I am Pan. Pan is Applebox Designs.
Back in 1999 I became a huge fan of music & film, musicians & actors from Asia: specifically China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. At that time the only online sources were the embryo non-English language sites hosted by the fans in each country. It wasn't long, therefore, before I felt the need to create equivalent sites for the English-reading fans that I knew must exist around Europe and the USA. This idea began very simply using Yahoo! Geocities and any other free hosting sites I could lay my fingertips on: at one stage my fansite network was a seamless web of around 40 - 50 inter-linked sites. I began receiving feedback on my design and content from fans all around the world that shared my obsession with the popular culture of Eastern Asia. Because of this I put even more effort into the overall design of the sites and constantly improved the level of coding that this required. It was when my sites (for Tatsuya Fujiwara and Stephen Fung Tak-Lun in particular) started appearing on the first page of Google searches that I realized my interest in website design and the rudiments of HTML coding had become something more than just a hobby.
By now I had completed my secondary education and was heading off to the University of Derby to begin a BA (Hons) Illustration degree. While at university I met many fellow artists and musicians who realized that they needed a basic web presence in order to present their portfolio work to potential clients. Without my realizing it this work was the conception of Applebox Designs. Through word of mouth I soon began to be approached by non-university clients: local gigging bands, music tutors, photographers, painters and other small start-up creative businesses - the power of networking! As part of the Degree Show committee I was responsible for overall design of the website, catalogue, leaflets, flyers and posters. I was also co-opted to design the website for the Video & Photography students. By the time I graduated I already had a commitment to a substantial portfolio of active website designs and had expanded my expertise into the related area of marketing literature. Thrust into the world clutching my Illustration Degree but facing the harsh reality that I had little prospect of any immediate illustration work, I decided to register formally as a self-employed web designer/illustrator in 2007. Applebox Designs was born.
In the late 1990's when access to the web from home became a reality there was a rush by businesses small and large to establish a presence. Unfortunately, the tools available to designers were, by current standards, extremely basic and could only be accessed by programming in HTML code. Predictably, it was not long before several software packages were launched that generated the required code from basic template designs. This enabled users with no HTML knowledge to create their own web pages. Regrettably, this also saw the proliferation of so-called web design companies that simply slotted their customers' content into these template software packages and charged outrageous fees for the final product. This resulted in thousands of sites that were visually identical in terms of layout and navigation with little or no thought given to colour palette selection. You may guess by now that I am no fan of this method of working. Quite apart from the inherent dishonesty of claiming to offer site design that is tailored to your individual needs it is responsible for so many appalling designs that do little to attract new business for the clients.
The tools available to dedicated website designers are now extremely sophisticated. The template approach still prevails however and still results in an overall homogeny of design. To some extent there is now too much flexibility available and many sites suffer from trying to incorporate every new trick. There has to be a balance. This is what I strive to achieve at Applebox Designs. I do not use templates or web design software to create my sites. I still rely on raw coding to mould the overall site but am also able to incorporate other graphic and animation elements as required. Whenever possible I will incorporate elements of the client’s work into the overall design of the completed site. In this way all designs are unique.
As for cost... my aim remains to keep my fees as low and as reasonable as possible. Each contract is priced individually and full free quotations are available to the client throughout the design process.