started freelancing on the side, cooperating with Kommigraphics Design Studio, and things went extremely well, specially after wining a few awards - from CSSDA too. Then I quit my day job and started my own company and since then things keep getting better.
4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send yourself a "temporal text" 5-10 years into the past?
I believe everything I did helped me to become who I am and do what I do, so I would just send something like "keep it up - be strong".
1. What are your favorite aspects about working in design?
I love the fact that each project is different than the previous and you get to do new things. I find it very challenging to bring life into a design and add user interactions and animations.
2. If you could pick only one favorite project from your experience thus far, which would it be and why?
I really like most of the projects I have worked on, since you give a piece of yourself in each work. But I have to say my favorite is my own website, lab21.gr. I love the colors and the aesthetic, but it was also the project that got a lot of attention and received the most comments. I just have to update it a bit and add some cool effects when I get the time!
3. What would be your favorite trend in web design and development from the last 5 years?
I love the fact that most sites nowadays are Responsive because you can finally have one website that plays nice in all devices. I also like the Parallax effect where you move your mouse and things on the screen move accordingly. I love it when a user can interact with the elements of a page. And I really like all things done with Canvas & WebGL, even if I haven't got my hand on them yet.
4. Are there any favorite trends you would like to see more of in 2016?
Anything that makes a user interact with the site and keep them engaged!
1. Did you always want to work in the creative industries or did you consider any other career options?
Sometimes when I get overwhelmed with a project or frustrated with the requests coming a few days before the deadline, I want to become a farmer and get a peace of mind - but this is just for 5 minutes!
2. Do you have a good work and life balance or is it a work in progress? Any tips?
I try but it's hard! I used to work too much until I quit my day job and started my own company and then things got balanced. But now I have become a mom and that is a full time job on its own. So I have to find a way to balance working, being a mom and a wife! For now, I work while the baby is asleep and late at night. As for the tips... I need tips at the moment! All that I can say, is that a person needs to have a life and go out in the real world - so at least have the weekend for you, your friends and family!
3. What advice would you give to younger professionals wanting to find success in design?
You need to keep up with new trends as there will always be something new out there. Create a Github or Codepen account and start experimenting. Love what you do.
4. If you had all the money you would ever need, what would you do with your life?
I think I would travel more, donate to charities, but I would keep being a web developer. I would just pick the projects I would like to work on. I love what I do.
1. What type of projects and what industries do you prefer to work in?
I believe that the music and fashion/beauty industries offer more creativity in the project. A website about a band for example is more likely to be impressive and gives you the opportunity to try new things in code & animations.
2. What memorable challenges or highlights have you experienced from the projects you have worked on?
I remember the first time I used jQuery - suddenly I was able to create so many new things and animations on a page! I also remember my first project that had a very very tight deadline and I had to work endless hours to get it done. Unfortunately none of these sites are online any more. It's been a while! After each project you get stronger as you challenge yourself.
3. What are your, or your company's, greatest strengths?
The quality of the code and the pixel perfect result! I was fortunate to work for several years with very creative & demanding designers, which made me care for the smallest details. The developer's code and perception can turn a mediocre design into an impressive website. Everything counts: correct & tidy coding, optimization for speed & search engines, proper rendering of the site in all those different browsers and devices out there.
4. What is the latest project you worked on or what are you working on right now?
Just last week I finished the new website for Tanweer.com, which is an acknowledged movie distribution company. Now I am working on an e-shop for a jewellery creative duo. And while it sounds boring, the designer has gone wild so it is very impressive and hard to implement. Unfortunately it's not my design to share... you will have to wait and see it online!
Thank you for sharing an insight into your world. Any last words?
Thank you CSSDA. Keep up the good work!
Mayra is a web developer and founder of Lab21, a creative studio based in Athens, Greece. Lab21 specializes in UX driven websites.