On a macroscopic level, 2017 was not the most favorable year in terms of morality and humanity in my opinion. However, I try to look at the glass as half full. I have seen people care more about what is going on in the world and about the rights of other human beings. I hope that continues, because at the end of the day, humanity should come down to feeling loved, happy, and healthy and wanting that for others, too. In order to do that, we need to help and care about others. Keep doing that.
On a more personal scale, 2017 has been a great one. It has been another year of learning in the world of web design. I am fortunate to work with wonderful people on some amazing projects. Here are some of those accomplishments from the year:
- Celebrated my 2 year anniversary switching from meteorology to web development working with my brother, Brad Frost at Brad Frost Web.
- Finished up building my first design system for ExxonMobil in early 2017. Probably the experience of 2016-2017 where I learned the most, felt the best about our code after building it, and really enjoyed working with their team and my team.
- Redesigned the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative website and style guide. I built the front end of the site and the corresponding style guide. It was an honor working with their fantastic team and very humbling to be surrounded by so many interesting and intelligent people. It gave me a better perspective of the Harvard brand and how truly welcoming and down-to-earth the folks were there.
- Built my first Shopify site for a friend and local company in Pittsburgh called Puzzle Pax. I had worked with Jekyll before so using Liquid was fairly straightforward and it was the first site taking on the design, development, and CMS work without another person to back me up. It was a great learning experience and favor for a friend.
- Built a Jekyll site in twelve days with Brad for the Brian Forde For Congress campaign. It was the quickest project turnaround I have had and to be honest, was fun to build and put the pressure on. It was also great meeting Brian and reading about his views on the country and his accomplishments.
- Started building a design system for a company that eventually didn’t use anything we helped build and went in a separate direction.
- Other various projects and tweaks. Pattern Lab demo development. Frost Finery website tweaks. Helped a tad bit with the redesign of bradfrost.com. Helped Brad build out a few components from several different sites the day before a workshop on design systems. A few other personal/internal projects that tend to get pushed to the side when bigger projects come to fruition and then returned to later.
- Took more than 100 trips to the post office and fulfilled well over 1,000 Atomic Design books (also helped redesign the shop page to its current state in Shopify). Very proud of Brad’s success with the book, but man, a week without going to the post office would be great.
It has been a fairly busy year. It has been a year where I feel like I have finally settled into web development, while still feeling like I do not know enough about it after looking at the incredible stuff other people are creating. That being said, I am looking forward to my current and future work in 2018:
- Redesigning a larger company’s websites and building a design system alongside these sites. I am enjoying working with my team and we are doing some really awesome things with implementation of patterns into the actual site.
- Redesigning a friend and local company’s website. The current site needs a lot restructuring, love, and responsiveness, so I am looking forward to helping him out and hopefully improving his user experience, ability to write content using a proper CMS, and business in general.
- Potential web site and design systems projects are in the works, but nothing is set in stone at this point. I’m always looking forward to helping people out with a website redesign, style guide, or design system work. I learn something new from each experience.
- I hope to redesign this website, because I haven’t had much time to dig into it and it hasn’t been designed since Brad set it up for me when I was a meteorologist. I started, and like many other lower-priority projects, it got pushed to the side. I really wanna get this done so it doesn’t look terrible.
- I hope to share what I’ve learned with other people somehow. I’ve thought about teaching a basic WordPress class or the way we build websites, but I’m not sure what I want to do yet. The web community has been great to me the short time I have been involved in it and I want to do the same for others. Helping people is one of the reasons I got into meteorology and I want it to continue with web design as well.
I have been very fortunate to work on some pretty amazing projects, but they wouldn’t have been as amazing without my teammates. I also want to thank the speakers at Clarity Conf. Thanks to these special people:
- Brad Frost – Always thankful to have him at my side (literally, since we sit next to each other in the office) building great things on the web. Always grateful for him allowing me to work with him after I moved back to Pittsburgh. It has been a cluster of fun, mistakes, learning from these mistakes, lunch break jamming, late nights, and organized, thoughtful web work. Over 2 years working together and we still haven’t beaten each other up. I guess the 18 years of sleeping in the same room helped with that.
- Dan Mall – An amazing designer, project head, colleague, and, most importantly, friend. I’ve had the honor of working with him on several projects and he never fails to amaze me with his designs and knowledge in general. Whether we are in a project meeting or playing basketball north of Philly until 2am, he’s a great guy to be around and I am thankful for that.
- Josh Clark – An awesome project manager, facilitator, project politics absorber, colleague, and friend. He’s the guy who could make your worst day into the best day. He can turn the mood of a bad meeting into butterflies and rainbows by the end of it. I am grateful for him for allowing me to work on projects with him as well as picking me up when I my confidence slips in the wrong direction. You da best.
- Jesse Gardner – A fantastic WordPress and backend guy who I worked closely with on the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative project. A guy I can now call my friend after working with him. I appreciate his willingness to help me out when I needed it and for putting up with my requests when I was feeling a bit behind or confused. Definitely a guy I would like to keep around since he is a positive influence on people’s lives and knowledgeable about WordPress and SEO stuff. Thanks for the good work!
- Kevin Hoffman – The guy that I had heard a lot about from lots of people but never had the opportunity to work with until the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative project. He is a magician with UX, strategy, and pulling people into his very organized methods for working together. He’s a guy who I could talk to about random, goofy subjects when I was feeling a little out of the loop when conversations turned to the topics like Bitcoin. You know you will be friends with him when you pull a Lady and the Tramp with a donut in Boston. Thanks for your help!
- Abby Fretz – An awesome producer who would make sure to DM me in Slack to make sure I got my shit done on the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative Project. Super down-to-earth and very professional, she knew how to keep everyone on the same page during the project. I am happy to now call her my friend. Thanks for always keeping me on my feet and keep making that honey.
- Octavius Newman – A great designer and comic book/movie guru. Was a pleasure working with you on the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative project. You have such a thirst for knowledge. I envy your ability to ask questions and speak up when you don’t know something or when you have an opinion. Thanks for being a good dude and friend.
- Jamie Kosoy – What can I say about him? He’s a ridiculously talented developer who has been building web stuff since the 90s but somehow manages to take the time to teach someone like me who is newer to the game. I am thankful to get to work on our current project together and hope to learn more from you. I’m glad that we can goof around and do incredible work together. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Crystal Vitelli – Am awesome person to handle the politics of a big project like the current one we are working on. Great with strategy as well as making sure our team knows what is going on from all of the angles information is flowing in from. While we haven’t talked much, it has been a pleasure getting to know her and I look forward to building great websites and design system with you. Thanks for all you do.
- James Hall – A very talented backend developer who somehow managed to understand what we were writing on the front end and implement it into the actual website. I’ve appreciated the random movie/television quotes and GIFs as well. Glad our humor is on the same page. Thanks for the help with this current project.
- Jon Jackson – An up-and-coming designer who I had the chance to meet before we even worked on this current project. He is someone who wants to learn from anyone he meets and has done a great job on this current project. I can relate to him since he is newer to the web design world, so it is great to see the parallels there. Thanks for helping with the design of this current project.
- Mary van Ogtrop – Fantastic copywriter who seems insanely busy but somehow manages to make time to talk to you about writing copy. While I haven’t talked to her too much during the project, it is great to work with a copywriter to see some of her process and I look forward to her continuing work. Thanks for helping with the project.
- ExxonMobil Team – Working with them was awesome. It was a great experience building the design system along with them, hearing their questions and concerns, and transforming our project plan based on their feedback. It was also great eating Torchy’s and listening to Journey together.
- Harvard Business School Digital Initiative Team – I can say nothing but kind words about them. They are all some of the smartest people I have met, but they also are some of the nicest, down-to-earth people I have met. They didn’t make themselves out to be more important than anyone else on the project and were a fantastic group to work with (especially since they brought in delicious donuts…twice). Thanks for being a wonderful and cooperative group to work with.
- Clarity Speakers/Organizers: Jina, Cameron Moll, Debbie Millman, Una Kravets, Abi Jones, Cap Watkins, Diana Mounter, Elyse Holladay, Henri Helvetica, Isha Kasliwal, Josh Silverman, Linh Yao Pham, Mina Markham, and Miriam Suzanne – Thank you all for a great conference and for sharing your knowledge with me. I learned a lot. It was a pleasure getting to know some of you and I look forward to seeing what great stuff you continue to build and talk about in the future.
Thanks to these folks and everyone else who made 2017 a fantastic year. I don’t know what will happen in 2018 but let’s keep creating, building, and making the web great! May everyone have a safe holiday and a happy and healthy new year!