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Q&A with Noah Stokes

Front end development | Design & Development Studio Bold

Hello! My name is Noah Stokes. I'm a designer, developer and partner at Bold, a small studio in California. I've been working in the industry for nearly a decade now. Most days I am neck deep in client work, which I love. Each new project is an exploration of creativity. Lately we've been doing a lot of projects for NPO's which has been extremely rewarding to see how our work can help these organizations do good work in their community.

Software / hardware

I've been a Mac user for as long as I can remember. I started on an Apple IIe when my dad brought one home from school. We quickly moved on to the original Macintosh and I've been in love ever since. Well, except for that one time I bought a PowerComputing machine–that was a dark time in my life when I strayed from the cult. But I'm back now, and I'm loving every minute of it!

My current hardware setup is going on 4 years old but it's still screaming fast and suits me just fine. I use a 2010 MacBook Pro with a matte high resolution screen and an SSD drive. I swear that SSD drive is what makes this machine still feel so fast. I usually always have it hooked up an 30" Apple Cinema Display. It's the last of the large monitors that is still a matte display. I can't get into the glossy displays, so I'm holding onto this thing until it up and dies on me. I use an extended Apple keyboard, you know the kind with 10-key pad on the side. I use that all the time when doing CSS work, typing in all my numerical values. Oh, and yes, it is the wired keyboard. I can't do anything wireless. I've never had a positive experience with anything Bluetooth. Oh wait, I take that back, I do use an Apple Trackpad to the left of the keyboard in order to use a lot of the great gestures that are built into Mac OS X.

My last piece of hardware is my mouse. My mouse has a special place in my heart. It's an old Logitech MX300. Just the other day I lovingly scraped off all the dead skin that had accumulated on the scroll wheel :D Totally gross, I know. It's wired (of course) and when you scroll the wheel it clicks with every scroll. It's like 1995 in a mouse. I wouldn't have it any other way. I slide that bad boy around on a giagantic mousepad that I got from a client. It's 24" by 18". Takes up nearly a quarter of my desk. Let me tell you what, I never have to worry about my mouse running off the mousepad!

My desk is from Cost Plus, a nice dark wood veneer I'm sure. I'm not a standing desk guy, so I sit my rear in a Aeron chair that I got off Craigstlist during the last dot com bubble burst. They were a dime a dozen back then.

© Noah Stokes

On to the software. I live in these applications daily.

SublimeText 2: I use 2 because I haven't had the time to upgrade to 3. Also, why fix it when it ain't broke. This is the best editor out there hands down. 
Adobe Photoshop CC: I finally made the jump to CC after living in CS4 for as long as I could. I see a lot of folks trying alternatives to Photoshop, but in my mind that's a waste of time. Photoshop is and always will be the standard. Get used to it. I personally really enjoy it and haven't ever had an issue with it. Probably my awesome SSD drive that makes all the things awesome.
Chrome: I somehow managed to make the move over to Chrome, but only for development. At one point I developed in Firefox exclusively. Let's not talk about that.
Safari: I use Safari every day for my general web surfing. It's the best.
Slack: All internal Bold communications happen via Slack. We've been through the gamut of these types of apps, and Slack is the bees knees.
Rdio: I can't get through a day without listening to some music. Rdio is the best streaming service on the planet. I have discovered more new music that I could have ever imagined thanks to Rdio.
Dropbox: Needs no explanation.
MAMP Pro: For the past few years we've been doing all our development locally using MAMP Pro, but just last week we started using Vagrant. So right now I'm cheating on MAMP Pro.
Vagrant: Create custom silo'd boxes for development. Yes, please. Works good for me. Gets my email, and makes me feel overwhelmed just like any good email client should do.
Terminal: All my Git workflow is done through the terminal. Partly because it's fast and it works. But mostly because I feel like a cool hacker from that movie with Angelina Jolie when I use the Terminal.
ColorSchemer Studio: I use this sweet little piece of software a lot to grab colors from my screen and get them into HEX value. When doing design work, I use it to create a color palette. Super handy and functional.
iOS Simulator: This is the iPhone/iPad simulator that comes with XCode. I use it to test my work on those devices. They can access any of my MAMP or Vagrant sites so it's fast process to test against any of those devices in a local environment.
Tweetbot for Mac: Love the Tapbot guys. Love this software. It lets me read tweets and tweet things.

Dream setup

My dream setup would include a machine that only exists in my dreams. A 27" iMac with a matte display, a Fusion Drive (SSD + HDD) for the office. I'd likely plug in all my existing devices, ditching the wireless for the wired. For portability I'd run with a 13" MacBook Air. All my projects would be synced between the two machines via Dropbox or through our Git server. Dream setup, indeed.

Work inspiration

There are a handful of designers who I think are the best in the game–I definitely look to their work for inspiration. I absolutely love any work that has a focus on the details whether they be present or removed from the work. Studying those little details inspires me. Color is something that I am always impressed by. The perfect color palette is so elusive. I look through photography for colors in nature to pluck from. Lately I've also been into surf culture and style and have recently subscribed to a few print magazines to dive into the design style of that world.

People you admire most

In terms of doing good work, I admire my peers Harold Emsheimer, Naz Hamid ( and Dan Mall ( That group always produces fantastic work–consistently. In terms of folks consistently giving back to our community I admire Sean McCabe, Ryan & Tina Essmaker and Carl Smith.