TL;DR -> I design and build web and mobile applications, care about timeless design—both visual and functional, and draft positive and engaging user experiences–whether users are other developers or end users. I’m a Denver, CO transplant in the San Francisco Bay Area (Sonoma County).
In a nutshell, I design, build, and maintain web and mobile applications. I design in a couple ways and at what level really depends on the stage at which I join a project. If I’m in at the conceptual phase, I contribute with feedback and sometimes wireframes. Most of the time, I land during the development phase, once design is complete and it’s time to design the application architecture. I specialize in building SaaS applications and have come up with a great formula for getting projects off the ground quickly. Since I’m usually working alone or on small teams, I tend to lean heavily on frameworks, libraries, and third-party services. This doesn’t mean I won’t “roll my own” when needed, but my formula generally works really well for most projects. For more info, check out my full list of services.
Like a lot of developers, I started by designing and building websites ages ago using Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I didn’t go to school for design or engineering and honestly didn’t think I’d be doing it for very long. I fell into project after project because people needed help with their websites and I was kind of good at it. I learned new skills and technologies only as needed. It was the lazy approach.
My sorta-niche in the web design industry was that I designed and programmed everything from scratch when a lot of other people were using templates. Initially, I built static HTML sites with minimal CSS and JS, and slowly learned how to build my own templates using Wordpress and PHP. If a client wanted something, I usually said yes and learned how to do it. I learned complex interactions, styling, form submissions, and how to build plugins.
The more I learned, the more people wanted to me to do weird shit. For example, while living in Denver, I learned how to write ActionScript and use Flash just to make epic spash screens. Remember those? I also built an interactive video player where people could purchase products right inside the videos they were watching–an interesting concept that still hasn’t seen the light of day.
In early 2012 I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and got work in the tech industry. My first job in SF was at a backup and recovery company called eVault as the website manager (i.e. webmaster). I worked on the website a little bit but spent most of my time in meetings planning projects and negotiating with other team leads. I really missed being hands-on and making things. Even though I really liked my teammates, I didn’t enjoy the work.
At the time, I had pretty decent design skills and ok programming skills, but was conflicted about choosing a discipline going forward. Ultimately, I chose programming because I wanted to learn more about how computers work, which led to a junior web developer job at WalmartLabs. That’s where things really started to come together for me, although, I’m still not sure it was the right choice. The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know. Design would’ve been the easy thing for me to do and there are times I yearn for ease.
While at Walmart my core responsibilities were building HTML/CSS/JS modules for walmart.com, which were mostly fancy banner ads, product carousels, and special promotional pages. In my spare time designed and built web and desktop apps for the creative, site merchandising, and marketing departments. It was a lot of fun and super challenging. It was like running a little business inside Walmart. After a while I didn’t have to build those silly modules for the website because I built an app that let merchants build their own modules without having to write code. I also built another cool app that helped speed up the image resizing process for product images. That app saved billions of dollars*.
After working there for a couple years, I decided to get a job at smaller company so I could focus entirely on app development and hone my skills by learning from more experienced developers. I landed a job as a “Software Craftsman”–a fitting title, with a company out of Toronto called Influitive. They had a satellite office in SF and because of my entrepreneurial-_ish_ background I got to work on the Moonshots team, which was like a little startup inside the main company. The five of us conceptualized, designed, and built a new content creation and distribution plaform called Upshot Stories. You can check it out the landing page and read some stories but it’ll cost you some serious $$$ to actually see the app. Sadly, our team was ununceremoniously disbanded shortly after launching due to funding constraints. We never got to reap the benefits of how successful our product had become. A few months later, I was hired back on as a contractor to help with ongoing feature development and maintainence, which was some consolation.
For the past few years I’ve been working remotely and semi-remotely as a freelance developer in Sonoma County, Petaluma, and San Francisco, California. I’ve been a prototyper, maintainer, pinch hitter, architect, and leader. I’ve designed a few things and built many things. I still have so much to learn about software engineering and spend a good chunk of time studying computer science and programming. It’s a never ending, bottomless, and sometimes stinky pit of learning and I think that’s why I like it so much.