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MAY 2007 0

Exclusive interview with Chris Coyier, owner of CSS Tricks

css-tricks.com screenshot

Webia: Hello Chris. Tell us something about yourself.
Chris: I am a web designer who like to dabble a bit in development too, although I have a lot to learn in both departments.

Webia: What do you do for a living?
Chris: At the moment I work for a small design company out of Madison, WI. We are only three guys and I am the only one with any web experience so my official title is "Web Guy". We have quite a few clients who we run websites for, so this role keeps me on my toes having to bounce around doing all kinds of different things to keep the web sites running, functioning well, and looking good!

Webia: What is your specialty ?
Chris: CSS is definitely my specialty. I have been trying to branch out into more advanced technologies lately and have been having a lot of fun with that, but I always find myself enjoying coming back to CSS. Controlling the look of a web page is just so rewarding.

Webia: You specialize in CSS. Do you also do graphic design? If yes, what software do you use. What styles do you like most?
Chris: I started out in Graphic Design and I think that's technically what my degree is focused on. I also worked in Prepress in the printing industry for a lot of years so I am very at home in the print world. Nowadays I do a whole lot more web work than print work though. I use the same stuff I use for web work for print work, basically the Adobe Creative Suite 3: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I like a lot of different styles, but I tend to like simple and clean more than busy. I also like designs with interesting typography, but yet again, that is simple and clean.

Webia: You are the man behind CSS Tricks. What exactly is CSS Tricks about. Is it just CSS or more?
Chris: It's only about a year old now and in some ways it hasn't quite found itself yet. It has always been about more than CSS, but always within the realm of web design. Anything I write I tend to try to at least connect to CSS in some way, but not every time. I am not going to write a restaurant review or talk about my cat though, this is a resource blog for web designers.

Webia: CSS Tricks contains not only articles, but screen casts, downloads and > more. What is your main focus now? What do you plan for the future?
Chris: I want to keep the blog as the main focus because that is the material that drives the popularity of the site and what turns out being the best reference material for people. The downloads section is really just an extension of that. A permanent home for some of the better examples from the blog. Some people just don't care right away how something was done, they just want a download they can play with themselves. I understand that, I am that way a lot of times.

The screen casts are a newer thing that I have really enjoyed doing and plan to keep doing on a weekly basis. I have gotten more positive feedback from that than almost anything else I've ever done. Everyone learns better visually and screen casts provide that a lot better than writing does. There are also forums now on CSS-Tricks, which I am happy to say have built up a nice little helpful community. I could not be more grateful for that.

Webia: What was the most challenging project you were (or still are) on. Describe how start ups can overcome difficulties.
Chris: The challenging part of projects for me isn't usually anything technical, but communicational (that really should be a word). I consider myself a pretty good communicator, but there are some clients who are just extremely difficult to deal with on some level or another. Either you can't get information out of them that you need, or they like to get micro-manage-y with your design process, or expectations get mixed up somewhere along the line.

Technical problems have clear solutions. Interpersonal problems never do. These same type of problems can pop up not just in client work but on working on a team in a startup environment too. I am blessed with CSS-Tricks, in that it's pretty much a one-man-show, that I can basically do as I please as long as I keep the readers and advertisers happy. I've had pretty good luck with that so far.

Webia: Do you think that one should use css tricks to make a complex website multi browser, or should the design be simplified so that it doesn't require IE hacks and alike at all.
Chris: When you say "hacks" I think of thinks like the "underscore hack" and stuff like that meant to "trick" certain versions of certain browsers into doing what you want them to do. I am generally against that type of thing.

For one thing, conditional stylesheets achieve the same results only are valid code and easier to understand. For another, "hacks" that work today could cause serious problems tomorrow if a new version of a popular browser came out that didn't like what it was seeing. Keep you code standards compliant and you shouldn't have any problems.

Webia: Any advice for our audience?
Chris: Sure. Never stop learning, but don't overwhelm yourself.

Chris is the owner of CSS Tricks, one of the best CSS resource sites out there.

Published on Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 at 3:40 pm in 2007.

About Bogdan Pop

Bogdan Pop is a young Romanian entrepreneur who runs WebRaptor. He is a web developer with awesome design skills, who enjoys writing about everyday's work and usability. He relaxes by taking photos every once in a while and by mixing french electronic music. Connect with him via Twitter.

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