Now that you’ve seen the logo design process in part 1, I thought it would be great to take a look at the company behind the work. Mohamed El Laithy is the owner of iTQan, a graphic design startup out of Mississauga. As a referral, I hadn’t worked with him before this, so the experience was new for both of us. I recently sat down with him to get his thoughts on the process, his tools, and social media among other things.
Briefly: I sit down and talked to Mohamed El Laithy, the owner of graphic design startup iTQan. Designing CWL’s most recent logo gave me an opportunity to learn more about this local businessman.
Tell me a little bit about your company and what you do
Well, it’s a small startup based in Mississauga, and I’m really passionate about design in general – be it on the web, or in the graphic. I believe design can deliver strong messages that can help any businesses flourish and thrive.
And, how do I say your company’s name?
“It-Khan”, actually it’s loosely transcribed from the Arabic word, which means perfect, or striving for proficiency. There is not a perfectly literal translation to English. And, I like IT, because it’s related to the information technology field. I initially wanted to write it as iTCan instead of iTQan, but the domain was already taken (and, “Can” would have eluded to Canada).
What kind of preference do you have in terms of work that you do? What kinds of technologies do you focus on?
Of course, no one can do everything, so I’m limiting myself to static websites (very easy), but also rich content or database-driven websites. I’m depending heavily on CMS (content management systems). One of the best CMS’s I feel is ExpressionEngine. I have almost four years of experience working with Expressions Engine. I’ve developed some big sites in ExpressionEngine.
How do you feel about WordPress?
WordPress is great, but not for serious businesses. Not for professional businesses. It’s free, and ExpressionEngine is not. You have to pay $300 for the license. They have strong and vibrant support, and it’s very scalable and extendable.
On the development side, you build a website and you also do graphic design. Have you considered other types of development?
The primary focus is to deliver good design. I want to deliver good communication messages (with the help of design). I have a very strong business background, and my first two university degrees were in business and marketing. I’m a late bloomer to the world of design. I have always liked the design (since I was a teenager).
How do you feel about the role social media plays in what you do?
It’s confusing. Social media is becoming very huge, and it’s definitely playing a big role. But, at the same time – I feel it’s hindering productivity. You really need to be wise about how to use it, and when to use it. Social media is not everything. There are more ways to help your business. You can’t solely depend on social media.
So far, are things going well with the company?
Yes, things are going well. It’s building. I haven’t done enough to promote the company – primarily because I was busy with other clients, but secondly because I’m still in the startup phase. I’m building a plan for how this business will be. I’m focusing on my strategy, what I need to work on, and what technologies are lacking. For example, I’ve started learning Ruby.
How do you balance the work the personal life?
Of course not. I’m not 100% satisfied with what I’ve been doing so far. But, I have learned from my mistakes. I know what’s needed and I’ve started to fix it. In fact, I’ve decided to open an office and separate the home and workspace. To be able to organize my working hours better.
How do you feel about how the CWL logo process went (in that it took more than a month)?
Any successful business relationship requires the designer gets to know exactly who he’s dealing with. To get to know his client well. This in turn allows me to know your exact needs and requirements. So, I was very keen to get to know this in the beginning. We had an extensive talk at the start. I had to fill out a very detailed questionnaire. Sometimes the questions were a little redundant and monotone, but it was essential for me.
Do you do this for every client [logo questionnaire]?
Yes, exactly. it’s very important. in the beginning, I knew you were the type of client that would need this kind of research on my part. I knew that you also have some design background. My strategy was to pick up some of your words like simple, intuitive, flow, the human natural movement of it, and these all made me think of a model where I needed to do something handcrafted. I presented you with the first design effort, and although you appreciate the effort – you gave me feedback and I started again. It’s always a good thing to start fresh. After your first feedback, I acted as if it was the first time I hear you. I completely forgot about my first trial design. it’s always very useful to start fresh. You don’t stick to your prejudices and try to twist things. There’s always room for improvement and innovation. My second design was something completely different from angles and bold letters. After your second feedback, I was sure that I was on the right track. As in any progression, learning by doing.
There were a lot of ideas, and completely different. And, I wonder, platform and software are you building this stuff?
My favourite, Adobe Illustrator. It’s no wonder why it’s the starting point for any project. This is because it uses math (vector graphics) that allow for great versatility. I have a great deal of experience on this platform.
Any other things you would want to mention?
Yes, any great design, it’s the responsibility not only of the designer but also of the client. For us, we were able to work well together. I don’t think we would have made something you would like at the end if we didn’t work together. Sometimes, clients need to be fired if they don’t realize they have a responsibility too. It’s always experimenting, and if the customer is engaged, this is the best scenario.