The Quick Six with Chris Coyier
Six Quick Questions with Chris Coyier
Recently I had the chance to ask Chris Coyier some quick questions, get his take on a few things within the web design industry, and see what he has been up to lately. Chris, as you may already know, is an extremely talented man who wears a number of different hats and has his hands in many different projects. Perhaps most notably, Chris is the curator behind one of the most well known web design communities CSS-Tricks. It was a pleasure to get to speak with Chris and I thank him for opportunity.
The Quick Six
Shay: Your a big fan of WordPress, and have even written a book on it. Have you ever thought about releasing any WordPress themes? Perhaps selling them?
Chris: Between me and Jeff Starr, my co-author on Digging Into WordPress, we’ve done a number of themes at the Theme Clubhouse. Most of them are free, a few come with the book. None of them are super duper complex or amazingly designed. They all have some sort of niche purpose. I could see possibly doing more themes in the future, but honestly, I generally prefer working on projects that have some specific purpose beyond “this is a cool looking theme.” If I ever did spend a bunch of time on a new theme intended for public use, it’s hard to say if it would be a freebie or for sale. There is a lot of benefit to either way!
Shay: You recently left your day job to venture out on your own. Shortly after you were hired by Wufoo, a company you have grown quite fond of over the years. What has the process been like, heading out on your own and then being offered a job you could not refuse? What is your position over at Wufoo, is anything in particular that you will be doing?
Chris: Wufoo has been great. It’s a real honor to get to work for a company like this. When I did decide to leave my last job, it was in knowing that I needed a change and that I had the luxury of just doing nothing for a while if I wanted to. The only thing that was going to break that plan was a job offer that was really perfect for me. I turned down some pretty dream-level jobs just because they weren’t a good match for what I wanted my life to be like. Wufoo is a perfect match for me in that the job matches my life and that the product is one that I love.
My job title at Wufoo is Lead Hucklebucker. We basically have joke titles because what is in title anyway? We all work to improve the Wufoo application itself, improve awareness of the Wufoo, and to improve the experience and community of Wufoo. Specifically, lately I’ve been working on some industry-specific landing pages, rethinking our forums, our API contest (August 2010), and researching HTML5 forms.
Shay: You have built quite a few web apps over time, one being Are My Sites Up? Do these ideas stem from some of your basic needs or are they something you generally feel would be useful? If needed, how do you go about finding the right help to build out the app?
Chris: It’s a combination of building something that will be useful and that has a decent chance of “making it” because there is enough of a market for it that you can charge for it and make money. I would never want to be working on something that I didn’t personally find useful, but there are things that you personally would find useful but have no chance in the market. In the case of Are My Sites Up?, I was working at a design agency at the time and we would promise our clients that we would monitor their websites. I thought the world could really use a super simple service for that. I have a friend who is really into building apps and was down with the idea. We both thought there was room in the market for this (we actually had no idea how many competitors there were until we were out the door with it). I’m no longer involved with AMSU (just got too busy, needed to cut some things), but there was absolutely room in the market for it and it did pretty well.
I’ve fortunately never been in the position where I had a great idea but nowhere to turn to get it built. My ideas usually stem from things I already know how to do myself or that I currently have people around me who I know can do it. A friend of mine once had an idea to build a site where it would analyze a picture of your face and tell you what celebrities you look like. I basically shrugged it off because even though I thought it was kind of a fun idea, I know that I don’t have those kind of skills or know anybody who does.
Shay: One of the best resources for us web designs and developers are books thanks to some tremendous authors, yourself included. Do you have any favorite web design and development books you would recommend? How about any books unrelated to web design and development?
Chris: If you are into learning straight up CSS, CSS Mastery and Handcrafted CSS are the ones you want. If you are starting with jQuery get Learning jQuery, let that sink in about 6 months, then do a comprehensive review with jQuery Enlightenment. If you are just interested in design theory, I think you should go to college and get a degree in Art! You have to learn design by designing a lot of stuff, you can’t learn that in a book.
Shay: You have your time wrapped in quite a few different websites and projects. Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? Any particular activities that help keep you refreshed and relaxed?
Chris: I love playing music. I can play a variety of acoustic instruments and I’m finally at the point where doing that is relaxing instead of frustrating (as it is when you are just starting to learn and can’t do much). Otherwise I like a lot of normal people things like live music, good TV, good movies, sporting events, good food, etc.