About this episode
In this episode, we'll hear all about creating story driven websites and his advice to just get it done so that perfection doesn't hold you back and consistently exercising your mind so that creativity can more easily flow in the moments you need it.
Matthew Munger: Hey Diego. Thanks for joining me today.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yeah, it's a pleasure.
Matthew Munger: So, why don't we start off by just giving a quick introduction about yourself and tell everyone a little bit about who you are.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yeah, sure. So I'm Diego. I live in Brazil and I'm a brand designer and Webflow developer. I've been doing websites for a long time, but I migrated to Webflow in about a year and a half, two years ago, more or less. And since then, yes, I'm just having fun doing some cool Webflow websites, like doing motion stuff, design stuff, all the things that I love.
Matthew Munger: Tell us a bit more about where you're located there in Brazil.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yeah, sure. I live in a small city here in Brazil. It's called Paulinia, and it's like an hour and a half from Sao Paulo, like a big city here.
Matthew Munger: What's it like living there?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: It's pretty good. It's a city meant to live and have a calm life. The neighborhood, it's really nice. So yeah, it's the best place to live in my opinion.
Matthew Munger: And what do you really enjoy about living there?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Like I said, it's pretty calm. A bigger city like Sao Paulo, for example, is too chaotic.
Matthew Munger: Right?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: I feel like the place I live, it's very calm and inspiring. Like you have all that quietness to help you focus on the things that you do, to spend time with your family without worrying too much about like violence and other stuff. So a good place to live with your family and to focus on your work. We have some great spots here with some nature parks and all that stuff.
Matthew Munger: When you get out of the house, where do you like to go visit? What kind of places?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: My son loves going to the mall and seeing some cool stuff on the malls and playing games there and going to movies. Yeah, and visit the family. Like all our family is living 15 minutes to 30 minutes far from us. So it's really easy to just go and spend the weekend with the family.
Matthew Munger: What does your workspace look like? If we were to sit in your chair, what would we see?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Well, I would say that I'm surrounded by chaos, but it's an organized chaos and I think that as a creative person, that's the best place to go. Organized chaos, let’s say, feeds your creativity. So everything is messy, but I know where everything is at the same time. So I'm not lost here inside of this.
It's a small room, but it's cozy, it's nice. I have a view outside of my house. I can see the street, I have a nice air conditioner. My setup is great. So it's a great place to stay. Well, I stay here like most of my day, right? So it must be cozy and quiet, so yeah.
Matthew Munger: Nice. Do you listen to any music while you work?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Not while I work. I like to listen to music while I'm walking or driving, which is something that helps me think through some ideas. Because most of the time when I'm sitting in front of my computer, I'm focused on what I'm doing at that moment. But there's a time where you just need to go outside and get some fresh air and that helps with the creative side of things, like trying to figure out some ideas for a project, et cetera. And music at that point, yes it does help.
Matthew Munger: And do you schedule those walks or is it more like when you get to like having a hard time or blocked, then you go for a walk?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yeah, it's more like that. Like I don't do walks daily. I should, probably, but yeah, most of the time I don't plan time for that. But yeah, sometimes when I'm just feeling too stressed, I need a break. Yes, then I go outside and take a walk. Maybe even take my son to a small park that we have here in the neighborhood. Just spend some time outside to get some fresh air. And in the meantime, while I'm walking and listening to some music, then I get some ideas. Or maybe even when I'm just taking my son to school or coming back from that, that's where I like to listen to music and think about the things that I'm doing.
Matthew Munger: Do you have anything interesting around you? Like an object that might have a story to it?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Well, I do have some small objects here, which are some trophies from contests, advertising and creative contests that we participated, me and my wife participated in here in Brazil. I like to keep them nearby to remember the long path, the long journey that me and my wife had when we decided to start our small agency here in Brazil. And we struggled a lot at the beginning, but then we started doing some good stuff, being recognized, and that was really something that kept us on our path. Like they're saying that we were on the right track in our journey and we should keep moving forward.
So keeping those things here, when I struggle a lot, and when imposter feeling hits up and says, “No, I'm not that good and there's a lot of people doing better stuff than me,” or I'm struggling to find some good idea for a project and then I start doubting myself. Then I look at those things and I think, “Yes, I'm on the right track. I'm doing fine. We're doing fine.”
Matthew Munger: Whenever you have that self-doubt, imposter syndrome, those serve as inspiration and a reminder that you do have it within you and you've done it before and you can do it again.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yes.
Matthew Munger: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of building cool animations and websites?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Well, yeah. I'm a gamer person. Like I love playing games. I have an official time of the week to do that. It's every Saturday evening when everyone else is going to sleep, having quality sleep. Like, why should I sleep if I can play games? So I spend all the time after everyone is sleeping, playing games.
I love them. And I’m also an anime fan, I watch anime all the time. I have subscriptions for all kinds of streamings specialized in anime. I'm just a huge fan of Japanese culture. My wife is actually from a Japanese family, by the way,
Matthew Munger: Oh?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: It's one of my passions. So yeah, I love that kind of stuff. Yes, music. I love music. I actually played in a band when I was younger, so I play guitar.
Matthew Munger: Do you still play guitar?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Uh, it's been a long time since I played. I'm still a bit rusty. I should get back to it, but yeah, I still have them, I still have my guitars.
Matthew Munger: What kind of games do you like to play?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: People that know me, they know that I'm all into storytelling. I love storytelling, like telling stories of my projects. And that same thing reflects on the type of games I love to play: games that tell a story that walks you through a journey. Action-packed games for sure, but let's say games like God of war, The Last of Us, games that are really focused on the story itself. So you have a great experience, you have some action, you have some drama, and you have the story that captivates you. So these are the types of games that I really enjoy playing in my free time.
Matthew Munger: What is something that would surprise people to learn about you?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: I don't know, maybe the fact that I have like five dogs and two cats here at home and it’s pure chaos. And my wife actually has a personal project. Her Instagram is about the daily life of this big family. And I spend time helping her, like doing creative stuff. Sometimes she needs to do some advertising for partners and that kind of stuff. And I help her recording and doing the videos. And sometimes I actually make the voices of the dogs.
Matthew Munger: So you kind of have your own little reality show?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yes. Five dogs and two cats.
Matthew Munger: Five dogs. Two cats. And how many kids?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: And one kid.
Matthew Munger: One kid, okay.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: My little boy, he is very hyper, he's full of energy.
Matthew Munger: You really are up to this theme of chaos.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yes. My life is a pure chaos, you have no idea, but it's fun. What fun is a normal life without a little bit of chaos, right?
Matthew Munger: Yeah.
Matthew Munger: What is your role day-to-day, and how would you describe what you do to someone else?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Well, to someone that has no idea what I do, I just say like, “I do websites. I build websites. The things you see on the internet. I do that kind of stuff.” How I describe my role, I say that “I try to help clients create a website that tells a story and sells a product,” like that. So I try to simplify as much as I can. There's a lot more than that. But yeah, in a way that people can understand what I do, that's how I describe it.
Matthew Munger: How is using websites to tell stories, how is that different from where you thought you might be at this time in your life?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Oh yeah. Well, I always thought that I would be working in a creative area. When I was younger, I watched, I actually loved to be drawing stuff, so I thought I would be an illustrator.
Then at some point I thought I would be like some person working in an advertising agency, because I graduated in advertising, right? I did a few websites for fun when I was younger. Just because I like it, the experience, like creating something that I interact with. You know, click here and click there and you see some information. But I didn't imagine that I would use my passion for stories, because I always loved stories, comic books, and movies and animations.
When all of them tell stories, I never thought that I would be using that kind of thing to create a website to sell something. And, it's amazing that I can actually do that today. It's really fun and I think that's the sweet spot for me, like taking the things that I love, which is like stories and telling stories and turning this into something that clients want, and that they need.
Matthew Munger: What motivates you about creating those storytelling websites?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Definitely, like I said, I have a lot of fun with stories and telling stories, and I think it's a different approach to what I see in a majority of websites. I see lots of websites that are the same approach marketing websites with the same patterns and the same sections.
And I think people, at some point they kind of develop some blindness to what they see because it's exactly the same. Sometimes they even recognize what the websites are for different products. I think that telling a story on a website, that kind of differentiates you, that helps your business to be more memorable for clients, makes it easier for people to understand your message and your value proposition.
So, leveraging that approach of telling a story to actually sell a product, that's really exciting. Because I can see people seeing the stories being told on a website and being captivated by that and saying, “Wow, this is amazing.” And they want to keep scrolling. I've seen that before, and this is really exciting. It means I'm doing the things that I’m proposing to do, which is helping the clients create something memorable for their visitors.
Matthew Munger: Yeah. Too often we can get caught up in the process of cranking out websites, getting into a template-type thinking where it's like this type of section followed by this type of section with this call to action. You need to be intentional, to take the time to get to know the customer, right? Your client, what they are trying to sell or explain to their visitor, and how you can make that a compelling story that the visitor wants to keep exploring, to keep scrolling down the page.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yes, exactly.
Matthew Munger: Do you have any resources that you think more people should know about?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: I have my Twitter account where I try to share most of my experience, my journey as a freelancer. I try to share not only about the craft, but also about business itself. Because I don't think there's enough designers out there talking about business, how to make money. I try to do that with my Twitter account as much as I can.
And I also have a YouTube channel. I launched a YouTube channel some time ago. I have a few videos there explaining how to do cool stuff with animations and Webflow and other technologies like Lottie and 3D. So I do plan to continue. So I think this is also a good resource for people should they want to follow.
Matthew Munger: What about any resources that are not your own? What are some resources that you find valuable for you?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: The most valuable resources in terms of things that I use in my work is inspirational stuff, right? Lots of people go to the same places to get inspired, and I like to explore different options. Obviously I go to websites like Awwwards and CSC Design Awards. There's other websites that focus on one page websites. There's One Page Love, which is focused on that, like one page websites, Godly, which is extremely high curated in terms of like amazing websites, that's a good resource for inspiration. Behance, but not only for websites, but for other types of visual inspirations like going to the part where it talks about graphic design or illustration or magazine stuff. Exploring other areas of inspiration in the design realm, but not directly related web design. So these are the types of resources that I consume daily to help with inspiration.
Matthew Munger: I can see that you like to get inspiration from a lot of places, you know, from video games and anime, maybe film and so on, visual inspiration from places outside of web design. And then bringing those in can really kind of give you a unique perspective and lend themselves to creating things that people haven't seen before.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Yeah.
Matthew Munger: Who is someone in the Webflow community that inspires you?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: I can't mention just one person. I need to tell, like, I have a list here.
Matthew Munger: Okay, give us a list.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Inspiration in terms of career. Like for example, Joseph Berry, he's a huge inspiration for me in terms of what he can achieve with Webflow and animation interactions. In terms of career here, Joe Moore is also an inspiration. My good friend Daven Fontan is also an inspiration for me in terms of design, and craft, and even in terms of business, how he faced business. I speak with him daily and I get inspired by him daily.
Melissa Mendez who created the Flow Party, which is my fun place to be every week. I made friends there thanks to her because she created this whole small community inside the broader Webflow community.
There's Brie. Brie is starting her journey on design and development, and she's growing a lot and I'm really proud to see her growing. She invests and believes in herself, it's really inspiring to me, and I think everyone should follow her as well. Yeah, these are the people that come to my mind right now.
Matthew Munger: What is some advice that you would like to share?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Just do it. Stop trying to be perfect. Just get it done. I struggled myself to build my own portfolio. For example, I needed to have a portfolio, and I tried to do what every designer likes to do: make your portfolio the state of art, peak of your creativity, like something that shows everything that you can do.
And I spent like three months trying to make the perfect website, learning Three.js, figuring out crazy animations. But at some point I decided that I should stop and just get something done, because I really needed that portfolio to be out so I could do some other stuff.
And I just did my portfolio, the current version of my portfolio, in three days. And I just needed something done, something that showed my work. So I did it three days and launched it and said, “Whatever, this is good enough, this gets the job done and that’s it.” And the reception for that was a lot bigger and a lot better than it was expected.
That is, for me, an example that sometimes being perfect will hold you back. Because nothing is perfect, perfection doesn't exist. What you need to do is get things done. Obviously you need to include some quality on what you do, but like just get stuff done. Like do your best. Put a time constraint on yourself when you're doing some task or some design.
Do your best you can with the time and the resources you have and then just move forward. Because clients, they don't want something perfect, they want something that works for them. Most of the time they're done, it's great, it’s even better than expected. So don't try to be perfect, just get stuff done.
Matthew Munger: Yeah. Done is better than perfect.
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Exactly. Being creative is not a gift. You're not born with creativity. Some people are more aligned with being more creative or not. But at the end of the day, I think that creativity is a muscle. So if you want to be more creative, you gotta exercise your muscle, which is your brain. Do small stuff, but do it every day. Like design a section, design a component, try to design something differently. Try to replicate a website, but do that every day. Never stop designing and exercising your creativity, the more you do, the less you will suck, until you will start feeling satisfied with the things you do.
And until you start finding ways to like break the patterns– Because first you try to replicate it, patterns you see everywhere, and after you nail it down, after you feel comfortable with that, you will start finding ways to break those patterns in a way that still works, and that will turn you into a more creative person. So creativity is a muscle, exercise every day.
Matthew Munger: Absolutely. I would encourage anyone listening to set aside time once a week if you can, even every day. I mean, really do think of it like exercise. You just need to set aside some time. Just focus, try to do a simple task and then keep doing that day after day. And after a month, after year, you'll be amazed at how much you learned or stretched yourself, and how that will impact all the real work that you do during the rest of your day, how that is impacted by just that small investment on a consistent basis.
Matthew Munger: Diego, how can others in the community reach out and connect with you?
Diego Toda de Oliveira: Well, that's easy. I'm always on Twitter. You can find me there. Shoot me a dm, whatever. I'm always checking there. I’m also on the Flow Party Slack community. You can reach out to me if you're there as well. So I'm available, or just shoot me an email, it's on my website.