I started making websites in the mid-90s when I was still in high school. I was fascinated that I could put something up on the web and people anywhere in the world could see it if they knew where to look. That feeling still inspires me, even after 20 years.
Since then, I’ve been a designer, a developer, a webmaster, and a researcher. I love learning, and I love sharing what I learn.
What am I up to?
I’m a senior UX architect for Advance Auto Parts, helping to design a new web-based point of sale system and improve their customer-facing e-commerce platforms. Before that, I was a designer, developer, and researcher at startups, consulting companies, and state agencies. I love building things that are easy and fun to use (either with pixels or code).
Over the past few years, I’ve been working on UXcellence. It started as a blog about UX in general, but I’d love to build out a more comprehensive resource for learning about UX, front end development, and building excellent products.
Meanwhile I have several ideas for products I’d like to build, and I occasionally tinker with them before returning to UXcellence. I’d love to have at least one stable product with which to test UX ideas and concepts that I can then write about on UXcellence.
Why would I like a mentor?
I’ve always been a self-directed learner, so I’ve never intentionally sought out teachers or mentors before. Through most of my professional career, I’ve been lucky enough to have great bosses who have supported my varied interests and helped guide me. Lately I’ve realized that I need someone similar for my overall development and personal projects.
I’d love to have a mentor as a sounding board for ideas and writing. I get close enough to ideas in my head that it’s hard to see where the dots aren’t connecting or where I’ve made mistakes (in grammar or logic). Having someone experienced listen to my ideas will help me adapt or improve them before I’ve committed to them.
As a specific goal, I’ve dreamed of having an article in A List Apart for nearly a decade or more. I’ve even gone so far as to submit a finished article, but it wasn’t the right fit. So for now, I’m still trying to figure out what I can write about that would be valuable and novel for that audience. I know a mentor would be invaluable in shaping my next attempt to be a better fit.
I’d also like a mentor because I want to be accountable to someone. It’s easy for my personal development and side projects to slip or get dropped because I let other things take priority for a time. Knowing that I have a regular meeting with someone who’s interested in my progress and growth would motivate me to protect the time I have for them.
Finally, a great mentor can help guide me in areas where I still need experience, encourage me where I’m strong, and point me toward new skills to explore. They can show me what I don't know. They can connect me with the right people, tools, and organizations to help me grow and contribute to the larger web community.
What would I like in a mentor?
Most of all, I’d like a mentor who has straddled design and development and has a passion for accessibility, progressive enhancement, and user experience. I’m writing to apply as a mentee with Aaron Gustafson because I respect what he’s done for the web. He thinks holistically about how design, code, and writing on the web all contribute to the overall experience.