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Q&A with Jon Q

UI Developer from Toronto | Designing a character

Hi there! My name is Jon Q, and I'm a designer/developer from Toronto who works with the amazing team at I also enjoy random doodling and dabble with character design.

How did you get started in UI/front-end? 

I'm actually not really sure how I got started with UI/front-end, it all sort of "happened". Growing up, I loved art, specifically animation and character design. My dream was to one day work with the talented folks at Disney / Pixar. One day, I created an account on this ancient website called "Geocites", which allowed to make my very own custom designed space on the Internet.

I started out with absolutely zero HTML knowledge, but thanks to the Internet and the lovely people behind Google Search, I was (slowly) able to pick things up and put things together. I loved it.

I didn't think I'd be able to make a career out of designing/building simple web pages (although, I'm very glad that it worked out), but I figured it was more realistic than joining Disney / Pixar. I can draw (some of), but I ain't THAT good, ha ha.

I eventually went on to learning about PHP, jQuery, proper vanilla Javascript, functional programming, OOP, and MVCs (basically in that order). I'm still learning - a lot (every day actually). The web technologies and trends evolve so quickly, it's pretty tricky to keep up and learn all the things - but it's definitely a lot of fun.

What software and hardware do you use for your work?

I think my setup is pretty simple. For code work, I use Sublime Text 2 (tried Beta 3, but sticking with 2 for now) as my code editor coupled with iTerm for command line work. For design work, I use Illustrator for graphics and Sketch for UI prototyping / flow design. Personally, I prefer designing in the browser - it's just a lot more efficient for me. So I rely very heavily on things like npm, Bower, and Grunt.

Time for harware! I do all of my work on a MacBook Pro Retina (2014 I believe? I'm not sure). My "battlestation" is comprised of a Cooler Master Novatouch keyboard and a pair of mice. A Logitech M570 mouse and a Gigabyte something mouse. I cycle between two mice, depending on my mood and what I'm doing.

What is your ideal work environment?

It's hard to say! I've been doing remote work for years now. A public environment (like a coffee shop) is quite nice as it provides some subtle ambience while I'm in my own little world doing my thing.

Top-3 your favorite books  / resources

(Pulls up Kindle)

  • One of my favourites is "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman. I got the audiobook version (as I'm lazy to read things on my own), and I'm listening through it for the 2nd time. Don doesn't talk about computer-based design specifically, but the topics, lessons, and philosophies can/should definitely be applied to web/app design.
  • "Don't Make Me Think (Revisited)" by Steve Krug is another great one! This one is more user experienced based, and provides great tips on UI/UX design and simplifying / improving app experience and usability.
  • "Rework" by Jason Fried is brilliant. Unlike the previous 2 that I mentioned, this one leans a little bit more on the startup/business side of things. Regardless, it's packed with amazing advise and approaches to figuring how to design/developer application features.

Who are the developers you admire most?

  • John Resig.. cause.. jQuery. Insane.
  • Mark Otto, one of the creators of Bootstrap. The level of commitment he has to this open source project and the sheer impact it's had in the web development/design world is inspiring to say the least.
  • Jared Spool. His talks on user experience are amazing, not to mention, he's incredibly charismatic on stage! If you haven't already, check out (at least) one of his videos on Vimeo. The talks are a little on the longer side (40-60+ minutes), but they're worth it.