WorldTeach is pleased to introduce to you the designing talent behind our new website, Jon Langberg of One Mark.  Read more to find out about his background in web design, his company, and what WorldTeach program he would go on.

What’s the history of One Mark (and/or your own with web design)?

I always loved to create. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I fed that creative hunger through graphic artwork, video production, and later songwriting and audio engineering. Contrary to that creative passion, I started my professional career in sales. Although it seemed like a placeholder job at the time, it turned out to be an incredible asset to my future design career.

One of the most valuable takeaways was the opportunity to experience the humanity involved in marketing. I was not willing to be pushy or tell customers what they needed. Instead, I found that to have a fulfilling career in marketing, whether designing, conceptualizing or selling face-to-face, you need to have compassion. You need to establish a relationship with the customer, listen to their needs, clearly present the available options, and let them make an informed decision. As my creativity inevitably made its way into my sales job when I began creating my own brochures, PowerPoint presentations and other forms of marketing collateral, this customer-focused approach became infused with my design.

After my manager saw the work I had done, he was more pleased with my design than the corporate materials and began placing me on other design projects. My desire for a more interactive experience when presenting visuals was what sparked my interest in web design. The web’s potential for interactivity and creativity beyond static graphic design inspired me to learn the trade as I continued to work in sales. Pairing my enthusiasm for web design with compassionate marketing, I started ONE MARK in 2013.

Have you worked with nonprofits before? What did you find compelling about the prospect of working with WorldTeach?

I have worked with several non-profits before. The initial draw to work with WorldTeach was their overall mission and the global impact they have made resulting from decades of hard work; I knew I wanted to be a part of developing an impactful website and brand that reinforced the company’s identity and inspired others to join their efforts. In addition, the staff are enthusiastic, compassionate, and really believe in the work they are doing, and it’s a pleasure to work with that type of person.

What did you enjoy most about the WorldTeach website project?

To do what I love for any type of industry is a pleasure, but it’s even more enjoyable when I am designing for an organization whose ultimate desire is to make a positive change in the world; to be even a small part of that is an honor. In addition, I enjoyed developing certain interactive elements on the website, such as the 3D globe on the “All Programs” page, which was requested by a member of the staff.

What advice would you give to our volunteers, or their students, who want to get involved in web design and development?

If you have the desire to learn and are self-driven, web design and development is one of those professions where you can avoid the massive tuition bills and still be successful. There are plenty of free or inexpensive resources to help you learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP, I personally utilized Codecademy. You can learn the fundamentals by going through courses on sites like Codecademy, but most of my learning came from working on projects. Web development is so expansive that you can’t possibly take a course and then launch into a project fully equipped with the knowledge to execute all of the requirements, unless it’s a fairly basic website. You will constantly be learning things you didn’t know before with every project. I’ve been doing this for years and I am still learning new things. This may sound daunting, but it’s a lot of fun learning along the way. If you encounter a new challenge, you can likely find a solution with a Google search, and there are also plenty of web development forums you can join to get help and advice from a community of developers. Start doing projects for family and friends for little to no money, gain experience, then gradually take on bigger jobs. Thumbtack provides an excellent avenue for getting leads for small (and sometimes large) projects, but you should have a small body of work to display before you start if you expect to get decent jobs.

Pertaining to the visual aspect of web development: always pay attention to any piece of design you encounter that you find compelling. Bookmark websites. Save magazines. Take pictures of street advertisements. I paid attention to what I liked and what others positively responded to, incorporated it into my own designs and added my own creativity and flavor. It helped me build a basis for my design work which allowed me to innovate on my own. I still love finding inspiration in others’ work and using it to create something new, especially when that inspiration derives from a medium outside of the web that I’ve never seen used in the context of a website before. Just when I think I’ve reached an outstanding level of design, I find myself being awed, humbled and inspired to strive for more after visiting award winning sites found on awwwards.com and webbyawards.com. If you are not a design student, it’s also important to understand things like brand identity when designing websites, so I would recommend purchasing “Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team” by Alina Wheeler. Other design books on effective color selection and palette building are useful as well.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one more topic I would recommend educating yourself on, even if it’s not your main focus. Understanding how Google prioritizes content when returning search results can help you to avoid common SEO mistakes and implement best practices. If you plan on really getting into marketing and SEO, learn more about inbound marketing. HubSpot coined the term “inbound marketing”, and in spirit of this strategy of producing free, valuable content to draw in your target audience, they provide a free online course so that you can become a master at inbound marketing.

If you could go on any WorldTeach program, which one would you choose?

Without a doubt, I would choose Namibia Summer to teach Computer Literacy. I owe my career to computers. I learned almost everything I know about my profession from eBooks, online classes and research, not to mention the fact that I perform my job on a computer. Equipping children from Namibia with computer skills gives them that same opportunity to learn, create and explore a whole world of opportunities, which would be very fulfilling.