HTML 5 / CSS 3
If it can be done using HTML and CSS, I can do it. I’m primo at this stuff. Mobile-first, flexible layouts.
Most of the HTML/CSS work I do these days takes place in the context of templating systems or frameworks, but that doesn’t diminish their importance as the foundational vocabulary of front-end web design.
But then one afternoon, when I was debugging a sloppy mess, I realized I was a coder. I was writing code. And I liked writing code. So why not learn to write good code.
So I decided to expand my front-end development capability and started treating JS more seriously, and since then have turned it into a proficiency.
I love doing it, and want to do way more of it.
Check out my Ladder.loader utility function as a quick example.
I’m a big fan of using static site generators to build websites, distributing them using a CDN, rather than running the site on a dedicated server.
I have a lot of experience using Hugo and Jekyll as static site generators. They’re both great. I’ve played around with others as well.
I’m a huge fan of using Netlify as a build and content distribution tool.
I use Github to manage codebases—it integrates fantastically with Netlify.
If I need a server-side style work done, I like spinning up AWS Lambda, and using Node.JS to do the job.
There are a bunch of good client facing content managment tools. I’ve found Foresty.io to be a good option for most.
Snipcart is a good way to handle online commerce.
JAMstack is cool, but I like Wordpress too. I’m not a PHP whiz, but I’m a champ at using it for templating Wordpress themes.
I claim no expertise in building out complicated, high-load back-ends, but for small projects, it’s really easy to toss up a virtual private server on Digital Ocean or Linode, install Apache or NGINX, and serve up a Wordpress site from there.
Depending on the client, there are times when the best solution is actually a service like Squarespace. It’s limiting in lots of ways as a developer, but if you play by its rules, Sqaurespace can empower clients who need something made quickly that can be modified easily.
Design is all about having process & vision—it’s about coordinating art, typography, copy, & structure with goals & technical constraints. You can create execution silos for the different disciplines of making a web app, but there needs to be someone there who knows how all of those things interact in a deep way. That’s me.
Ultimately it comes down to caring about what the user cares about, and understanding how to get them to care about what you care about.
I’ve been designing sites for a long time, but have recently put an emphasis on web design as being one of my core skills. I’m tool agnostic, but find myself using Adobe XD & Adobe Illustrator for wire-framing. I also like Sketch.
Graphic Design is hard to wall off, because it’s in a grey area between a lot of skills, but at it’s core Graphic Design is about being able to create and execute visual systems across different media.
If you look through my portfolio you’ll see both consistency and diversity. Distinctive work that pulls in the same direction. This is what you want a visual system to do.
I’m an Adobe guy, so my design workflow revolves around Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, & Adobe Indesign.
My style as an illustrator is high-contrast, shape-driven illustration. Good colors are the key to impactful, efficient art.
I’ve specifically developed my illustration skills to ingrate with my design goals. I tend to start with vector files, and layer in textures only when I actually want to go bitmap. Layers of flexibility.
The most valuable currency for an illustrator is time, and I have experience doing shippable quality illustration for the web with very quick turn around. If you check out the crypto illustrations i did for the Block, most were produced in 2-4hrs.
I’m a good documentary and environmental product photographer. I shoot really lean—typically just an old Fuji XT-1, a few fast prime lenses, and sometimes an off-camera speed-light flash.
I consider my photography abilities to be a bonus skill.
My niche is being the type of guy who can go in quick and get some good shots without the hassle of setting up a big shoot with a full-time pro photographer.
I also take beautiful pictures of my cats, which, as you well know, is a fundamental internet skill.
Good copy is a vital part of any design.
People get bored easily. They don’t like reading.
So you have to trick them into reading. It’s not easy.
You do this by keeping it simple.
Once you’ve earned their attention, you can start adding in a few subtleties and flourishes, but not until you’ve earned it.
I spend most of my time on design and illustration these days, but I went to school for copywriting, and have leaned on it ever since..
Animation on the web has a lot of technical constraints. So it’s really important to embrace those limitations.
Animation is a time sponge—you can always spend more time on an animation to make it better, but you can achieve really cool effects, with relatively simple animations. As a designer, it’s important to know how to use animation in strategic, effective ways.
If you want a delightful demonstration of my web animation chops, check out my demo site: This Will Be Fun.