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Q&A with Tim Wright

Web developer and designer - more focus on development

I’m a hybrid web developer/designer (with admittedly more focus on development), and an active writer, speaker and teacher. I typically write for the likes of: A List Apart, Smashing Magazine and SitePoint where you may see me droning on about CSS, JavaScript, Responsive Design, or even my new favorite: Environmental Design. I also wrote a book called Learning JavaScript for Pearson Education not too long ago, which is a beginner-level guide to getting started in JavaScript. I’m currently the Development Director at a Boston-based UX agency called Fresh Tilled Soil where I host a weekly podcast called, “The Dirt,” and have daily battles with buzzword-filled client meetings.

I love the challenge of experience design in all its forms from user flows to pricing models to database performance and accessibility.


My current set up is a MacBook Air, which I know, probably seems underpowered for any real level of development or design, but hear me out. I love being able to work wherever I want at a moment’s notice and not lug around a heavy machine to do so. By designing by workflow to be super lightweight, it allows me to have a slightly smaller machine. It also forces me to be very aware of screen real estate when designing.

For my non-computer hardware I have a pretty standard desk from Ikea and a comfy chair that faces a window, which makes me take breaks on long coding sessions to look outside. More often than not, I find myself working from the couch, which is why I don’t put a ton of time into setting up my workspace. As long as there’s some natural light, a cool breeze, and my laptop I’m usually good to go… oh and of course a good pair of headphones.

I’m also a big fan of index cards and post-it notes when doing any architecture, it helps me a lot to spread out cards all over the floor.


Ever since I started building and designing for the web, I’ve tried my hardest to be as software (and platform) independent as possible so I can get up and running without a laundry list of things I need. I certainly have my preferences, but I keep the number of services to a minimum. Day-to-day I use: Coda 2, Git, Sass, and Fireworks for design/wireframing. I recently started using Bourbon, a Sass mixin library as well.

Even though it takes quite a bit for me to switch off of something (there needs to be a clear benefit elsewhere) I always make sure I’m not married to anything I use. If I had to boil it down to what I actually need to do my job, I can confidently say, “A terminal window.”


My dream setup would be on the balcony of a penthouse apartment overlooking the ocean, with my whole team and me kicked back, feet on the railing with laptops and a whiteboard… and plenty of power outlets.


My personal inspiration comes from everyday frustrations. I subscribe to the camp of, “if you’re not willing to change something, don’t complain about it.” If I catch myself getting frustrated with a piece of software, a plugin, process, or experience flow I’ll try and come up with a better solution. If the solution is legitimately better, I’ll share it with anyone through my blog, articles, and talks. None of our ideas are worth a damn if we don’t share them with other people.

None of our ideas are worth a damn if we don’t share them with other people.