Having been making things on the web for nearly two decades, I have a lot to be thankful for. As we gather with family and friends today to celebrate all the things we are thankful for, I want to take some time to publicly thank the many, many people and tools who have contributed to my own career and passion for the web.
Thanks to my professors and coworkers for their trust and mentorship: Dr. David Wendelken, Jim Yucha, Tom Illmensee, Chip Trout, Archie Miller, Bogdan Stanciu, and Chris Brown
Thank you to AOL and Earthlink and many other early ISPs in the 90s for giving web hosting space to every customer. Without that simple gift, I may not have discovered the true wonder and opportunity of the web until much later; being able to publish my own website for anyone to see was truly the start of my career. Thank you to my many peers and professors at James Madison University for encouraging me to push the boundaries of my own knowledge and pursue new skills. Thank you especially to Dr. David Wendelken for advocating my early acceptance into the Media Arts and Design program. Thank you Dr. Wendelken again for encouraging me to take the magazine class that was absolutely essential to building my passion for writing, editing, and producing beautiful products with amazing teams. Thank you also to my family at The Breeze for several fun years of building one of the best college newspapers around.
Thank you to Jeffrey Zeldman and the Web Standards Project for pulling me up from a low point in my passion for the web. As I contemplated a future mired in nested tables, font tags, spacer gifs, and browser wars, the Web Standards Project drastically (and rapidly) shifted the landscape of the web to something I felt passionate and excited for again. Thank you to Eric Meyer for producing the amazing CSS book I turned to for help time and time again.
Thank you to Noah Grey for creating Greymatter and spurring my first blog so many years ago. Thank you to Ben and Mena Trott for creating Movable Type and taking blogging to the next level. Thank you to Matt Mullenweg for creating WordPress and yet again transforming blogging into the massive community it is today. Thank you to all of them for being willing to open source your software and letting anyone contribute.
Thanks to these people who had a major impact on my career direction: Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Veen, Jason Fried, Mandy Brown, and Ethan Marcotte
Thank you to the amazing community of the 2004 and 2005 SxSW conferences. I’m proud to have met both past and future heroes and shared hallway plugs there. In particular, I’m proud to have spent time (however briefly) with Ethan Marcotte, Dave Shea, Matt Mullenweg, and D. Keith Robinson there. Many of the talks and panels there influenced me, but none more so than two separate presentations by people I hadn’t heard of before the conference. Jeffrey Veen’s The Frontiers of User Experience first introduced me to the phrase User Experience, and his talk enlightened me on just how powerful listening to and empathizing with users could be in building better things on the web. Jason Fried then placed the final nail on the coffin of my previous life as a mere web developer when he talked about Interface Design: The Three Little Thingies. I immediately bought both The Elements of User Experience (by Veen’s Adaptive Path co-founder Jesse James Garrett) and Defensive Design for the Web (from 37signals) and devoured them before I’d even gotten home from the conference. They completely changed my perspective on designing and developing for the web and set me on the path I’ve been pursuing ever since.
Thank you to the many amazing resources for learning about the web: A List Apart, Signal vs. Noise, Webmonkey, Smashing Magazine, CSS Tricks, and so many wonderful individual blogs written by passionate designers and developers. Thank you to Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer again for creating An Event Apart, which has been a constant source of inspiration (often from afar). Thank you to Mandy Brown for your amazing stewardship and editorial direction at A Book Apart, which is easily the best print resource for web design and development now. Thank you Ethan Marcotte for responsive web design, which has once again transformed how I think about design for the web.
Thank you to many former colleagues for your faith and mentorship. Thank you especially to Jim Yucha at Virginia Commonwealth University for trusting me and letting me build several of my first web applications from scratch. Thank you to Tom Illmensee, Archie Miller, Bogdan Stanciu, and Chip Trout for being amazing mentors in user research, user experience, and product design at Snagajob. And thank you to my long-time friend Chris Brown for pushing me to apply and helping me get the job there!
It’s easy to get mired in the everyday pain of testing across multiple browsers and devices, supporting legacy applications and platforms, and watching major companies make the same easily avoidable mistakes. But if you take a moment and look back just a decade or two, we’ve come a long way as an industry, and we have a lot to be thankful for.
Who are you thankful for?
Whether you’re travelling, cooking, or just relaxing in front of the television, take some time today to thank the people who have helped you get to where you are today!