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A Dozen Questions for Mr Stokes

Front End Developer and Other Crap

Noah Stokes is a talented designer and developer, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Stokes attained internet notoriety when he launched www.noahstokes.com, a carefully crafted portfolio web site which perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the interwebz. Quickly picked up by the Twitterati the site rapidly went viral, cementing Stokes position as a designer worth watching.

Stokes isn’t a one trick pony, however, his other works, Dialed Tone (currently in the pipeline), Jeremy Cowart’s Blog and The Sold Project, demonstrate an admirable level of attention to detail and the craft of design.

Stokes states: “Contrary to what my portfolio says, my rates are far from $15 per hour. If anyone can get me backstage tickets for the U2 tour, however, I’ll make an exception.”

We asked Mr Stokes a dozen questions.


Where did you learn your craft? Where did you pick up your mad skillz?

I learned web development from viewing others’ source, web developers’ blogs (people actually used to blog about what they were learning back when CSS was becoming more and more widespread) and of course, Google.

Then it was just a bunch of trial and error. I’ve been doing it for nearly five years and I’m still learning something new every day.

Who inspires you?

Harold Emsheimer, Derek Nelson, Joshua Blankenship, Chuck Anderson, Si Scott, Garrett Murray, Ryan Sims, Team Airbag, Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad of Tapbots.

What are your influences?

God; smart, efficient design and functionality; and good music played really loud. 

I also do Twitter backgrounds.

How important is language as a design element?

I’d say it’s clutch. I think that a design should emphasize the content, a good IA will create design that draws the eyes to that important language and engage the viewer and hopefully call them to action.

What were the inspirations and influences for www.noahstokes.com?

Design portfolios are a dime a dozen. All of them can be brilliant, but you’ll end up forgetting about them. I thought: Why not do anti-design? I wrote the content as I was coding it, more as placeholder text, then I was reminded of the <marquee> tag and it was all downhill from there. It took me about 15 minutes to make it and about two hours, from the point I Twittered it, for it to reach critical mass.

<blink> vs <marquee>?

<marquee>.  <blink> doesn’t work in Safari.


Is Twitter important?

Twitter is such a massive hive of what’s current right now.  I think it’s extremely important as far as information gathering and tracking goes. I really think the possibilities with Twitter are only just beginning to be explored.

In the context of my portfolio, it seemed to be stuck in a Twitter loop for several days. Where someone with a large number of follwers would re-tweet it and its traffic would spike, then an hour later the same thing would happen all over again. It’s really fascinating to see it make its rounds.

Is there a danger of being typecast as the ‘Kaa-Chow’ guy?

I’ll leave that for Lightning McQueen. With a little bit of AJAX, and an insane amount of luck, you too can code like me.

What else is in the pipeline?

I’m working on a project called Dialed Tone for musicians, specifically guitarists and bass players who use an effect unit called the M13 Stompbox modeler.

I’ve just put Clicoon into private beta, not sure what I’ll end up doing with that though. I’ve also got this Budget App that I originally built for my wife to use for our home budget, but it’s since grown into something much more;  I’d like to make an iPhone app out of that at some point.

I’ve got a few other ideas up my sleeve, I just need more hours in the day to finish them all. One that leverages Twitter in a really innovative way. I’m excited about that one. Oh snap, I almost forgot, I’m working on a web app for anyone who prays. It’s called Fervent. Derek Nelson is doing the design, and it’s mind blowing. 

Gotham Ultra

What’s your favourite typeface?

At the moment Gotham Ultra.

What’s your favourite plain text editor?

I really, really want to be a TextMate guy, but BBEdit keeps calling me home. I’ve been using it since version six. I do all my coding by hand, and BBEdit fits like a glove.

What’s your favourite tea?

I’m not a tea drinker, I wish I was. What would you recommend?

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