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Chris Coyier is a popular figure in the design community, well known for his blog over at CSS-Tricks and his general all round expertise with CSS and jQuery. I caught up with Chris and asked him a few questions about how he got started with his popular blogs, and to gain an insight into his latest ventures.
Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time be participate on Line25, let’s start with an introduction. What is your background and what do you do?
Hey Chris, thanks for having me. It’s always fun to get a chance to blab a bit about yourself. =)
I’m afraid my background isn’t all that interesting. I went to a state University for graphic design and multimedia design. Out of college there was no way my portfolio was good enough to get a job at a real agency or studio, so I ended up in the printing industry which has been the family business in a sense. I bounced around prepress jobs for a number of years all the while dabbling in web design. I knew that’s what I wanted to do for a living I just needed to get an opportunity. About 2 years ago now that came along in the form of an opening at a small design agency I heard about. They needed someone quick who had a little web experience and I was lucky enough to get it.
You have also established a good web presence through CSS-Tricks.com, how did the decisions to establish this site come about?
Shortly after I started that new job as a “part” web designer (we did and still do mostly print), I was learning a lot and learning fast about web design. CSS-Tricks was born during that era. There is no one reason for it, it just seemed like a good idea all around. Through CSS-Tricks, I was able to share what I was learning, document things for myself, and learn about blogging and networking and advertising and all that through it’s existence. Of course I always hoped it could be successful and make a buck or two as well. I’m very happy with how it’s been going to so far.
You’ve developed a great bit of personal exposure through blogging, with appearances on many high profile sites and articles in the international publication, NET magazine. When did you realise the potential of blogging?
I think I realized the potential right away. I think the day you get your first real comment on a blog you realize the potential. It’s such an awesome tool for getting your ideas out there.
However, never once did I ever say to myself “I am going to start this blog in which to establish and expand my personal branding”. But as cheezy as that sounds, blogs do ultimately have that effect. I like it when blog posts clearly identify the author and make it easy to learn more about them. So that’s what I’ve always done on my own blogs. I suppose you write enough articles with your name next to them, eventually people start remembering who you are.
I notice you’ve landed an exciting position as a speaker at the Front End Design Conference. Can you offer any sneak peeks into your chosen topic or your preparations?
I’m pretty stoked about getting to speak at this event. It will be my first appearance as a speaker, which I sure wouldn’t mind getting a chance to do more often.
Dan Denney, who is organizing the event, said he was hoping to get someone to talk about jQuery. That’s probably what I would have chosen anyway, as I love working with it recently. I plan to talk about and show some simple and real-world examples of jQuery helping make things possible. The way-too-long title I have is “Using jQuery to do what CSS can’t do yet, does poorly, shouldn’t do, or will never be able to do.” If anyone has an suggestions for a snappier title, do let me know.
Constantly pumping out new content can be hard work, where do your ideas for new blog and article content come from?
A good bit of it comes from the day job. Day in and day out we are solving client problems. Clients have a good habit of pushing you up between a rock and a hard place with their needs. It’s my business to provide good solutions in a timely fashion and within budgets. It’s something I’ve gotten very good at over the years. Then the more of it I do, the smarter methods I learn for doing things. Then I go revisit stuff I did a long time ago and cringe and end up re-doing a better way. You can get a lot of ideas that way as well.
But I can’t say enough good about the community around CSS-Tricks either! A lot of the ideas come from all those fine folks. Commenters calling me out on stuff, emails that come in, and the forums are all great sources of ideas. The almighty Twitter is good too, although I don’t think Twitter works very well for extended conversation or explaining complex ideas.
Do you have any plans for any new websites or blogs, or any exciting ideas you’re looking to implement into any of your existing sites?
If I was smart I would probably be planning on expansion and new projects and stuff but honestly, I’m just holding steady right now. If I were to launch a new big project I would fear I would be stretching myself too thin. I love that you’ve been able to expand out to two popular blogs though between Spoon Graphics and Line25. I think that’s a smart move. I plan to keep writing the best stuff I can on CSS-Tricks, sharing the best stuff I can on Script & Style and Quotes on Design and working to make sure Are My Sites Up is the best it can be!
Finally, please list out any social networks where we can connect.
My most active place is probably Twitter (@chriscoyier), which I love. I use it for “microblogging”, in that I share some links and post my dumb thoughts. I try to keep my “what I ate for breakfast” stuff to a minimum, but no promises. I’m also on Facebook, Flickr, and ScrnShots. I have accounts on just about everything, but those are the only ones I actually use.