In every industry there are champions who define the landscape, break new ground or simply lead the way. Web design is no different, so check out these ten people every web designer should be familiar with.
Take any creative field and you’ll find well-known influencers who are responsible for leading the way, either with new interpretations, technical approaches or ideas. This is true whether you’re looking at David Bailey in the photography world, or Tracey Emin in fine art. It comes about because some practitioners define a movement or technique, either inventing it, championing it, or otherwise leading a charge towards it.
Of course, the world of web design is no different. We’ve got our own champions and leaders, although it’s surprisingly difficult to pick just ten names every web designer should know. Luckily, we live in an age of democratised sharing, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter making it easy to keep up to date with both current and future movers and shakers, so watch these ten and see who they recommend!
A quick note of caution before we upset those concerned, these names aren’t ranked or in any specific order! If we’ve missed someone you think should be in our list, let us know in the comments below.
01. Andy Clarke
Andy is a well-known speaker on the conference circuit, and is the founder of a Welsh-based design studio, Stuff and Nonsense, that boasts clients including the likes of The Home Office, STV and the International Organization for Standardization.
Andy is perhaps best known for his book, Hardboiled Web Design, which combined the idea of progressive enhancement with responsive web design.
02. Dan Cederholm
Dan is the author of five web design books covering everything from standards-based code approaches to Sass. As well as writing, Dan is a practicing web designer, and a popular speaker.
Alongside Rich Thornett, Dan is a co-founder of the popular dribbble.com show-and-tell website that allows designers to upload micro-shots of their work in progress.
03. Dave Shea
Dave Shea is most famous for his CSS Zen Garden project, which helped spearhead the move from table-based web design layout to CSS-based layouts. The website became very popular, both helping to push the boundaries of what designs could be achieved with CSS alone, and also encouraging web designers the world over to adopt the approach.
04. Jeffrey Zeldman
Jeffrey is perhaps the best known of all the people featured in our list. He’s the author of a must-have book, Designing with Web Standards, publisher of books via A Book Apart, Speaker and is the driving force behind the immensely popular industry-leading online journal, A List Apart. Jeffrey is also the founder of Happy Cog studios, a US-based consultancy with clients including MTV, Ben & Jerry’s and Stanford University.
05. Matt Mickiewicz
Matt is the entrepreneur behind the hugely popular SitePoint.com website, an online community web design and development site offering everything from books to online courses, tutorials and discussion forums.
As well as SitePoint, Matt is responsible for 99designs, a controversial platform designed to crowdsource graphic design.
06. Vitaly Friedman
Vitaly is well-known in the web design world for his web design blog, Smashing Magazine. The original blog has grown over the past few years to incorporate a huge set of web design resources, and has branched out into both publishing (with Smashing Books), and workshops/conferences which attract some of the web’s best experts.
07. Rachel Andrew
Rachel is a web developer, speaker and prolific writer. Her books include titles for SitePoint, Apress and Five Simple Steps, covering the likes of PHP web development, CSS3 Layout Modules and Adobe’s Dreamweaver web design tool.
Aside from her speaking and writing, Rachel is the Managing Director of edgeofmyseat.com, a web development consultancy known for its Perch CMS app.
08. Jakob Nielsen
Jakob Nielsen is a sometimes controversial figure in the web design community. He’s best known for his contributions to the usability debate, and is the author of numerous books including Designing Web Usability. Jakob was heavily criticised in the early years of the new millennium for his rejection of graphics and design elements in favour of simple text layouts. Regardless of your position on the debate, Jakob’s contribution to the web design world is indisputable and his legacy continues to spur debate.
09. Veerle Pieters
Veerle is a hugely talented graphic designer from Belgium, best known for both her work through Duoh!, the agency she co-founded with Geert Leyseele, and her blog at veerle.duoh.com where she shares insights and tutorials. She’s also an author and speaker, and has worked on some high profile projects including the GUI for ExpressionEngine.
10. Cameron Moll
Cameron is a well-known designer who speaks regularly at web design conferences across the world. As well as the Authentic Jobs website, which Cameron is responsible for, he’s collaborated on books with the likes of Andy Budd and Simon Collison - both well known in the web design industry in their own rights.
As well as his speaking and books, Cameron is well known for a series of typographical posters rendered with letterpress, which are well worth a look!
Words: Sam Hampton-Smith
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Let us know about anyone we've missed out in the comments below...