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chrome88 provides web design, development & consulting to designers, marketing agencies and small business owners.

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Reality Check

Paul Matsuda interviews himself in the first person because FAQ’s can be tedious and boring.

Where did the name chrome88 come from?

I was working under the name Modular Function for several years, but there came a time when that name wasn’t really relevant to what I was doing. Chrome is a word that straddles my former and current professions. In photography it indicates transparency film (which is what was used for professional shoots) and chrome is also a term used to describe the area in a web browser outside of the live viewing area.

…and the 88?

Truthfully I was at a hot rod show and saw an Oldsmobile Super88 that had been ratted out. Something about the fender badge on it really spoke to me for reasons unknown (image under Testimonials on the home page). I wasn’t going to call myself Super88, so I did the next best thing. I knew people would ask me about it, so I had concocted an answer about 88 being both symmetrical and asymmetrical, but that only sounds plausible if I have beard and wear my hair in a bun.

How was Modular Function different than chrome88?

When I started building websites in the early 2000’s, unless you were using some corporate level publishing system, or even worse, a terrible consumer “build your own website” service, all pages had to be hard coded individually and updates had to be done by the web designer. So I decided to build a publishing system that I likened to Ikea furniture. You could slide pieces in and out depending on your needs with those pieces providing high levels of functionality. It was basically a hybrid of a hand-built site with publishing capabilities built in.

…and what happened to that platform?

It’s still in use by a couple of different websites, but basically the market, and especially open source and DIY platforms over-ran it, and rightly so. It served me (and my clients) well at the time. It was used by over 100 websites including as an intranet tool by the Nature Conservancy and by the Paul Mitchell school system.

One of your titles is “web designer” but you also work with other designers. How does that work?

I was never trained as a designer and have always had some amount of hesitation to call myself a designer. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a lot of really great designers and have a lot of respect for good designers, so comparatively speaking always felt a bit self-conscious about it. I do have good design sense, and think of what I do as good  “design massage”. I can utilize an existing basic design and massage the hell out of it, and also work with a designer who may not know enough about websites and coding to maximize their designs. My website references me as a web designer because people aren’t going to Google “web design massager”, they’re going to search for “web designer”.

So if I come to you, do I need to hire a designer as well?

Absolutely not. By using Wordpress, Squarespace or any other modern platform, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of pre-built “themes” that you can use that are already fully functioning websites. I’ll present you with a few different themes and once we decide on a direction, start building the site and incorporating your brand, colors, etc. Many of the websites that are in my portfolio were built that way.

Of course if I think that it would be more beneficial to the project to bring in a more experienced designer I would tell you. As Dirty Harry would say, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” That was of course before he started talking to chairs.

If I use a “theme” then won’t my website be “cookie cutter”?

If you think of a website like being a house, then WordPress is the foundation, the theme provides the frame and (moveable) walls, plug-ins provide functionality, and then you add your own design elements (paint, carpet, furniture) to create your own environment.

The themes that I work with are built with a great deal of design flexibility. For instance the theme that I used for this website offers 200 design choices to use as a starting point.

And where are you on doing back end development work?

Even when I was building a publishing system I thought of myself as “developer lite”. I know how to problem solve and make things work, but what I was building would never have held up in a corporate environment. I knew that at the time, but that wasn’t who the platform was intended for. At the same time, there was a low cost of entry for the user: small business owners with low to medium web views.

So in answer to the question, there are too many good coders out there who can do backend work faster and cheaper than me. When I need to I can call in resources for specific projects since I’ve BTDT.

Not to be confused of course with front end (HTML & CSS) coding which there can still plenty to do even when using a WordPress theme.

What’s the deal with HTML e-mail?

Coding HTML e-mails (an e-mail with images and looks like a web page) is a subset specialty of web coding. There are no standards for HTML e-mail, so mail systems, mail clients and browsers all have their quirks that can wreck havoc on the code.

For instance, Outlook uses MS Word as their rendering engine, not HTML, which requires multiple work arounds and special coding. YahooMail strips out paragraph tags, so if not coded correctly, there is no spacing between paragraphs. Those are just two of the 100 or so things that you have to be aware of.

Then of course it needs to be coded to display differently on mobile devices than on a desktop computer or tablet.

I worked for several years on HTML e-mail campaigns for various clients with Hero Marketing, not only on coding, but also with streamlining their deliverables process to eliminate redundant processes and coding.

A lot of your friends and even some clients still identify you as being a photographer. Are you doing any photography?

Occasionally I’ll either shoot or direct a shoot for a client to try to prevent them from using bad photography on their website. Now I mostly shoot for fun using my iPhone and whatever accessories I can stuff into my pockets.

Anything else?

Let’s go Giants!

If you have a question that you think would be appropriate for this page, please let me know.