RyhanHassan

Let's get to know you first. Tell us about yourself.

At the moment I'm visiting my parents for the holidays, as well as spending some quality time curled up with books and tea. During the rest of the year I spend much of my time tinkering on a side project or three.

In a few days I'll be headed back to Carnegie Mellon University where I study Computer Science and dabble with things I know dangerously little about. I'll be packing my bags again a few months later to join Dropbox as a product designer. Before Dropbox, I was fortunate enough to intern at some of my favorite technology companies, including Apple and Google.

Cool, so what's the story behind your website and its design?

It was 11pm sometime in July, and I was reluctantly triaging email. Among requests from Nigerian princes was a small note from a well known company asking me to send a portfolio.

Crap.

This was my first time applying for a pure-design role, and I really hadn't been expecting anyone to get in touch for at least another couple months. In years past I had sent around a PDF with a couple images and links, but frankly that wasn't going to cut it anymore.

In a bit of a mad rush I collected and organized assets from as many projects as I could, feverishly writing copy to turn folders of images into a story. A few nights later, I replied to the company with a link to a small (but launched!) site.

Over the next couple weeks I asked a couple trusted friends for critique and made numerous refinements. One of the best things I did was to carefully pare down my set of projects to just six. While it's tempting to squeeze in everything, I only wanted to show projects that either communicated my strengths or the sort of work I was interested in doing. I also liked how six was roughly the number of items most people could fit in short term memory.

What part of your website is your favourite, and why?

By no means is it original, but I really like the navigation scheme. While there's still plenty of room for improvement, I like how it encourages people to wander from project to project.

One little thing you might not notice - as you scroll down while reading a project, two arrows on each side animate a little to remind you that you can quickly move left and right between projects. I would rather have you move on to another project than to get bored and just close the tab.

Is there anything you wish you knew when you first started building your website?

I wish I had known more about the design interview process.

I really didn't know what to expect, and I could have done more to design around people talking about my work while interviewing me over the phone.

Technologies, languages, frameworks, or libraries?

Code-wise it's not a particularly interesting site - it's a pretty basic static site - so let me instead focus on the tools I used. I'm a sucker for beautiful tools (inside and out).

As with all of my projects that involve code, I keep track of revisions through a private repository on github. I used Hammer for Mac to handle concatenating CSS and JS assets, tracking down image assets, managing comments/to-dos for myself, and generating my little template. CodeKit ran in the background mostly as a linter, though I usually use it for much, much more. I also sprinkled on a tiny bit of coffeescript I wrote in the past called Guides.js to help me keep things aligned - for a taste, tap 'g' while looking at the site. Alike many others, I also use Typekit to provide fonts.

Any upcoming changes we should look out for?

I'm continually making small changes. Some of the midsize things I plan to do include fixing some type issues, optimizing for mobile, and tweaking some things for site performance.

Further down the road I'm planning on actually scrapping the current site and starting anew. My goals for having a site have completely changed, and I need to think much more about why it should exist and what it should convey. Plus, I'm pretty much always unhappy with things I ship.

Interview date: 29 Jan 2014Permalink