(Also, it feels weird to say I’m a “podcaster,” but here we are.)
Normally, each episode focuses on an organization that’s recently launched a responsive website. We’ll spend a little time talking about the more technical bits, like layout, design tools, or performance, but the broader focus is on how the people involved made the site happen. As I’ve said before, our show focuses on how responsive design has changed the way these teams work. And overall, I think that format’s worked well—or at least, we’re creeping up on 150 episodes, and we’re still having fun. I’ve loved speaking to folks ranging from BBC News to the Financial Times, from Virgin America to Marriott, from the United States’ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development.
But for the last few months, we’ve been taking a short break from our organization-focused episodes, and talking to designers, developers, and content strategists that Karen and I think are doing interesting work. And we’ve been calling these episodes “Spotlights.”
We began the series with my friend Frank Chimero, which was a wonderful, wide-ranging chat: we talked about everything from tools, to how responsive design changes the way designers have to communicate with their clients. Toward the end of the interview, Frank had this piece of advice for young webfolk:
I would say just learn a little bit about the work that everybody else is doing.
That line stuck with me. Frank didn’t know it, but he set up the rest of the Spotlight series perfectly: I’ve been able to learn a little bit about some of the people I admire most in this industry, and why they do it.
Because each of these episodes has been a rare opportunity to hear some, well, inspiring folks gush about what they’re most passionate about. Robyn Kanner told us about designing MyTransHealth, and how her team helped underserved, at-risk populations access critical health services. I listened to the unstoppable Mina Markham talk about her work on a pattern library for a presidential campaign, but also how she thinks designers and developers can more effectively collaborate. It’s not every day I get to listen to the likes of Nicole Dominguez and Sara Soueidan not just talk about the latest front-end technology, but also how valuable mentorship was in shaping their careers. And Senongo Akpem, a designer I’ve admired for years, talked about the need for a broader cultural awareness in web design, and how his design and illustration work reflects that.
Now, these are just a few highlights among the many Spotlight episodes we’ve published to date. What’s more, we’ve a few more interviews left—and they’re real, real good ones.
But in writing all this up, I realized the name of the series is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not like we’re capable of shining spotlights on these fine people: their work’s already done that. If anything, the episodes have pointed a bright light on something I’m still puzzling through in my own practice, as I trying to figure out how to translate ideas into action—something many of our Spotlight guests have figured out how to do, and in pretty inspiring ways. So! I’d like to thank our guests for doing damned good work, and sharing a bit of it with our listeners, and with me. I’ve enjoyed every one of these Spotlight episodes—maybe you will, too.