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Q&A with Keir Whitaker

Designer Advocate at Shopify

Photo: all rights reserved by Dan Edwards

My name is Keir Whitaker and I spend the majority of my time working at Shopify (a hosted ecommerce platform) in the role of Designer Advocate. This sees me helping designers and front-end developers get the most out of the platform as well as running workshops and attending conferences.

Additionally I am one half of Viewport Industries, a two person side business formed in 2011, which published Insites: The Book in 2012, runs small web industry events focused on sharing experiences and in 2013 launched Digest - a new lifestyle magazine aimed at the web and design communities.

I also co-host a bi-monthly podcast with my friend Kieran Masterton called The Back to Front Show.


My current setup includes a 13" Mac Book Pro Retina, external Apple Thunderbolt display and Logitech mouse. I travel quite a lot for work so the MBP is perfect for my needs - powerful and light. Previous to this I ran a 13" Mac Book Air into the ground.

For the podcast I use a Blue Yeti microphone which is attached to a desk mounted stand.

Along with requisite iPhone and iPad that's it - a pretty simple setup.


Beyond the usual e-mail clients and web browsers I regularly use:

  • Alfred - A great Mac utility
  • Audacity - Audio editing
  • Audio Hijack Pro - Recording podcasts via Skype
  • Camtasia for Mac - Screencasting
  • Dropbox - For all my files
  • Droplr - For sharing screen grabs quickly
  • FreeAgent and Xero - Business accounting
  • GitHub - Source control
  • MAMP Pro - For PHP projects
  • Mixture - The best front-end development tool!
  • Skype - Chat
  • Spotify - Music
  • Text Expander - For boilerplate code, email and more
  • Total Terminal - For SSH
  • Tweetbot - For occasional tweeting
  • Sublime Text 2 - Code editor

Dream setup

Having grown up in the days when a laptop was the size of a small suitcase I am of the opinion that new Apple laptop I buy is my dream setup.

A large screen retina display would be nice - one day!


Travel, family, books, films all help. I don't have a traditional design background but have over the years studied the history of subjects like film, graphic design, magazine design and modern architecture. Clean and simple designs have always fascinated me, in particular the Modernist movement. Signs and maps and strangely any design related to travel always inspires as does my constant desire to read new magazine titles.

Beyond that I find brands such as Ace, Virgin and Red Bull hugely inspiring. To see how they have expanded outside their initial core business to build great brands that we buy into via great design, marketing and products is fascinating and a great insight for any business.