Another year is in the books, and sticking with tradition, I’m going to reflect on the previous year and record some highlights (both personal and professional) for posterity.
The big highlight of January was the return of New Adventures. Although the focus was largely on the future, seeing a lot of old friends added a healthy dose of nostalgia to the experience.
I was especially proud to be a sponsor and support such a wonderful event. You can check out some of the coverage for more.
In February, we launched our most ambitious project yet, a complete redesign and rebuild of online frame shop Simply Framed.
We really enjoyed working with the team at Simply Framed on this project, especially because their approach to business is so antithetical to the predatory nature of most startups seeking to disrupt an industry. Simply Framed, by contrast, seeks to lift up the framing industry by partnering with frame shops, many of which are multi-generational businesses with deep expertise. This is also a competitive advantage, because the quality is unbeatable.
You can read the Simply Framed case study for more details, including why good URL design matters.
This was an especially fun launch, not only because the website is such a core component of Simply Framed’s business, but also because the launch aligned with Simply Framed setting up a print shop pop-up at the MoMA Design Store in SoHo.
Our friends at Viget invited us to their office for what they call Agency Shop Talk — a chance to share our successes, challenges, and learnings. The candor was nice — there was an earnest desire to share and learn from one another.
We took the kids to Breckenridge at the end of the month. It has certainly become our most popular destination when we want to get away for a weekend.
I flew to South Carolina for Greenville Grok, which was great. I’ve been several times before, so I knew a lot of the people there. Coincidentally, Backcountry Club was well-represented, too. I think this was the largest contingency of us in one place outside of the wilderness.
Immediately following Greenville Grok, everyone from Faculty drove up to a cabin near Asheville for a retreat. We try to strike a good balance of rest, reflection, and planning at our retreats, because an important premise of Faculty is enduring, and that doesn’t only apply to the websites we design and build. While there, Sean introduced me to Super Mario Logic.
We took the kids to Maui, our first time in Hawaii. We stayed in Lahaina, close enough to downtown to walk (even if the roads don’t make that easy.) It’s as great as everyone says. I worked a little in the mornings, since my team was several hours ahead, and we spent a lot of time at gorgeous beaches. We saw sea turtles up close and personal, visited Maui Brewing Company in Kihei a couple of times, and explored various places. Paia was a real highlight. Cafe Des Amis was great, and Mana Foods across the street is reminiscent of the Park Slope Food Coop in all the best ways. Thanks to Agustina (who used to live there) for the recommendations!
We spent a couple of nights camping at Molly Brown. I’ve been to Leadville a few times, but this was the first time I had seen Turquoise Lake. It’s pretty incredible.
The Women’s World Cup started, and our team was so inspiring in every way. They were a joy to watch on and off the field — winning matches, fighting for equal pay and equal rights, denouncing Trump, and generally being a shining example for us all.
I went with Duane King and Doug Wilson to Zeeland, Michigan, to visit the headquarters of Herman Miller. We met up with Amy Auscherman (whose book Herman Miller: A Way of Living had recently been published) to tour the archives, walk the spine, eat at Frank’s, and tour the Max and Esther De Pree House.
We also met up with Ben Watson to tour the Design Yard. Afterward, Doug and Ben went for a bike ride (dressed in Rapha), while Duane, Amy, and I had a few beers. Doug and Ben met up with us after their ride, and we nerded out on design for a few hours before calling it a night.
We won the World Cup! We watched the final — like most matches — on the projector with the sound up loud. The breakthrough came in the second half, when Alex was fouled in the box, earning us a penalty, which Meagan scored. The real highlight came a few minutes later, when Rose — who had been excellent all tournament — received the ball unmarked in the midfield and began sprinting toward the goal. We all knew what coming. Goal!
When Carli Lloyd was subbed in toward the end, it reminded me of her incredible performance in the previous World Cup final, and my first and only viral tweet about her hat trick that was retweeted more than 10,000 times.
My friend Charles visited Boulder and slept on our sofa, which is sadly the extent of what hospitality we can provide, since our kids each have their own room. They tried their best to make him feel at home. When he arrived, the bed was made, and there was a welcome note from the kids.
Charles and I rode to Roost on Friday morning for our monthly Breakfast Club. This was the first time we had an out-of-town guest. It was a great time, and I hope we can invite more friends to join us in the coming months and years.
We took the kids camping again at Moraine Park Campground. I remember enjoying it, but also wondering if we’re ready to take the kids backpacking instead. This might have something to do with the people who drive to a bathroom a few hundred yards away, shining their lights into tents at all hours of the night.
I led the 7th Backcountry Club trip (BCC 7) to Indian Peaks. This trip was especially fun, because a lot of Roost members joined. It was also one of the most adventurous trips yet, because many areas — including Pawnee Pass — were still covered in snow (in late July). In one particularly fun moment, we put on our rain pants and took turns sliding down a glacier. Jesse (”Dirty Jesse”) and Jessi (”Rainbow Jessi”) even raced. (Rainbow Jessi won.)
We went to a magic show at the Boulder Public Library featuring a local magician named Lamont Ream. He’s very good, and I love magic. A filmmaker named Taylor Keating was there to film the show for an upcoming documentary called The Incredible Lamont. For the finale, Lamont asked for a volunteer to come up to the stage, and he picked Tegan. The trick with her is featured prominently in the documentary, so she's now a movie star.
I wrote an article for 99U encouraging people to build their own personal websites:
The best time to make a personal website is 20 years ago. The second best time to make a personal website is now.
I went on an exploratory backpacking trip (BCC 8) with Amit. We did the Continental Divide Loop, and it was stunning. I didn’t know it at the time, but the loop goes right by Grand Lake, so we spent a couple of hours back in civilization before the second half of the journey. I had a latte and a quesadilla, and they were magical.
Faculty was featured in Net Mag, and our friend Simon spotted us in his local newsagent. We felt famous for a brief moment.
We received several hundred applicants for an open position at Faculty. Most of the applicants cited our standards, particularly Good Work, as the reason they were so excited to join. I personally replied to every single person.
I published Leaders Wanted on my blog. (The original version was commissioned for New Adventures magazine.)
Henry joined the team. He calls himself a creative technologist. I would describe him as a designer who codes. And a very good one.
We had a Faculty retreat in Grand Lake. I fell in love with the town when I visited with Amit, and it seemed like the perfect getaway for reflecting and reconnecting with the team. And it gave everyone a chance to meet Henry in person.
We hosted a dinner in Denver for several friends who were in town for AEA. Guests included Dan Mall, Derek Featherstone, Doug Wilson, Henry Desroches, Jason Pamental, Josh Clark, Phil Hawksworth, Rachel Andrew, Sarah Drasner, Val Head, and me.
Things got pretty busy at work. Keybase Book was an especially fun project, and I think it has some of the clearest explanations of fundamental cryptography concepts anywhere. We also redesigned Delve Fonts.
We went to Breckenridge over Thanksgiving, and I skied! I bought some gear online and spent several days watching Ski School videos in preparation. They’re really great and cover beginner topics in great detail, like how to put on your boots and how to carry your skis. I feel like the instructor, Darren Turner, is my personal instructor.
As has become tradition in our family, the kids went to Neptune to see Santa. As a fun twist, kids have to climb up a climbing wall to get to him.
Here’s hoping for a wonderful 2020.