Chris Shiflett en-us Chris Shiflett is an entrepreneur and web developer focused on building community and bettering the open web. Monday in Boulder Yesterday was the first day of spring break.

On Mondays, I like to get to work early to prepare for the week. Roost, my coworking space, has a new home in the Steel Yards. We live on the opposite side of town, in South Boulder, so my commute is about half an hour by bike. It’s a nice time to be alone with my thoughts.

Since the kids are out of school, Christina took them to the Museum of Boulder, where they spent hours in the Google Garage. She offered to bring me and Jace (a friend who’s in town) a late lunch from Shamane’s, my new favorite lunch spot. A little after 1:00, she texted:

Have to go all the way back to the museum because Riley left something.

It didn’t occur to me until later that Riley’s forgetfulness was a blessing in disguise, because my whole family was safe at Roost when we first heard the news: there was an active shooter at King Soopers, our local grocery store.

Close to home doesn’t fully capture the emotion, but I can’t think of anything better.

Although it was only yesterday, I don’t remember too much about the first few hours. It was all so surreal. There were tears. Updates came rapidly and in many forms. I was so thankful that my family wasn’t home, or worse, dropping by King Soopers on the way home—a scenario that’s so likely it’s terrifying. (The kids love any excuse to do so.)

Christina was responding to all the incoming texts from friends and family who wanted to know we were safe. It became clear pretty quickly that this was national news. I used Twitter to let everyone know we were safe at Roost on the other side of town, and we planned to stay until it was safe to go home.

Christina is active in the local chapters of Mom’s Demand and Everytown, and she had a meeting about what was happening. I set up a computer in one of the meeting rooms for her and set up Netflix in another room for the kids. I walked to Fresh Thymes to grab some dinner. The kids watched Waffles + Mochi. It was the best we could do to make things feel normal for them.

Once Christina’s meeting was over, we decided to try to make our way home. It was difficult to determine if the roads near our house were still closed, but at least it was safe. Christina took Riley in the car, and I took Tegan and Killian in the bike. She called as I was getting close to the scene—police were telling her there was no way to get home. I offered some additional suggestions for routes to try, and we hung up, hoping we’d all make it home safely.

The bike path pops out on Table Mesa, just west of the closed intersection. I had planned to go around, avoiding as much as possible, but we were blocked in. Knowing how much trouble Christina was having, I decided the best way to get home was the one way I wanted to avoid—biking right by King Soopers. What seemed like hundreds of emergency vehicles of various sorts were all flashing their lights. The front of the store was destroyed. The gravity of the situation was clearer to the kids than it had been all day.

Safe at home, all five of us in one bed, kids crying. Christina checked in on a handful of parents, so she could reassure the kids that their friends were safe.

Helicopters overhead woke us before the kids this morning. Our little neighborhood is on the front page of every major newspaper in America.

Christina had a planning meeting for a vigil being held this Thursday at Fairview High School, after which she and the kids brought flowers to all the shops at Table Mesa they could get to.

All of the people in the shops we dropped off flowers to were so grateful and so emotional.

Me, too.

Tue, 23 Mar 2021 16:16:33 -0600
Black Lives Matter George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. So many others. Their murders are tragic, and racism toward Black people is as pervasive as it is horrible. We must do everything we can to eradicate it.

I have been silent these past couple of weeks, listening and reading and watching and learning, but I am inclined to agree with the sentiment expressed so eloquently by Desmond Tutu:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Remaining silent makes room for other voices, but it also supports the status quo. Each of us has a voice, and that voice can be more powerful to our own circles of influence — however small — than the voices of others, even if theirs are more eloquent, more refined, and more important.

Here are my thoughts.


It’s important to understand why people are angry. This Twitter thread provides some insight into the injustices that Black people face in America. This Twitter thread simply asks, “how old were you when a cop first pulled a gun on you?”

If you want to speak out against violence, make sure you heed the advice of Randall Telfer and get your priorities straight:

You keep saying, “it’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property has to stop.”

Try saying, “it’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but killing innocent black men has to stop.”

Police brutality and the leaders who are encouraging and glorifying violence deserve nothing but our strongest condemnation.

In short, if you’re angry at protestors, I encourage you to educate yourself on what is really happening and why.

What can you do?

I am so inspired by all of those who are protesting, risking their safety against the dual threats of police violence and COVID-19, but you don’t have to protest to make a difference. Whether it’s speaking to friends and family, donating money to bail funds, or committing to anti-racism, there are plenty of ways to help.

What can we do?

Real change takes all of us.

Vote. Of course we need to defeat Trump and his enablers in November, but as President Obama reminds us:

The elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

In that spirit, one thing you can do at the local level is advocate for the immediate adoption of these eight policies that can decrease police violence by 72%. Meaningful change takes time, but if your city adopts these eight policies, it can make a difference now.

Black Lives Matter.

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 09:39:05 -0600
Leaders Wanted In the best companies, everyone is a leader. Decisions are made by those best suited to make them, everyone feels trusted and respected, and a shared purpose provides unity and motivation.

I’ve been trying to be a better leader my entire career, and I still have much to learn. Nevertheless, some lessons I’ve learned along the way have stood the test of time, and I’d like to share them with you.

Mind your morale

Morale is a currency; spend it wisely.

One of the most important responsibilities of any leader is to manage the morale and energy of the team. If you’re a freelancer, self-awareness is key, because you must manage yourself, and tending to your own morale is critical to your success.

Managing morale doesn’t mean avoiding hard work. In my experience, providing an environment that lets people do their best work is what keeps morale high.

Decide who decides

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities help everyone. A leader’s job is to trust the right people to make the right decisions, and to provide the necessary context to do so.

When someone is a designated decision-maker, they are more likely to listen carefully to other views, because they don’t have to spend energy presenting or defending their own. Others will feel heard, because the decision-maker is actually listening. Everyone wins.

Choose words carefully

Language is important. The words we use shape our perspective and the perspectives of everyone we work with.

Make we a habit. They didn’t make a mistake; we made a mistake. The client doesn’t have a big opportunity; we have a big opportunity.

When you’re certain about something, say so, but also make it clear when you’re not. Expressing uncertainty doesn’t erode trust, but expressing certainty and being wrong does.

Set healthy boundaries

Communication is good, but be deliberate about it. The cost of real-time, always-on communication tools shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when used with clients. When possible, stick to email and scheduled meetings.

Avoid working outside of normal working hours, too. It’s more sustainable, and often more productive, to use a strict work schedule to help you and your team stay focused and driven. Don’t let the possibility of after-hours work excuse lacklustre performance during the day.

Make meetings count

Meetings are often unfairly maligned. It’s true that a poorly-organized meeting can be disruptive and wasteful, but a good meeting can be invaluable.

Every meeting needs a goal. Agendas are good, but goals are better. With a clear goal, it’s easy to intuit when the meeting is the least bit off-track, so you can correct course as you go. It’s also worth making clear if a meeting is meant to be divergent (new ideas welcome) or convergent (time to reach a consensus).

Make a habit of designating someone to take notes, and email the notes to everyone after the meeting. This will help you move more quickly, because no one will be worried about missing something. It also gives you a good excuse to exclude optional attendees; they can just read the notes. Small meetings without bystanders are more efficient.

Create your own rules

Some of the best lessons will come from your own experience.

A rule we adhere to on my team, for example, is to never estimate someone else’s work. This gives each person a sense of responsibility to the schedule and helps prevent unreasonable expectations.

Try to avoid treating any rule as dogma, however. ‘It depends’ is the only rule that is always dependable, so be willing to make an exception for a really good reason.

Stay humble

Leadership is a skill that requires study and practice, just like any other, and learning from one another is a great way to continue to improve. As peers, we share common threads, so the lessons we learn do as well.

I’m convinced that the most meaningful work is teamwork. Let’s learn together and work together to deliver on the web’s promise. Leaders wanted.

The original version of this article was commissioned for New Adventures magazine, January 2019.

Fri, 06 Sep 2019 11:55:33 -0600
Domain Registrars A few years ago, I wrote about domain registrars. Realizing how often people still reference that post, and how old it is, I decided to ask what people are using these days.

There was a lot less variety in the responses than last time I asked. In fact, four registrars accounted for almost all replies I received, even via in-person and private conversations.

Here they are.


My personal choice remains Gandi. Their new, JavaScript-heavy website belies the robustness of their platform, but if we judged companies by their websites, most would come up short. (This is why I want to rebuild every website I visit.)

The projects they support can give you a good idea of their principles, which is something that matters to me.

Gandi is committed to being the ethical choice for creating a web presence.

Notable features include:

  • Free SSL certificate
  • Whois privacy
  • DNS management

Gandi is recommended by Derick Rethans, Simon Jones, Seppe Stas, and Graham Christensen.


Like Gandi, Hover is trying to make the web better.

From podcasts to festivals, we’re proud to be patrons of inspiring projects that help fuel the internet.

Most people who recommend Hover cite their excellent customer service as a reason. They also have a helpful article on how to register a domain name.

Notable features include:

  • Whois privacy
  • DNS management

Hover is recommended by Kyle Meyer, Paul Reinheimer, and Tim Cheadle.


iwantmyname has an awkward name but a loyal customer base, and they have a wonderful sense of humor. The one-click setup of popular services like Google and AWS is a convenient way to get started quickly.

Notable features include:

  • Whois privacy
  • DNS management
  • Developer API

iwantmyname is recommended by Aaron Gilmore, Dan Duncan, and Chanpory Rith.


Namecheap continues to be a popular choice, and their mission and values are admirable. They even advertise their support for the EFF and Fight for the Future in the footer of every page.

Their domain search is one of the best I’ve seen, with a beast mode that unlocks the full gamut of search options.

Notable features include:

  • Whois privacy
  • DNS management

Namecheap is recommended by Ben Bodien and Jeff Lupinski.


I hope these recommendations can help you choose the domain registrar that’s best for you, especially if you don’t already own your own domain name(s). As I wrote in a recent article about personal websites on 99U:

Owning your own domain name is important, and if this article can convince you of only one thing, let it be this.

If you have any additions or corrections, please let me know.

Mon, 19 Aug 2019 15:07:31 -0600
2018 Highlights 2018 was a good year.

My web design and technology studio Faculty did some good work this past year, and we’re on our way to more with a promising new client. I’m optimistic that we can start to have a bigger impact on the web.

My coworking studio Roost is thriving, with a wonderful community of creative people that inspire me daily.

Below are some additional highlights.


Sean and I have been working together for many years, and in January, he officially joined Faculty:

Faculty is not just new to me, but something altogether new. It’s also something that feels older than it is. The familiar, experienced kind of old. The good kind. The kind I like.

Nick also joined Faculty at the start of the year. Nick is an incredible software engineer, adept at everything from infrastructure to frontend development. I’m excited to be working with him again.


Tegan and I participated in Family Code Night at her school, which was a fun introduction to some basic programming concepts. She was a natural. It was also my first exposure to Scratch, a programming language from MIT that was created especially for kids.


Sara Distin joined Faculty. Sara is an excellent writer — the best I’ve ever worked with — and she also brings a plethora of tangential skills, from content strategy to marketing. I’m thrilled to have her on the team.

At the end of the month, we took another family trip to Breckenridge. We’re pretty fond of the place, both for its proximity to Boulder (long road trips are still rough) and its relaxed vibe. Christina took Tegan and Killian skiing while we were there.


We launched a new website for Tia. The work itself wasn’t especially notable, but we were struck by Tia’s mission and thrilled to help them on their journey.

At the end of the month, I took a short trip to Tennessee to attend my little sister’s wedding.


Sanette, Amanda, and Jesse started a skeeball league. It was a lot of fun, and it’s great to watch the Roost community continue to grow.

I had jury duty. I liked it a lot more than I expected to, partly because the judge was so great. He really instilled a sense of pride in all of us, and a deep respect for the whole process.

I participated in a debate at Boulder Startup Week on remote work. It reminded me of Keenan’s wonderful Designer’s Debate Club.

I went to my first concert at Red Rocks to see Haim (with Maggie Rogers and Lizzo) and was blown away by the venue. The crowd was great, too. I’ll never forget everyone singing along to Whitney Houston while we waited for the show to start. Magic.


We took a family trip to Ireland for two weeks, visiting places like Dingle, Galway, Inishmore, Donegal, and Carrick. While in Donegal, we were lucky enough to meet up with Christopher Murphy and his wife Cara.


We held our first Faculty retreat in Colorado. It was an opportunity to look back, learn from our successes and mistakes, and plan for the future. As a remote-friendly team, our retreats are critical to our success. The entire week was full of planning, discussions, work, movies, and adventures. We drove into Denver for dinner a couple of times. At one such dinner, we saw Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford.

We published Good Work. This was a very important milestone for us at Faculty. I'm sure we will reference this constantly for years to come. Our hope is that not only can we continue to hold ourselves to these standards, but that we can also encourage others to do the same.


Christina and I spoke at an AIGA event in Denver about Roost. It was fun to be able to share our story and see the enthusiasm for what we’re doing on people’s faces.

I led two more Backcountry Club trips, to Maroon Bells and Indian Peaks. It’s always great to take time away, and it’s especially fulfilling to do it with friends, many of whom have no backpacking experience.

We sent our first Faculty newsletter. Each month, we’ll share our favorite links on design, technology, and business. You can sign up here.


I took Tegan on her first backpacking trip, an overnight to Crater Lakes in the James Peak Wilderness. I love this photo of us, because her excitement and anticipation are so visible.

We started working with Simply Framed.

For many reasons, we decided to sponsor New Adventures, a conference I love organized by people I love.


I decided to start tweeting only links as a way to curb my habit of using Twitter as a substitute for blogging. So far, it hasn’t resulted in more blogging, but good habits take time. It does help me focus on using Twitter for what it’s good at (spreading content) instead of what it’s not (hosting content). I’m optimistic.


At Roost, we started a monthly gathering called Breakfast Club. One Friday each month, we eat breakfast burritos, drink mimosas and lattes, and discuss the topic of the month. Our first topic was communication, and we talked about the downsides of always-on, realtime comunication mediums like Slack, and how to establish healthy boundaries with clients.


We spent the first few days of the holiday season in a cabin in the Rockies. I went for a run in the mountains while we were there, which was a nice place to reflect on the year past and the year ahead.

I hope you have a wonderful 2019.

Mon, 31 Dec 2018 22:42:06 -0700