Recent pages from the journal
26 August 2009
I have the awesome opportunity to work with the Mozilla team in helping with their redesign. Happy Cog did all the initial work, and the new Mozilla.org launched just last night. Now I get a chance to work on designing and building a few areas of the site as well. My first blog post considering one of the new pages is up on the Redesign Mozilla site right now.
24 August 2009
In 2007, at An Event Apart Chicago, Jason Santa Maria and I were talking over some pints about typography on the web, and in particular about how challenging it is to discover good typefaces. They are out there, but there’s no good way to find them! I said “we should make something to do that” and he said “I already have something in the works”.
A few months later, I found myself working on Typedia (which was already well underway) with a small army of fellow web designers & developers. Jason describes Typedia quite concisely:
At its simplest, Typedia is a shared encyclopedia of typefaces. Think of it as All Music or IMDb for type, but created and curated by everyone.
I remember back in college when I read The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. There was one recommendation in that book that really resonated with me: Consider the subject matter when choosing a typeface. For instance, if you are designing a book cover by a British author, consider using a typeface designed by a British type designer. This means doing research. Unfortunately that’s pretty challenging, and increasingly so, with new foundries, type designers, and typefaces, and no centralized repository of information.
We built Typedia to solve that problem. Typedia isn’t just a catalog, though; rather it’s built to be grown by you. We made it easy to create an account and start adding information. Know the foundry behind Centaur? Add it! Have a few spare minutes over your lunch break? Tag some typefaces to make searching easier.
We built Typedia with ExpressionEngine (surprise surprise), though the list of enhancements, tweaks, and customizations we added is extensive.
It’s taken years to get this project launched, but it’s easy for us to see that this is just the beginning. We can’t wait to get your feedback and start tweaking things to make it even better.
We built Typedia with a forum so we’d love to interact with you there, or you can drop us a line at the contact form. And follow us on the twitter too, of course.
10 August 2009
After three full years of working for myself, I’m now joining forces with Happy Cog. I’ve enjoyed working for myself so much over the years. It’s been exciting, successful and extremely fun. For those reasons, I never really looked for a “real job”. The idea didn’t appeal to me. I knew if someone came knocking and actually lured me away from this career, it would have to be someone special. So when they asked me if I wanted to move to Philadelphia and work at Happy Cog, I told myself that this time I should really consider it.
Let’s slow down for a sec. In fact, let’s rewind back to 2003 or so. I was living in Alaska and I started reading a book about web design by Happy Cog’s founder, Jeffrey Zeldman. You may have heard of it. I thought to myself, “This stuff makes sense and I should do it”. A few years later, I decide to quit my job and do this stuff full-time.
A Match Made in Austin
In 2007 I got a chance to meet a bunch of the Happy Cog crew and we hit it off very well. Well enough, in fact, that in the fall of that same year I started doing some freelance work for them and shortly thereafter got the exciting title of “Strategic Partner”. We continued to enjoy working together on projects here and there, while not-so-subtle hints kept coming up from some of the people there that I should really just pull up stakes and come work there full time.
Back in July, when Daniel Mall left Happy Cog to work at Big Spaceship, the topic came up again. It just so happened at the time I had a trip planned out to Philly anyway for some Happy Cog work, so we turned that trip into a bit of an extended interview. It wasn’t long till we all came to the conclusion that our working together, in a more permanent situation, would be a good idea.
I was giddy.
Starting in September, I will be working full-time at Happy Cog East in Philadelphia. I’ll be doing a bit of design, lots of front-end work and some CMS work too. Basically, all the stuff I love and do right now, minus the whole “running a business” part.
Are we not still Being Good and Not Bad?
I’m wrapping up all my existing commitments with Be Good Not Bad, and basically winding down most of my work. I will be open to a few limited projects on the side, but definitely an emphasis on “few” and “limited”.
We are very excited about this new chapter. I had no idea when I wrote this blog post what, exactly, 2009 had in store for me.
2 July 2009
Back in January, I got to spend some quality time talking shop over coffee with my good friend Dan Cederholm. He mentioned to me he was writing a new book. No more than a handshake and a latte later I had the honor of being on board as technical editor for the book. It is called Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design and comes out next month. No comment on the rumors that Dan’s latte might have been spiked.
I’ve been reading Dan’s books for years. I bought both Web Standards Solutions & Bulletproof Web Design right when each came out, and each has been extremely influential in my work. Dan doesn’t just tell you how to implement a solution, but also why we might consider doing it that particular way, and what are the pitfalls of some of the other methods. That kind of stuff is hard to do, but Dan does it so extremely well.
This new book is a little different in that it jumps right into details of how we can make websites better through craftsmanship. It takes a forward-looking view of some of the fancy new methods and tools we can be using and how to use those tools in such a way that degrades nicely for browsers that, shall we say, aren’t quite as forward-looking.
It gets better. Ethan Marcotte, the Unstoppable Robot Ninja from Cambridge, wrote a delightfully magical chapter about fluid grids. It will melt your brain in all the right ways.
One exciting part that I had zero hand in is an accompanying DVD, called Handcrafted CSS: Bulletproof Essentials. They come bundled or separately, your call.
It was truly an honor to edit this book. While I was working on it, I kept thinking, “I cannot wait for people to get their hands on this.” It was a great experience for me and I believe the final result is worth a few of your hard-earned dollars.
More information can be found at the companion site and Twitter feed. Also, check out Dan’s announcement, on his blog, and Ethan’s, on his.
Last note: I don’t get any royalties from the publisher or anything, but the links to Amazon in here are referral links. So if you order via these links, I’ll get a few dimes or so. Many thanks if you do!
19 May 2009
These are gorgeous. Probably too awesome to ever get adopted, but it’s great to see people really re-thinking how things should look. I also love that he ditched the $1 bill and upgraded most of the president’s denominations. Bonus: They’re usable for the blind.
8 April 2009
Again, over 30,000 people responded to the A List Apart Survey and now the findings have been published.
If we, the people who make websites, want the world to know who we are and what we do, it’s up to each of us to stand up and represent.
They improved the survey this year with better questions, making the findings clearer and more relevant for full-time independent web professionals. I’m glad to see the A List Apart crew is making this a regular thing. This data will only become more important as add on the years of results.
Last year the findings were presented in PDF form, but this year we get a special treat. It’s all on the web and Eric Meyer did some serious elite ninja work taking regular table data and turning it into beautiful graphs. If you want to dive deep into the technical details, check out his post about his process. Well done sir!
I implore you, go check out the results. Even if all you read is the first page, I guarantee you will get something good out of it.
28 March 2009
A huge thanks to all who came out to Refresh Denver this week for the talk on Freelancing. We had a bit of a hiccup as Josh wasn’t able to make it. He sent me a text about an hour before I left the house saying that he would have to cancel since he was at the doctor finding out the gender of their baby (due this summer). Sounds like his priorities are right where they should be.
I sweated a bit while I reworked our presentation into notes on my moleskine, since I also found out, just then, that we might not have a projector.
Thankfully there was a fantastic turnout and you guys were extremely gracious, chiming in with lots of questions and comments. We got into a nice lively discussion, and it seemed like most everybody enjoyed themselves. I mentioned a few of the thoughts and points that Josh wanted to bring up, so he was there in spirit too (by the way, it’s a girl). So thank’s again, I had a great time!
21 March 2009
I’m speaking this Wednesday at Refresh Denver on the topic of Freelancing. Josh Pigford of Sabotage Media will be joining me. We hear a lot about people who are considering leaving their day jobs, already have given notice, or possibly have been laid off. Lots of those people are considering making a go of it as a freelancer, so we thought we’d tell a bit about our experiences and field some questions about it.
We don’t want to sound like we know all there is to know about this, so if you’re a seasoned indie, then by all means come and chime in with your expertise.
Either way, if you’re in the area, I hope you can make it. It should be a fun time.
Refresh Denver is at Forest Room 5 @ 6pm this Wednesday, 25 March 2009.
5 March 2009
We’ve been busy this year so far. Not just a little bit busy, but crazy-go-nuts busy. It’s been fun and we’ve had some great opportunities to work on some fun projects. There is also a half-finished redesign for this site sitting there, taunting yours truly, begging me to find some free time to work on it. “Soon enough, little guy,” I say.
Busy is good. We like busy. But at some point I realized that something needed to give if I was going to stay moderately this side of sane, as well as get to spend time working on the business and other internal and side projects.
Enter Derek Balmer. It’s no secret we like collaborating with other freelancers. For as long as Be Good Not Bad has been around, we’ve been doing just that. With Derek we hit a sweet spot. We work great together and his skills blend nicely.
So we made it official and the big news for us is that we’ve brought on Mr. Balmer to work with us on a part-time basis. Derek recently left his day job to go indie, so we have no illusions about luring him into anything full-time. In the meantime, though, we are thrilled to have him on board. Derek has some amazing visual design prowess, and the front-end coding chops to back it up. We just wrapped up a project that turned out downright awesome thanks to Derek.
I’m sure 2009 has more surprises up its sleeve and we’re looking forward to it.
11 February 2009
A few months ago Devin Reams asked me to speak at WordCamp Denver and I heartily accepted. WordCamp is a one-day conference held at the Denver Art Museum in Downtown Denver on February 28th 2009. The topics cover all sorts of issues, from design to development, and not exclusively Wordpress stuff either.
I’m super-excited to be a part of it and it should be a really great time! I’ll be sharing the stage with Kevin Menzie, Jeremy Harrington and the very same aforementioned Devin Reams for the Design Panel. Our topics won’t be super Wordpress-heavy, more about design issues in general, client relationships, and designing outside the box with publishing systems.
I’m told there are only a small handful of registration slots left, so if you’re interested in coming, make sure to sign up now. Check out the schedule, speaker line up and how to register at the WordCamp Denver site.