Thursday, July 14, 2016

Audio: How I Stumbled Upon the DIY Designer

Since I've recently begun using the term "DIY Designer" in an official capacity, I thought it would helpful to provide some background information. For example, how I came upon the DIY Designer, why I am so passionate about equipping them, etc.

Rather than do a blog post, I decided audio would be a better medium. Plus, you get to hear my lovely voice.  :)

I hope you enjoy this casual recording - and please don't hesitate to post any questions!

FYI (3/10/17): My friend's website,, which I mention in the audio file, is currently going through a redesign.

How I Stumbled Upon the DIY Designer | .mp3 | .m4a  |

P.S. You can learn more about the characteristics and struggles of the DIY Designer via this blog post.

The Future of the Web - And Why We Need to Equip The DIY Designer Now

Recently, I've started delving into CSS Grid, Flexbox, and the future of design on the web. Mostly in part to the amazing material of Jen Simmons, who I saw present at the recent Web Design Day conference.

As a web designer, the emergence of these tools (for lack of a better word) excites me. Why? Well, I don't know about you, but I'm tired of making the same 'ole responsive layout! Hero graphics, three buttons in a row, content centered down the page, etc.

In fact, when I created the Savvy Side Projects website not too long ago, my original desire was to mirror a publication. I wanted a multi-column layout, stunning typography, etc. For inspiration, I got on Pinterest and pinned all these really cool, awesome magazine layouts. But then, when I went to create the site using our good 'ole friend Bootstrap ('cause #habits), I ended up boxing myself in and creating something far from what my imagination originally wanted.

Of course, having immersed myself in Jen Simmons' material since, I realize I could have achieved a fair portion of that concept using some of the techniques she touches on. (And someday I will probably go back and redo the site accordingly.) But what excites me is this -

Friday, July 8, 2016

DIY Designer Defined

If you're reading this post, chances are you landed here through a link I shared somewhere out in the digital universe.

Since I've started using "DIY Designer" as an official term - and since I'm all about simplicity - I decided to house the definition in a permanent location. This way, I can link to it from multiple places and you can read it anytime, anywhere. I've also included why the emergence of the DIY Designer is an amazing opportunity for the professional industry, and things you can do to help equip them. (If you so choose.)

Note: At some point, I probably need to come up a snazzier term that rolls off the tongue a bit easier. But for now, DIY Designer will do. 

Characteristics of a DIY Designer

So who am I talking about when I use the term DIY Designer?

In a nutshell, a DIY Designer has the following traits:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Creative Standing Desk Solution

Standing desks are currently all the rage - and for legit reasons. Humans are simply not meant to sit all day. It messes with our metabolism, our spines, and even our sanity. (At least it does for me!)

After dealing with some recent back issues, I decided to hop on the standing desk train - at least as far as my home desk was concerned. However, standing desks are not cheap. Don't get me wrong - there are some nice options out there. But between the desk and delivery, you can easily spend $500-$600. Also, most include the ability to adjust the height, allowing you to switch between sitting and standing. I wasn't interested in that feature, however, so why pay for something I wouldn't use?

I scoured the Internet for do-it-yourself options but most of them were ugly. (Like, really ugly.) Or, in the case of the options I found on Kickstarter, expensive - even for something that sits atop a current desk.

So, in the end, I did what Jenn always does - I went my own way - and this was the result.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Just Start: Momentum Attracts Momentum

I'm a Type A personality. I like things to be planned, organized, and perfected before execution. I also live in an age where news travels at lightning speeds. Thus, a person's work can be hailed or booed on a variety of social networks before Google has had time to crawl the page.

In addition, people naturally share the best of themselves online, thereby creating the facade that everyone has it together when, in fact, they are muddling through just as much as we are.

It's no wonder, then, that the idea of starting something - whether it's a project, a business, or something else - can die before it even has a chance to be born. (Which, personally, has been the case for most of my life.) We want everything to be perfect before we dare to move a step forward, lest we be seen as far from stellar or less than knowledgeable. We also want to know what the ending will be; we want a safe and secure outcome.

But that's just not realistic. When are things ever perfect? When can we predict the future? Even the best laid plans are often blown to bits by this thing called life.

What we need to do is just...start.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The IT Industry: A Lady in a Man's World

The Daughters of Downton Abbey, photographed by Jason Bell for British Vogue.

I'm a female.

Seems like an obvious statement, right? Yet I tend to forget that I'm a female in a male-dominated industry. Mostly because I can hold my own, as I'm accustomed to challenging situations. I also happen to get along better with men than women. And I can Tweet about Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and superheroes with the best of 'em. (As I enjoy those things!)

This past week, however, several incidents have reminded me of (a) the unique position that I hold, and (b) the challenges even ladies like myself must face on a daily basis.

I. See Yourself as A Valuable Asset

Ladies in Tech (@ladies_in_tech) recently retweeted the following posts:

Women should spend more time thinking of themselves as assets and less time being "so grateful to be here"

Per @GloriaFeldt Women work 22% longer on a project than men before they feel they should get paid. They make 19% less than men. #AZEC13

The first Tweet really punched me in the gut for two reasons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Not Good Enough: Designer Self-Doubt

Self-doubt. It's something we all struggle with in every area of our lives including our professions.

I am no exception. 

My story begins in December 2007, when I obtained my B.S. in Graphics Technology at the age of twenty-seven. I was married and living in West Virginia at the time. I had only completed one semester of college after high school, so once we were settled in West Virginia I enrolled in a local college. Initially, I pursued a degree in Business Administration. I had held several retail management positions so it seemed like a logical choice. However, I quickly realized that Business Administration wasn't quite my thing.

I flipped through the college's degree book, wondering what major to pursue next. As I did so, I started to reflect on my younger days when I had been super creative. Drawing, writing, and even creating dance routines to Paula Abdul. (Don't judge me! You know you did it, too!) So with a "What the heck!" I switched my major to Graphics Technology and never looked back.

However - I was in West Virginia. Where the only artistic culture is arts and crafts, not modern design of any kind. Heck, even if you want modern furniture you are out of luck. Everything is country, country, country.