Jamie Umak • Web & Media Designer — jamieumak.com
Jamie Umak is a professional web and media designer located in Frederick, Maryland. Jamie makes turns information into user-friendly content. Creating custom, beautiful design solutions are her specialty! It was a pleasure interviewing Jamie as a fellow lady who loves code.
When did you start coding?
My journey with web design and front-end web development began while I was in high school. I will never forget two influential teachers who encouraged me to pursue web design as a career path.
My Business Economics teacher suggested I enroll in web design classes. From the moment that I began putting my own designs (into what would be my very first of thousands upon thousands of lines of HTML) I was in love! I was fascinated with the idea that something could be published on the web and anyone in the world could see it in an instant. Also, my Art teacher saw how much I enjoyed working on digital assignments. She thought that creating digital media would be a great career path to pursue.
I decided to put these two disciplines together and attended college to study multimedia design with a focus on websites and interaction.
I first started out exclusively designing for the web by making websites unique and aesthetically beautiful with great usability. After some time though, I was eager to learn more about how websites worked in the browser. I’d ask myself questions about the nature of my design. How can I make the design work the way I envisioned? Will this design translate efficiently into code and what approach might be used to achieve it? How can I improve communication with the development team? And, in the days prior to responsive design, what would it take to achieve pixel-perfect precision? If an idea could not fully manifest, what would a good compromise be?
As I’ve progressed, I’ve learned so much along the way by simply asking questions. Having a curious and inquisitive mindset is a tremendous asset. There is something immensely satisfying about creating a concept, figuring out the best way to achieve it, and then building it all on your own. In addition to being a designer, having development skills gives me an immeasurable amount of creative freedom.
What are some coding projects you’re currently working on?
On a regular basis, I work on web design and digital marketing along with coding landing pages and email marketing campaigns. I work alongside back-end developers by managing their projects. It is great to collaborate with other professionals to come up with solutions.
In my free time, I like to build personal projects. At the moment I am in the beginning stages of volunteering to design and develop a purely informational website for local citizens as a public resource to inform them about their locally elected government officials. With web accessibility as a strong focus, my goal is to develop a beautiful yet highly functional, useful tool that everyone will be able to access from any device. The website will be free and accessible to all, serving as a tool for voters to make informed decisions without having to do all of the research on their own.
Do you have a favorite code editor?
I enjoy using Brackets. The layout is clean, easy to use, and it’s open-source software. I’m a big fan of open-source initiatives because of the community building spirit. Everyone can benefit from knowledge-sharing!
What is your favorite CMS?
When creating a new website, it’s critical to take a step back and pick the right tool for the job. This should be done at the project’s beginning, as it will set the foundation for how you work on everything from that point forward. I really love WordPress for its flexibility, user-friendliness, and the fact it’s open-source. There is also a large variety of helpful plug-ins available. The perfect plug-in has the potential to help businesses save time and achieve their goals in ways they never thought were within reach, which is a huge win!
What is your favorite coding language?
My favorite coding language is HTML and CSS. I enjoy working with the creative components such as styling the fine details of a website including colors, typography, grids, and imagery while having instantaneous control over how the final result appears and works within the browser. Browser support for the latest techniques is continually improving. It is an exciting time to be a web designer.
Do you have any advice for women learning code?
Never, ever, ever give up or tell yourself that you can’t do something. Always stay true to yourself and embrace what makes your point of view unique as a designer or developer. With every mountain you climb, remember that the view from the top will be amazing!
Always work with people who have good hearts that are supportive of each other. Seek out other professionals who are excited to implement new ideas without fear of failure. Challenges can seem less cumbersome when you collaborate with a trusted co-worker to figure things out and implement new ideas. Work with people who want to succeed. No one can do everything all by themselves. Collectively, it’s important to raise each other up for the greater good.
I will never forget an instructor in college who told me, “Never turn down an experience.” This is especially true when you’re first starting out. It is an important mindset to have. Diverse experiences can open doors to ideas and other opportunities in your career.
Through new experiences, you can diversify your background by learning as much as you can about how an entire website’s ecosystem works. Whether understanding how design and code work together or how it all ties into marketing aspects, it is important to know that the overall design and function of a website can make (or break) a user/customer experience. In what ways does a website fit into a company’s overall branding and long-term goals? Having this invaluable insight will make you a well-rounded designer and developer.
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