In Episode 42 of the UMS podcast I talk with Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) of CSS-Tricks.com about his new job at Wufoo and what it is that makes him create those great screen casts and put all the effort into CSS-Tricks.com. He describes himself as “Lead Hucklebucker. Master Cascader. Head Tag Closer.” he really means it, this guy loves this stuff and it really shows anytime you talk with him. He’s also one of the nicest most approachable guys our industry.
Transcript of the podcast:
Gene: All right. So, I’m sitting with Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks.com and a number of other sites. Any other ones that you want to make sure I get in?
Chris: There are a number of other ones.
Gene: You’ve got, like, 12 websites or something.
Chris: [laughs] Well, I probably do if you look through my whole… Don’t open coda and look around. It’s kind of nuts. No, it’s mostly CSS-Tricks.com. So, anybody who knows me, it’s usually through that which is cool.
Gene: I wanted to bring that up. So, how did that come about? How did they get you involved?
Chris: So, I worked at this little design company in Madison, Wisconsin called Chapman Design for three years, and so, we had a lot of web clients and I was the only web guy. It’s this three person company. It was really fun to work there. It was my first job in the web industry and stuff, and we brought on more and more web clients. And I was the only web guy there.
It was like, I was jumping around a lot, responding to client requests. And so, anything that I could do to stay sane or whatever, to make my job easier for myself I would do. This idea, I’ve said this a million times, is just instant productivity and trying to find ways to make your job easier or whatever, that idea has permeated through everything I do.
One of those things was use WordPress because if I have one CMS that I can use on 30 sites, then jumping back and forth between them is easier. And certainly building forms, no joke, is a big deal, especially forms that do lots of cool stuff.
Gene: Do you take money? Wufoo’s integration with PayPal, etc.. now…
Chris: Write your own money collection system. Good luck with that. So, Wufoo forms do that. I’m not going to sit here and list the features of Wufoo, but it’s awesome. And so, I would tell that to people when they would email to me because I would do it because I have a website. And you guys, I’m sure you get questions all the time, too.
It’s like, I will try to help you if I can, but if it’s form related, I’m like, just use Wufoo. So, I think they were probably aware that I was sending some referrals their way and stuff. I would mention them at other various times. I did a screen podcast. They were just kind of aware of me, I’m sure. That’s cool.
I think I ran into them down at another web conference, the Front End Design Conference, so I talked to them. I had a tiny little bit of face time with them.
Gene: You spoke at that conference last year, right?
Chris: I did. That was last year. That was the first conference I ever spoke at ever which was cool. It’s been uphill since then.
Gene: Right. That’s cool that worked out. We use Wufoo with some of our clients too. We have a web design company, like everyone else. But we use Wufoo for a lot of stuff.
Gene: Like I said, they are going to put us out of business one day. Maybe not…
Chris: I think that’s a value add. If a customer sends you a request that says, “Hey, we’re having a get together. We want people to RSVP for it.” You’re like, “Give me three minutes” and you can rock that out. It’s impressive to them, and then when you send them the bill, you can charge for that.
Chris: This is expert material.
Gene: One of the things that I’ve been wanting to ask you particularly about CSS Tricks. You’re really focused on providing education. What makes you want to do that? Why do you care about that?
Chris: I think about it sometimes. Everybody does, well, in a retrospect of their life. I don’t know. Sometimes I think this is like a new one to me. I look at so many people. There’s so many speakers here. We’re sitting here conversing on stuff, like people are so smart. It’s just amazing. You smarties, and I just usually don’t feel that smart. It takes me a long time to grasp concepts.
There’s a guy in there right now talking about YQL which is super cool and super complicated. A lot of times I’ll just sit there, like, really, start from what? And it’s super cool. Anyway, if I’d take the time and sit and learn this concept, if I’d really dig into YQL and learn it, it’ll take me a long time but I will get it. And then, I’ll feel like I can relate to all those people with their jaw dropped looking at that stuff. I can help you now because I took the time to do it.
So, if I’ve done that and then write it up, sometimes that’s the kind of stuff that ends up on CSS Tricks. It’s when I have taken the time to learn it and I can relate to that not knowing it, I just spit it out.
Gene: Well, I have to say I teach a Web Design 101 and cover a lot of basic educational stuff. I’ve used you several times for web casts, so I thank you for that.
Chris: Sure. I get that from a lot of people. Sometimes, it’s like a super good compliment. And if it’s a recent one, it’s, “Are you still using that one?”
Gene: Well, you know.
Chris: [laughs] No. I try and keep things updated and whatever. It’s fine. It’s good. Keep doing it.
Gene: Well, thank you for talking to us.
Chris: You’re welcome. Thanks.