Developers Are Users Too

Let me paint a picture: Spring 2010, I accepted my first contract with Trevelino Keller. They had a deadline coming up to roll out Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image’s website and the previous web developer was missing in action.

It never dawned on me that being able to read and understand another’s code was a skill set that I’d ever need. I was self-taught in HTML & CSS. I had gone through tutorials and frequented A-List-Apart up to that point. I was used to notes and guidance. I had neither this time, yet I found myself not only having to alter but add to the existing code.

I scrapped all but 10% of it. I couldn’t understand it, what the previous designer was doing and where they were going. There were zero comments. My project load immediately increased by two weeks and I had already agreed on a flat fee for the project.

This project isn’t a key portfolio piece because of the way it looks. I had no say over that matter by the time I came onto the project. I did however have a say in its structure.

“Write the vision and make it plain so that those that read it may run with it.” Hab 2:2

I was told in high school to write my notes so that someone else could understand them. This holds ever-so-true for writing code. I wrote the cleanest code I could. I consider the individuals who build websites to be just as much users as those for whom they are built.

I decided to continue to learn to code for understanding and expansion with ease, not just for myself but for anyone else that would happen to come across my code.


While working as a contractor at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio I had the pleasure of joining my team with two other multidisciplinary teams to recreate the myFranklin portal. myFranklin is the online hub from which the staff of the university could communicate with the students. Here students can receive up-to-date campus news, learn about university events, stay connected with their professors, course mates and keep track of their progress in each course. It’s an online hub to manage your life as a Franklin University student.

The dashboards of professors and students were being revamped, and I had the task of bringing attention to information they user should be able to grasp from a quick glance: progress of class, when things are due, if something is incomplete, what needs attention immediately, what can wait.

The placement of information and how it related to other components of the interface were my guidelines. I didn’t want to move too far away from the previous myFranklin interface and force users to learn how to navigate the system all over again.

I grasped an understanding of what each component meant to each user and in what context that feature would need to take precedence over anything else they could find on the dashboard. University Announcements, for example, were one of them.

The interface also became icon-heavy and I had the pleasure of creating and testing the icons to be used throughout the system for university-specific terms.

Design elements and principles played a heavy part in the enhancement of the student and professor dashboards.