MakerSlate began with my desire to create a simple and nicely-designed résumé for myself that I could use to help land a job or consulting projects. After looking at a lot of templates and tools, I decided that nothing quite fit the bill and it would be better to design my own résumé than compromise with something off the shelf.
Beginning the design process, I thought about how I could present myself in the best light. While I don't have a huge network, an Ivy league degree, or any unicorn startups in my work history, I have designed, built, and worked on a lot of interesting applications over the years across a range of technologies, platforms, and industries. So that's where I decided to focus. I tried to design a great platform for showcasing my projects and skills, and get everything else out of the way.
Aside from playing to my strengths, this approach also matches up well with the motivations of someone who makes hiring decisions. If you ask these people what they care about the most, the proven ability to execute is nearly always at the top of the list. They want to know what you've created and get a sense of how you think and solve problems. So, why not give them exactly what they're looking for?
After settling on this direction, it occurred to me that there might be a lot of other developers and designers out there with a similar desire for a simple, project-oriented résumé. And so MakerSlate was born.
I designed and built MakerSlate from the ground up. The back end is Rails 4 with PostgreSQL, the front end Coffeescript and React. For styling I used Sass and Bourbon.
The main challenges included getting everything looking and working nicely cross-device and cross-browser, implementing smooth and performant image uploads by posting directly to an s3 bucket, and ironing out weird states and edge cases in the scroll-based search interface. Oh, and marketing. Always marketing.
BobVila.com is the website of home improvement celebrity Bob Vila.
We took a deep dive into the site’s user experience and analytics data, uncovering many lucrative candidates for optimization. We used Python to model the complex flow of traffic through their home improvement slideshows, a key source of revenue for the site. We were able to produce many new insights on how users move from slide to slide, and which actions (or non-actions) make the most impact on revenue numbers.
Responsibilities included product strategy, a user experience audit, an analytics audit, an email marketing audit, data analysis, financial analysis, and user experience design.
This product was undertaken as part of Smooth Conversion, an agency I co-founded with @LennonRubin.
Foreign Policy Magazine is a leading voice in US political journalism.
We partnered with media consulting firm Mishkin Associates to audit FP’s website and email marketing strategy. After discovering that their checkout form was seriously underperforming industry averages, we redesigned and helped implement a new form. To be sure our redesign was more effective, we ran an AB test against the original form... and beat it by 39%, an improvement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to FP’s bottom line.
Responsibilities included product strategy, a user experience audit, an analytics audit, an email marketing audit, data analysis, financial analysis, user experience design, user interface design, front end development, cross-browser design and testing, ab test design, and project management.
A collaboration with my wife @AnaLisSalotti. Ana was scheduled to give two presentations at the American Translators Association conference in Miami, FL, one on translating for Antarctic Ocean conservation organizations, and one on the theory and practice of subtitling.
This is a massive conference with thousands of attendees, so it was a great opportunity for Ana! But the bad news was that do to months-long procrastination on both our parts, Ana had no website. And there was only a week left until the conference!
Simple design principles, some nice photos and fonts, and Squarespace came to the rescue. I also designed her some simple business cards, which didn't come out great in print the first time... I'm not sure if it was my fault or the printer's, but I need to figure out what's up and try again.
Ana had a great conference. Her talks were the talk of the talks, and she even secured a good-sized translation project after knocking a prospective client's socks off with her awesome new website!
Aside from the web and design work, I also made myself useful by helping to dice up and synchronize various video clips and subtitle files for the subtitling presentation.
Ana and I collaborated on this... and all in all I think it was a relationship-strengthener! Though I have to say she can be a bit cutting with her design criticism, she's usually right in the end.
The website was done with Squarespace over the course of a few days.
On the invitations, I learned a bit about print design, the constraints and the process, which was fun. I've done a lot of web and app design, but because I have a rather minimalist style, I don't have much practice at imparting a loud and festive feeling, so it was great to get some more experience thinking purely visually without having to worry as much about function.
Genie is a mobile web app that uses social search to deliver fast and personal recommendations on everything from local restaurants to learning photography. I led design and development on Genie’s product from the ground up. I collaborated with @LennonRubin as part of @SmoothConv agency.
GoJotter for iOS was a tool for finding, sharing, and staying up-to-date on events in your area. Events and venues could be browsed, searched, and filtered according to date, distance, or popularity. When you found an interesting event, you could "jot" it, which added it to your calendar and later sent you a push notification when the event was coming up.
I designed and built GoJotter's iOS app and an accompanying NodeJs api from the ground up. The app made heavy use of Core Location and geospatial queries, multithreading, and a very custom ui that required getting pretty deep into the ios graphics stack.
I frequently consulted on product strategy and marketing decisions, and helped to monitor and draw insight from analytics data. I also designed and oversaw two Facebook ad campaigns that brought thousands of users into the platform.
Perchwell is “the real estate decision engine”. It provides extensive tools for searching and analyzing the jungle that is the high end Manhattan real estate market.
I led development on Perchwell’s super-powered Elastic Search-backed search ui and "PerchPrice Calculator", a tool that lays out the true financial cost of of a property, in addition to developing other features all over the site. I also helped determine launch strategy, manage a remote development team, and implement regular code quality reviews.
Responsibilities included product strategy, system architecture, back end development, front end development, user experience design, project management, and code quality review.
OneShift Jobs is an Australia-based jobs-matching startup with over 300k users that I worked on for several months as part of the @WeAreBrandNew agency.
Areas of responsibility included a webcam-based interview and recording system, an in-person interview scheduling interface, work on a responsive mobile version, making rails scale, writing tests in rspec, and doing code reviews.
Go learning project. Simple implementation of a promo code generator and validator for giving reviewers access to in app purchase protected areas of an iOS app. Minimal query string based authentication and short, easy to type promo codes.
Uses MongoDB hosted via MongoHQ Heroku addon with mgo for persistence and gorilla/mux for routing.
My first iOS app and my first solo product. Pro Golf Scout helps serious golf fans do research and statistical analysis on US and European pro tours. The app was built in Objective-C and makes extensive use of CoreData, SQLite, multithreading, and the CorePlot charting library for data visualization.
Results and statistics are kept current by a server written in Python that relies on Amazon EC2, S3, and CloudFront for low-latency data sync.
The app didn't sell a lot, but my marketing struggles taught me a lot of extremely valuable lessons on what it takes to sell a product. For instance: building something useful and cool doesn't mean much if you can't find a cost-effective way to get the word out.
TheBestDay is a social planning tool that aggregates your group's scheduling preferences to figure out the best time to meet up. It also helps everyone involved stay connected and up to date until the plan is a success.
I helped plan and build TheBestDay as part of the Sydney-based @WeAreBrandNew agency. I worked at all levels of the stack, from user experience design to database modeling to test-driven app development and implementation of an ajax-driven user interface.
I led architecture and development on BackchannelMD, a tool for sharing and collaborating medical case information, consolidating knowledge, and enhancing medical education. Used by Duke University, NC State, and other institutions.
I helped create a content-rich case interface that supported hi-res images and videos with custom-coded frame-by-frame and slow motion viewing. Cases included a question and answer system that allowed BCMD to be used as a virtual medical classroom facilitating discussion between professors and students.
Files were managed through a fully ajax interface and validation platform that securely and fluidly uploaded files directly to Amazon s3.
WILD was the first application I ever got paid to build and I always think back on it fondly. WILD stands for Wordsmyth Interactive Learner's Dictionary. It's a richly illustrated dictionary world, full of varied environments and games that teach vocabulary and grammar concepts visually and interactively.
I led the architecture and development of the client-side Flash application. I also built a number of games and a desktop data editor that allowed editors and illustrators to construct and edit world environments on their own without technical help.
The user interface was very custom and required building a lot of components from the ground up, which frequently meant getting deep into the grimy details of flash graphics programming.
For an app designed for children, it also required a surprising amount of data processing. Dictionaries containing thousands of word needed all kinds of slicing and dicing into various structure and formats.
Probably my favorite part of this project was getting to create some small games. Collaborating with illustrators, editor, education specialists, I helped come up with concepts and mechanics, then brought the designs to life.
Energy in Common was a non-profit Kiva.org like organization that provided a platform for making and tracking small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. EIC focused specifically on loans for clean energy projects that helped entrepreneurs grow businesses and better serve their communities while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.
I came to the project after some of the site's basic infrastructure was complete, but with a long way to go before launch. I partnered with @LennonRubin to architect and develop the site's social networking, marketplace, and financial infrastructure using Adobe Coldfusion and MySQL 5. The design was done by Ancient Wisdom Productions (@AWPNY).
EIC never became a huge household name like Kiva, but it did operate steadily and successfully for several years with a small and passionate core of users who loaned many thousands of dollars to dozens of hard-working entrepreneurs, and the infrastructure we built proved to be solid and reliable I'm proud to have been a part of it!
Poker Enlightenment was a poker coaching and discussion site that I co-founded with @LennonRubin after a 5 year stint as a professional poker player. It was my first foray into tech and business, and though it was ultimately unsuccessful, it inspired me to become a professional developer and continue building new products.
My main responsibility, and the first real app I ever programmed, was a flash-based application called PokerMind that allowed users to graphically analyze poker hands.
Tasks required to build the PokerMind app included:
-Modeling the decisions of a poker dealer to decide whose turn it should be, what actions are available, amounts that can be bet, managing the pot, etc.
-Calculating odds, storing notes on players and actions.
-An algorithm for determining the winner of a hand.
-Saving state in "actions" so they can be replayed later, along with loading and deleting actions.
-Persisting hands to a Coldfusion server with a MySQL database.
-An algorithm for processing hand history text from online poker sites into an action sequence.
-Designing the ui and accompanying icons.