Skip to main content

.net Awards 2013: top 10 young developers

This year's .net Awards are all about welcoming the newer faces in the industry, and this category is particularly in line with that mission. For this award, we're looking for a web developer under the age of 25 who has made serious industry waves over the last 12 months.

Starting in January, we asked you to tell us who you think is deserving of this award, and we whittled down a long list of suggestions to the final 10 you see below. We're now collecting public votes, and the three nominees with the most votes will be submitted to our panel of experts who will pick a final winner.

Click here to cast your votes.

Michael Wright

Job: Web development student. Freelance web developer
Based in: Stafford, England
Got into development aged: Around 15
Education: I'm completely self-taught in everything I know. I'm solely doing a degree to 'get the paper' in case things don't work out.
First job: Last year I worked for a multi-national educational company called EducationCity working on both product and internal systems
Areas of expertise: I tend to specialise in backend work with PHP and MySQL being my strongest points. However, I'm proficient in JavaScript and dabble in other software languages like Java, C and C#

.net: How did you get into web development?
MW: I started out when I was in secondary school, when Freewebs was around, playing with HTML and CSS. I swiftly got bored of static sites, and so started playing with some PHP and JavaScript. It all spiraled from there.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
MW: As bad as this sounds, I haven't yet been to a conference, nor do I follow any massive people on Twitter. However, with my time on Forrst in the early days I've always been happy to have Kyle Bragger at the end of an email if I ever had a question that I needed a hand with.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
MW: Unfortunately, university is sapping up a lot my time recently. But I've been pushing new articles to Codular, planning expansions for Striving and increasing the frequency of Summit Awesome - both meet ups and hackathons. Aside from that, I've got some new open source projects planned, as well as a rewrite of 'Hello I Made', a hackathon project that is getting a facelift. Finally, there's some client work planned to help stay alive.

(opens in new tab)

Hans Christian Reinl

Job: Frontend web developer
Based in: Freiburg, Germany
Got into development aged:15
Education: I mostly learned to code by educating myself. I am very thankful for what I learned from contributions to open source software
First job: I designed and coded a website for a rock festival in the city where I lived at that time
Areas of expertise: Mainly I focus on writing scalable front-end code, especially CSS. Within the last two years I tried to become better with writing JavaScript and focus on MVC-based web applications. I share my learnings in my blog

.net: How did you get into web development?
HR: Throughout my youth, I discovered that it is pretty easy to create things on your computer and wrap your head around writing code. Spending some afternoons with Frontpage got me keen to learn what is behind this web thing.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
HR: The first person that I came upon while learning web development was Chris Coyier from CSS-Tricks. I learned a lot from his blog posts. Other inspiring people are definitely the developers behind HTML5 Boilerplate, namely Paul Irish, Divya Manian, Mathias Bynens and Nicolas Gallagher. Lately I really admire what Sindre Sorhus does.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
HR: Mainly client projects. In open source I tried to dig deeper into what it means to build consistent frontend applications which resulted in the creation of init and contributions to projects such as HTML5 Boilerplate and HTML5 Please.

(opens in new tab)

Ben Howdle

Job: JavaScript developer
Based in: London
Got into development aged: 19
Education: A-Levels
First job: Paper round
Areas of expertise: JavaScript, CSS and client side application architecture

.net: How did you get into web development?
BH: As an IT technician I was asked on the off chance to build an internal tool for stock taking products, and it went from there! I started learning development in the evenings until I managed to get my first paid client. Read more here.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
BH: No one in particular, just a few people in the industry. I feel like the whole vibe and helpfulness of the community keeps me motivated. In particular, I'd like to mention (amongst many others) Daryl Ginn (@daryl) and Michael Wright (@michaelw90) as they've been very helpful over the years.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
BH: Building the next generation of KashFlow's (@KashFlow) software (I work for them!) using BackboneJS. This year, I want to step up in creating more resources, tutorials and tools for learning in the web industry, watch this space! Read more here.

(opens in new tab)

Anna Debenham

Job: Freelance frontend developer
Based in: Brighton, UK
Got into development aged: 15
Education: Some GCSEs, A-Levels and brownie badges
First job: Juicette at a smoothie bar
Areas of expertise: HTML and CSS

.net: How did you get into web development?
AD: I began learning HTML from making webpages on Neopets, and CSS from tweaking MySpace profiles. I started listening to Boagworld podcasts when I was 16, and attended my first meetup in London a year later for the 100th episode in 2007. Shortly after, I started freelancing.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
AD: Paul Boag, Marcus Lillington, Ryan Taylor and Paul Stanton welcomed me into the industry when I was starting out, and sent me on Drew and Rachel's CSS workshop. Also the folk at Clearleft who gave me an internship in 2009, particularly Natalie Downe who I pair-programmed with the whole time I was there. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor. At the moment, I'm doing a lot of work building prototypes with Leisa Reichelt, and she sets me lots of tasks that have been helping push my skills.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
AD: Over the past year, I've been working with a startup called Speakr, a web app that helps kids articulate how they feel at school through technology, and I've been working with a team on the University of Surrey website. I've also got a couple of ongoing side projects. I document the browsers on game consoles, and I co-host Unfinished Business, a podcast about the business side of the web.

(opens in new tab)

Harry Roberts

Job: Senior UI developer, BSkyB
Based in: Leeds, UK
Got into development aged: 16
Education: I once got 98 per cent in a spelling test
First job: Worked at a small design and print shop in my hometown (no job title)
Areas of expertise: CSS architecture, frontend performance

.net: How did you get into web development?
HR: I used to think I’d make a super-awesome graphic designer, so I started to build myself a portfolio site. I realised I was far better at development (or rather, less terrible), and I much preferred it.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
HR: Nicole Sullivan set the ball rolling for me, she changed the way I look at building websites. People like her, Jonathan Snook and Nicolas Gallagher are pretty awesome people who continue to inspire.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
HR: In my work at Sky, I’ve been working on a pretty huge mobile build. We’ve been on it for months now, and it’s slowly trickling out to users. Out of work I’ve been working pretty solidly on my open source OOCSS framework inuit.css, and also on csswizardry-grids, a Sass-based responsive grid system (we needed another one ;)).

(opens in new tab)

Jack Franklin

Job: Software engineer, Kainos
Based in: London, UK
Got into development aged: 14
Education: Currently three quarters of my way through a Computer Science degree from the University of Bath.
First job: My first actual job was selling ice creams on the beach back home in Cornwall, but my first relevant job was freelancing; I started doing some basic PSD to HTML/CSS jobs that I found online.
Areas of expertise: I spend a lot of time working with Ruby and JavaScript, but more specifically jQuery, Backbone.js and lots of Node.js bits and bobs.

.net: How did you get into web development?
JF: The football club I played for when I was 14 needed a website - and my dad volunteered! I then learned HTML and CSS with him and from then got into PHP before really getting stuck into JavaScript.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
JF: I've not had any mentors who know they've been my mentors but things written or recorded by the likes of Jeffrey Way, Addy Osmani, Rob Hawkes and Derick Bailey, to name just a few. I've spent a lot of my time consuming things written by those and others, all of which has stood me in good stead.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
JF: The thing I'm most proud of is the release of my first book, "Beginning jQuery (opens in new tab)", which was the result of eight to nine months of late nights of writing, rewrites and editing. I've also been trying to keep my blog JavaScript Playground up to date and fresh with new content, which is a never-ending battle (but one I think I'm slowly winning) - and my new side project for 2013 is Upfront Podcast, a weekly 30 minute podcast with myself, co-host Ben Howdle (@benhowdle) and guests. So far we've discussed everything from accessibility to hosting, with plenty more thrown in. I've also been running workshops with Event Handler and have so far run one workshop on command line tools, with more to follow in the coming months.

(opens in new tab)

Anthony Colangelo

Job: Developer at Happy Cog
Based in: Philadelphia, PA
Got into development aged: 18
Education: Bachelor's Degree in Web Design & Development, Full Sail University
First job: Developer at Leadnomics in Philadelphia, PA
Areas of expertise: I work on both the front and backend of projects. HTML, CSS, JS (and jQuery), PHP, MySQL, NoSQL. All with a love for responsive design (and responsive behaviour!)

.net: How did you get into web development?
AC: I dabbled in graphic design during my high school years and was headed towards majoring in it at Drexel University. When the iPhone came out and I began playing with it, I realised that what I really wanted to do was build the stuff I was using.

By a stroke of luck I found Full Sail University's web design and development degree. I wanted to learn both design and development, and the program was focused on both, not one or the other like many programs out there.

During my time at Full Sail, I drifted more towards the development side, especially towards the end of the program. I've kept my eye for design with me, but have been primarily focused on development since then.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
AC: I had some pretty amazing teachers and friends at Full Sail. Jason Madsen, Rick Osborne and the group of people I went through the program with really inspired me to push myself pretty hard during school. Because of that, I came away with some awesome portfolio pieces and skills that helped me get started on the right foot.

Today, I'm continuously inspired by my Happy Cog family. They're some of the best people I've ever met, and their skills amaze me everyday. Work doesn't seem like work because of the people I'm surrounded with on a daily basis, and I'm incredibly thankful for that.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
AC: With clients like MTV, Delaware Valley College, and Black Hills Corporation, I've been pretty busy with some exciting projects at Happy Cog.

My biggest personal project of the past year was definitely jPanelMenu. It's a jQuery plug-in for creating off-canvas type navigation. It's had some awesome attention and a good amount of action on GitHub. In addition to the work I've continued putting into that, there's been some great open source contributions from the community, so it's continuing to get better.

(opens in new tab)

Kit Cambridge

Job: Programmer at Voxer
Based in: San Francisco, CA
Got into development aged: 15
Education: Self-taught
First job: Interned at Voxer over the summer. Joined full-time in September
Areas of expertise: JavaScript; specifically cross-browser development, the ECMAScript spec, and DOM core

.net: How did you get into web development?
KC: I initially planned to learn Objective-C, but quickly decided upon a gentler introduction to programming in the form of a Twitter dashboard widget. This was in 2008, when the JavaScript community was beginning its growth streak. After spending several months learning the language and the DOM APIs, I realised my passion for cross-browser consistency, and gravitated away from widgets and toward library development. In the summer of 2009, I joined the FuseJS core team, which introduced me to the world of standards and spec precedents. While working on a new build system for FuseJS, I discovered headless JavaScript engines and CommonJS, which sparked my interest in HTTP and server-side development.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
KC: I've had far too many to list them all, but I'd like to call out a few in particular. John-David Dalton (@jdalton) has been my mentor from the very beginning, and I'm both deeply thankful for his patience, and thrilled to have worked on several projects with him. Daniel Shaw (@dshaw) has mentored me at Voxer. Juriy Zaytsev (@kangax) and Angus Croll (@angustweets) inspired me to glean insights from the ECMAScript specification. Mathias Bynens (@mathias) and Rick Waldron (@rwaldron) taught me to find elegance in even the smallest implementation details. Paul Irish (@paul_irish) and Divya Manian (@divya) introduced me to the wonderfully supportive community, and encouraged me to pursue development with a vigor.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
KC: Most of my recent work has been company-related. At Voxer, I helped build a user management system for our enterprise product. During this time, I learned about building RESTful APIs, and common patterns for constructing web apps. Outside of work, I've continued my involvement with the BestieJS cooperative, contributing to Lo-Dash (I wrote the first iteration of our custom builder) and JSON 3. I've also begun reading through various modules from the CSS 3 spec — though I've never thought of myself as a designer, I have no excuse for my embarrassingly rudimentary knowledge of CSS.

(opens in new tab)

Sindre Sorhus

Job: Consultant
Based in: Norway
Got into development aged: 19
Education: Self-taught
First job: Worked as a Flash-monkey
Areas of expertise: JavaScript and open source

.net: How did you get into web development?
SS: I started out hiring freelancers for some pet projects, but wasn't happy with the quality (I'm quite the perfectionist). So I sat down and learned how to do it myself. No better feeling than being able to create something from an idea to a finished product by yourself.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational?
SS: Isaac Schlueter. The way he runs Node.js and interacts with the community is admirable.

.net: Have you had any mentors?
SS: My first real exposure to open source was a pull request to the project TodoMVC run by Addy Osmani, who later mentored me into the open source world. I'm now quite addicted to it.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
SS: I've been heavily involved in Open Source projects like Yeoman, TodoMVC, Grunt, Bower, EditorConfig and more, in addition to personal projects like Pure, JsRun, Focus.

(opens in new tab)

Josh Emerson

Job: Frontend Developer at Clearleft
Based in: Brighton, UK
Got into development aged: 20
Education: Studied architecture at university
First job: Freelancer web designer
First employer: Clearleft
Areas of expertise: Responsive design

.net: How did you get into web development?
JE: As a kid I was amazed at how easy it was to make a website. Of course there's a lot of complexity to making websites, but a basic 'Hello World' site is nothing more than those words in a text file with an extension of "html". This low barrier to entry inspired me to start hacking around with personal sites and later client work. I enjoy making sites just as much today as I did when I was a 10 years old.

.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
JE: Where do I start? I have had the good fortune of working alongside some of the brightest minds in our industry. Clearleft founders Rich Rutter, Andy Budd and Jeremy Keith have made a huge impression on me. Every day, I look to them for inspiration and guidance. I find their approach and mindset hugely empowering.

Whenever I'm faced with a tough problem, I ask myself, what would Jeremy do? I imagine that I have a little "Jeremy Keith" perched on my shoulder and he helps me make the right decisions.

.net: What have you been working on this year?
JE: I've worked on the new Clearleft site, which uses icon fonts to make sure the website looks great on high DPI devices. Making your own site is always a challenge, but I found this project to be hugely rewarding.

I also developed the recently launched Wellcome Library website, a responsive site for a science charity. I developed a technique called Responsive Enhance for dealing with responsive images on this site.

(opens in new tab)

Click here to cast your votes!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.