Interview: Jade Michael Carter, Resourcecode Media Inc.

In 2011, when SWET began to work on a major redesign of its website, we called on Vancouver-based Jade Carter as one who would be attuned to the tastes and needs of a wordsmith community rooted in Japan but reaching out around the world. Carter’s familiarity with the values and aesthetics that we have become attached to through our connections with Japan, along with his seasoned experience in graphic design and the technical aspects of web design, gave us a new look and functionality that has responded to our needs and aspirations. In the three years since the new site was launched in 2012, Jade has continued to support our efforts in keeping our website—and our community—vibrant and responsive. Getting to know Jade makes us appreciate our website all the more.

1. What is your connection to Japan? Did you grow up here, or study Japanese in Canada, work here for some period, etc.?

I moved to Japan in 1991, at the age of 22. I had arrived with zero Japanese-language ability, but found the language fascinating, as I came to realize just how much culture, history, and philosophy is embedded in communication. I became extremely keen and focused on the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam (perhaps a bit obsessed).  I was able to pass level 2 in my second year, then level 1 during my third year in the country. While teaching English, I studied economics at a university in Gifu Prefecture for some time, then began work at a small Nagoya advertising agency. I was able to get in the door via language abilities, as a copywriter/translator, but quickly switched to graphic design work, which I had loved since childhood. My boss/mentor, artist and designer Goto Hiroshi, was kind enough to take me under his wing, and I've been designing professionally, using Japanese, English, and other languages, ever since.

After leaving the firm and spending some years as an independent a freelance designer, I moved to Vancouver, Canada, with my wife and children 9 years ago, and incorporated my business, Resourcecode Media. I travel to Japan as often as I can, on business, and to visit friends and family. I use Japanese at work constantly, and continue to study, mainly by reading novels, which I find a great joy.


2. When/how did you get started with web design?

Fortunately, the Internet boom in Japan was in its early days in 1996 when I was getting started as a graphic designer, so I was able to dive in head-first. Of course, some designers gravitate to the print medium, but I found myself drawn to web design—the interactive aspects seemed intriguing and challenging. In the early days, there was not much separation between coding and design in the industry (these disciplines seem quite separate today)—one was expected to do both, and I think that those who learned how to hand-code at that early stage were given a very practical start.

Our office did a lot of CD-ROM work as well—this media medium did not depend upon bandwidth, so it was surprisingly rich in detailed graphics, 3D elements, animation, video, etc. I could see that those skills would become useful in the future as bandwidth increased. The emergence of Flash allowed us to eventually bring such rich experiences to the Web as well.

Doing bilingual design work in Japan can give a designer access to projects for major corporations, which is always interesting and challenging. In the Chubu/Nagoya region, that usually means doing work for the wide-ranging Toyota Group—these projects were large-scale, and intense, but always rewarding.


3. What are the key challenges faced by people who want to create a website?

I would say that the biggest challenge is organizing information in an effective way. This is generally where we start with every project—we first consult with the client to compile an overall "wish list" of what they would like to appear on the site, then create a detailed site map to establish the website structure. After some fine-tuning, the finalized site map gives us an effective "blueprint" to base our design decisions upon. It's much like building a house! A practical, solid blueprint will lead to an attractive and useful end product.

Most importantly, we must first assess: 1. Who is the target audience? 2. What must the website do for that target audience? Answers to these two questions dictate most of our decisions about structure, design, and functionality.

We build a lot of multilingual sites, often combining Asian languages with English, and it is challenging to create a single design that works well across separate languages, cultures, and markets. Not all web development offices can execute such single designs well, but this is something we specialize in.

Building a functional, easy-to-navigate, professional-looking website requires a somewhat difficult-to-achieve mix of art and technology. I'm happy to say that 15+ years in the business of building interactive projects allows us to achieve this consistently.


4. There are thousands of web-design companies and myriad create-it-yourself services, not to mention WordPress and other free blog software. What makes Resourcecode special?  With Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and other free services, why would anyone want to make a customized website?

We bring a certain hand-crafted sense of pride and workmanship to our projects, which seems funny because I'm speaking about what is, in the end, just a bunch of pixels on a screen. However, I think craftsmanship in web design is real, as real as the quality in writing, editing, and translation that SWET represents.

Working with a pre-packaged template is inherently awkward, and I think backward—it is difficult and time-consuming to tweak, hack, and bend that template, trying to force it to match your message. We take the opposite approach—creating a structure and design that effectively gets our clients' real message across, then building a custom template based on that design, usually on the WordPress platform, that the client can use to add articles and edit pages after the site launches.

Having your own customized website, at your own unique URL (domain name) is an important step towards creating a serious, professional image for your organization or business. In today's work environment, your web presence should be ground zero for your marketing efforts.


5. What is the range (in yen/dollars) an individual should budget for a first-time website?

We work with a wide variety of clients, from individuals (including artists and musicians with little or no budget available) to multinational corporations and government agencies, so the range in budgets for our projects is quite wide.

The smallest websites for individuals can generally be built from JPY 150,000, and a full-fledged company site would usually cost from JPY 400,000. We can also provide custom quotes for large-scale sites that contain hundreds of pages. We're able to assist those with a fixed or limited budget—once we have an idea of the resources available, we can outline what we're able to accomplish within that budget.

The websites we build include a unique design tailored to the client's brand, and a WordPress theme and content management system that the client can use to edit the site post-launch—this keeps ongoing site maintenance costs to a minimum. As mentioned, your web presence should be ground zero for your marketing efforts, and a sharp, professionally designed site will prove its worth in a short amount of time.

Resourcecode also offers website maintenance services at a reasonable hourly rate—we can enhance existing sites and add features, while resolving issues caused by platform and system upgrades. This can be a better alternative when budgets are tight and a full site renewal is not quite feasible.

Resourcecode Media is a relatively small and nimble company, so our rates our are quite competitive when compared to with advertising agencies that must deal with expenses that are much larger than ours.


6. Could you point us to a few example sites that you have designed for Japan-based clients?

Of course the SWET site renewal ([url=][/url]) is a Japan-based project that we're very proud of! Here are some others:

Aoba-Japan International School

EZEL Furniture Design

Canada Tsuga Wood Products

Tokyo Property Real Estate

ANA Crowne Plaza Hotels

Our full portfolio can be viewed here:


Resourcecode would like to offer website development services to the entire SWET community, with a 10 percent discount to registered SWET members through December, 2015.

We have extensive experience building multilingual sites, and can incorporate easy-to-use Content Management Systems, most commonly built on the WordPress platform, that allow for updates to website content via a simple admin interface.

Our portfolio site can be viewed here:

If we can be of assistance with a website renewal for your organization, please don't hesitate to get in touch by email:

Jade Carter
Brett Pointer

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