Brad Frost

Brad Frost is a web designer, speaker, writer, and consultant located in beautiful Pittsburgh, PA. He’s passionate about creating Web experiences that look and function beautifully on the never-ending stream of connected devices, and is constantly tweeting, writing and speaking about it. He’s also created some tools and resources for web designers, including This Is Responsive, Pattern Lab, Mobile Web Best Practices, and WTF Mobile Web.

Published Thoughts

Wake up excited.
Have ideas.
Have opinions.
Give a shit.
Do shit.
Make shit.
Solve problems.
Make it happen.
Think about it.
But not too hard.
Don’t worry about doing it “right”.
There is no “right”.
You aren’t an expert.
There are no experts.
Do it anyways.
Get stuck.
Ask questions.
Ask for help.
Shout for help.
Find help.
Work with interesting people.
Be interesting.
Be interested.
Feel humiliated.
Get knocked on your ass.
Work harder.
Feel overwhelmed.
Work through it.
Keep trying.
Make progress.
Give feedback.
Get feedback.
Be humble.
Be honest.
Fix things.
Fix things.
Ask questions.
Answer questions.
Help others.
Help others.
Help others.
Be excited.
Get excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.
Wake up excited.

I just bought a house. The previous owner did a phenomenal job stripping the late 1800’s structure down to its original wood floors, ceilings, and brick. It’s beautiful.

Our pull-to-refresh culture has warped our perception of time and as a result has skewed what we value. We confuse freshness with quality. We’re pressured to constantly learn the newest techniques, tools, and languages. We mistrust any post whose timestamp is more than a few weeks old. New good. Old bad.

It’s absolutely exhausting to operate this way. As time goes on, I find it less and less appealing to attempt to drink from the never-ending firehose of Medium posts, Github repos, and hip new languages. I’m finding relatively unsexy, tried-and-true tools, techniques, and technologies more attractive.

I want my work and my skills to stand the test of time like my house’s brick foundation. I don’t want my work to become the shitty drop ceilings that get torn out once that trend has come and gone.

Don’t be afraid to hang your hat on things you feel will stand the test of time, rather than the current spray of acronyms recruiters cluelessly broadcast. Value quality over trendiness.

When I was a kid, I never said "I want to be a web designer when I grow up!" It wasn't an available option.

It’s been said that 65% of kids entering school now will end up in jobs that haven’t been invented yet. That can be an intimidating thought, as it requires considering and planning for an undefined future.

That’s why it’s so important to understand why you enjoy doing what you do, rather than focusing so much on what it is you do.

Why do you have the job you have? Why do you hang around your circle of friends? Why do you make time for your particular hobbies and passion projects?

Our careers will have many twists and turns. We’ll abandon certain skills and pick up new ones. If we never dig deeper to consider why we do what we do, we risk stagnation, obsolescence, and unhappiness.

I feel most fulfilled when I’m making and sharing things. Why? I think it’s because I enjoy putting things into the world that weren’t there before. I like solving problems. I like helping other people and seeing them happier as a result. I know the world around me will continue to change, and so long as I’m able to continue making and sharing things in some capacity, I’ll continue to be happy.

Maybe one day you’ll be proficient in a language that hasn’t been invented yet. Or you’ll be making a living designing for devices that have yet to be conceived. Or curing diseases that haven’t been discovered.

Understanding why we enjoy doing what we do better prepares us for whatever the future has in store.

Work hard.
Don’t be an asshole.
Share what you know.

The Values of the Web

I don’t work in the tech industry. I work on the Web.  

Every day I read about the sorry state of the tech industry. Stories about bubbles, sexism, IPOs, prejudice, elitism, drama, and get-rich-quick schemes fill my feeds. 

This is not the world I live in, even if technically (see what I did there?) the Web is part of the “tech” industry. 

Every day I communicate and collaborate with my peers on the Web. We share links we find interesting. We have conversations both trivial and important. We publish thoughts we think need written. We create tools we think might be helpful to the community.

Every day people from all over the world give me advice, provide feedback, share resources, and even fix my code. It’s absolutely incredible.

Now I don’t care where they come from, what they look like, what their political affiliations are, what their religious affiliations are, or anything else. They made my life a bit easier, and for that, I’m extremely thankful. That’s all that matters.

I believe in the Web and what principles it stands for: openness, transparency, inclusiveness, collaboration. I’m fortune enough to travel all over the world, and everywhere I go I talk to people who believe in these same principles.

We work in a medium that requires intense collaboration. Big, messy collaboration. We certainly don’t agree on everything, but there’s a general understanding that we’re working toward a common goal of making the Web a better place for ourselves and for others.

Now I’m not going to pretend that everyone in the Web community all joins hands and sings kumbaya together. I’ve heard far too many awful tales from too many people to believe that. But I do think that those that help create the Web understand and appreciate openness, collaboration, and inclusiveness simply because they rely on these things in order to do their jobs.

Every day I see people pouring countless amounts of hours into projects they turn around and give away for free, spending nights and weekends writing blog posts and tutorials, sharing resources and thoughts openly. They do this not for fame or fortune, but because they want to contribute to something bigger than themselves and make the Web a little bit better.

I am an optimist? You’re goddamn right I am. I’ve stopped apologizing for that a long time ago. I actually think this optimism and the values of the Web matter now more than ever. 

As I scroll through my feeds littered with stories of deplorable behavior coming from the tech industry and beyond, I rest assured knowing there’s a massive community of people working on the Web that value honesty, openness, and collaboration. I’m so incredibly thankful to be a part of such an amazing community, and hope that in time the values of the Web permeate every aspect of society.

I feel like an idiot while doing my job. A lot.

Now there’s a damn good chance I’m actually an idiot, but the self-respecting part of me wants to challenge that notion.

When I get stuck on a task or am looking for recommendations for tools/resources/strategies/solutions/whatever, I often take to Twitter to ask for help.

Seconds after posting my quandary, my stream gets flooded with a host of advice, links, insights, and opinions. This “crowd-sourcing my knowledgesphere” is a wonderful thing. But one word in all those proffered solutions tends to stick out in my mind like a jagged, rusty nail ready to figuratively jam itself into my eye socket.


As in “Just update your ruby gems, generate a new SSH key, and run a git rebase...“

Just clone the dev branch, add those three grunt tasks, and recompile...”

Just use this software/platform/toolkit/methodology...”

“Just” makes me feel like an idiot. “Just” presumes I come from a specific background, studied certain courses in university, am fluent in certain technologies, and have read all the right books, articles, and resources. “Just” is a dangerous word.

We approach problems equipped with our own set of experiences, perspective, and skills. It’s extremely challenging to step outside of our own perspective when communicating with others, but it’s increasingly essential to do so.

The amount of available knowledge in our field (or any field really) is growing larger, more complex, and more segmented all the time. That everyone has downloaded the same fundamental knowledge on any topic is becoming less and less probable. Because of this, we have to be careful not to make too many assumptions in our documentation, blog posts, tutorials, wikis, and communications.

Imagine yourself explaining a particular task to an earlier version of yourself. Once upon a time, you didn’t know what you know now. Provide context. The beauty of hypertext is that we’re able to quickly add much-needed context helpful for n00bs but easy enough for those already in-the-know to scan over. And making documentation more human-readable benefits everyone.

I don’t envy those just entering the field of web development. In addition to learning the fundamentals, there’s an expectation to be proficient in an increasingly exhausting laundry list of buzzwords and technologies. I’m seven years into my career and still feel like I’m still on Chapter 1 of the Big Book of Web Design.

So think twice before suggesting someone “just” [insert any task here]. You just might make them feel like an idiot.