On a Search

Lately my posts have had a theme of “Focus”. This has been a theme of mine this past year and I’m at a place again where I need to focus on what I’m aiming for even more.

I’m closing Railtie Studio. This is a little anticlimactic as Railtie never got as big or did as well as I had hoped it would. That was completely my fault though. Railtie was an attempt at starting my own business and trying to build something sustainable. However during that experience, I discovered that it’s exactly what I don’t want to do. While I like the idea of being my own boss, I don’t want to run my own business, I have no interest in business development, and I want to do design and development full-time.

With that said, I’m on a search for a new job as a Web Designer/Front-end Developer working with WordPress. I’m specifically looking for a distributed company or a company in the Nashville, TN area. If you know of a business that is looking for someone, please let me know. If you’re a company looking at my profile and wondering if I’m a good fit, please have a look at my Projects.

I’ll continue to take on freelance projects while looking for a new job, so if you need someone with my work experience, please let me know.

Focus

I’ve noticed in the past year that I have a bad habit of bookmarking everything I come across when it comes to new web development technologies. In my day-to-day development I stick to mostly the front-end languages and markup but I’ll bookmark just about anything – from backend web app development, to videos of the new tech hotness that I’ll probably never need, to tutorials on an obscure language I’ve never heard of but that I “just might need some day”.

I have a serious bookmark hoarding issue.

The problem with this approach is that I don’t really learn anything completely. Sure, I know the core front-end technologies, but I would know them a lot better if I truly focused on them instead of focusing on what I don’t need.

My new resolution is to learn only technologies that I need for current projects that need them (brilliant, right?). For instance, this blog is getting an overhaul as it is still too bloated for my needs. It’s WordPress-based, but doesn’t nearly utilize all that WordPress has to offer nor does it need all that WordPress has to offer. Utilizing my new resolution of learning only technologies I need, I’m now learning Pico: “A stupidly simple & blazing fast, flat file CMS.” made by Gilbert Pellegrom. Pico has no database and the content is all Markdown which is perfect for what I need. I’m going to do a full review once I’m done moving over, but for now I feel a lot more focused by identifying a problem and fixing it. I’m not half-heartedly trying to learn something new I don’t need (and probably will never need), but instead I’m actually doing something.

New Job at jlsCreative

This past February I saw an ad on Craigslist for a WordPress Developer position. I got in contact with the post author, he checked out my portfolio, and we met up for lunch. We hit it off: I really liked his business ideas, goals, and design-sense, and he asked me to come onboard to build WordPress sites. I am now officially a Web Developer with jlsCreative!

It sounds almost easy, but getting this job was two years in the making. I was one of those people who didn’t quite know what they wanted to do with their life. I knew I liked working with computers though and so I began my dark descent into life as an IT Tech. That was seven years ago.

Two years ago however, I started something new. I started really attempting to learn how to build websites and I got hooked. Now, after a lot of hard work, I’ve finally made it.

This job, and I hesitate to call it a job since I like the work so much, is awesome.

A New Site

The first domain I bought was my previous site: andrewcodes.com. It started life as a static, HTML-and-CSS-only, one page, fixed-width site. And at that time, that first launch was glorious. It ​was very gratifying being able to release something to the Internet that I created. That first site started the ball rolling of my love of web design and creating for the web.​​

This new site is a little different from my first. It’s built responsive from mobile on up, it has a few pages (with more on the way), and it’s built on WordPress.​ ​This is a scratch built theme using a simple WordPress reset.​ It also combines my landing/portfolio page and my blog (which were separated before as a domain and subdomain, respectively)​ into one site. I spent a lot of time on the performance and load time of this version as you can see below:

The end-goal with this version, is to release it properly on GitHub as an open-source theme. It’s not at all ready as I still have more to learn about Git. But this public theme will be a chance to hone my WordPress and GitHub skills and build something that would be useful to other people.

Thinking About My Web Design Routine

What is your daily routine as a Web Designer? Do you have that routine written down? Is it the best routine that it could be?

I recently read a post entitled The Daily Routines of Famous Writers. I enjoyed Henry Miller’s quote the most:

MORNINGS:

If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.

If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS:

Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS:

See friends. Read in cafés.

Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.

Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.

Paint if empty or tired.

Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

It was refreshing to read about someone who understood their workflow so well; that they had it as optimized and as efficient as it could be. Henry Miller knew exactly what to do when he got in a “mood” and how to get out of it. He also knew what inspired him the most and what activities he could do to get inspiration.

It got me thinking about my own routine as a Web Designer. I do not have my routine written down but reading about these famous writer’s has inspired me to write my own. I’ll be drafting my routine and writing a post expounding on it. In the meantime, do you have your own optimized routine?

Railtie Studio

My wife and I recently started a new project: Railtie Studio.

I had previously built sites for clients under my own name, but decided to make it official (and legit) by getting our business license. I also felt like having an official company name would make our business more appealing to other businesses and clients instead of just my name. So, Railtie Studio was born. We’re a custom web design studio that loves to build sites on the WordPress platform.

The Railtie site is a totally scratch-built theme that has an adaptive and responsive layout. And of course, it’s built on WordPress.

Railtie has been taking up all our spare time but it’s been really fun to have a project to work on together. My wife has been a huge help with design advice and talking through our business practices. Check out the site and let me know what you think!

Run Pace

Run Pace is my newly finished, super simple pace calculator site. Enter the data from your run (miles ran and the time you ran it in) and it will compute your average speed. I needed a site like this because I enter my average speed into the My Fitness Pal app which determines the calories I burned. However, I wanted a site that was visually minimalistic (in the same vein as my other side project, Minimal Tasks) and was really easy to use. There are a lot of pace calculator sites out there but I wanted one that was a lot more simple. Hopefully other people will find it useful as well!

Podcasts for Front-End Developers and Designers

My daily commute to my job is forty-five minutes each way and on days that I don’t listen to music, I listen to podcasts. It’s nice to put that empty time to use by learning something new. Here are my favorite three podcasts that I listen to:

Shoptalk Show

The Shoptalk Show consists of Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert and usually they’ll have a guest on as well. Their focus is on Front-End development, nerdy jokes, “hot drama”, and sometimes Back-End development. Three episodes that are favorites of mine are:

Sometimes the audio quality is lacking but it’s not a deal-breaker by any means.

Draft

A design-specific podcast that focuses on designers telling stories of how they have tackled challenges and how to find inspiration. Besides design, they also talk about interacting with clients as well.

This Developer’s Life

This is a podcast that I just recently started listening to and has a much different feel/tone than the others. Created by Rob Conery, this podcast is more about developer’s telling stories about specific issues in their own careers and on projects they’ve worked on. It’s a show of how developers have overcome their own obstacles and risen above. The podcast is done in a very different format and is a welcome change. Also, the audio quality is absolutely excellent.

Leave a note in the comments if you have any to add to the list.