From Geocities to GirlDevelopIt: Front-End Fun With Jenn Lukas
Jenn Lukas is a multi-talented front-end consultant and freelancer developer in Philadelphia and is the founder of Ladies in Tech. She writes for The Nerdary, is a columnist for .net magazine, and has contributed to The Pastry Box Project and A List Apart. We recently caught up with Jenn to discuss the glory days of Geocities, the joy of teaching HTML and CSS, the ecstasy of sandwiches and typography, and other frolicsome topics.
How and where did you get your start in design, web or otherwise?
My freshman year of college I discovered the magic of the T1 line while living in dorms. My mind was opened up to Napster, Counter-Strike lan parties, and Yahoo Geocities. I was infatuated with all we could do on the web and created a Geocities home page for my college radio show. I’m pretty sure I used a font similar to this and gifs like this.
Tell us about Ladies in Tech and GirlDevelopIt.
I’ve had the pleasure of teaching beginner HTML and CSS for GirlDevelopIt since the inaugural Philadelphia class. Working with the ladies over there has been great! I’ve seen a variety of teaching methods when it comes to beginner code and I’ve ended up on tactics I feel most comfortable with and that I enjoy the most when learning. This includes project-based learning in an open, comfortable environment where I also like to add some humor and cute animal pictures.
I launched Ladies in Tech a bit over a year go with the help of Yesenia Perez-Cruz and my sister, Alexis Lukas. After an experience where I was one of three women at a conference, I decided to submit a talk to the same conference the next year. My thinking was if I wanted more women at conferences, I should put myself out there as a speaker to have more women on stage. We wanted to share stories from other women, so that readers could relate to these stories and take the leap to get into public speaking.
We’ve since launched a podcast and a meetup in Philadelphia with the help of more awesome ladies. Next steps include expanding the workshop/meetup to other cities with other women that want to bring Ladies in Tech to their homes.
What has you really jazzed these days?
I’ve actually been really into side projects that are outside of my usual day-to-day of front-end design. I always loved video editing, so recently my friend and I started a silly cooking show, Cook Inside the Box, where we only cook really strange/gross recipes that are found on the sides of boxes. It’s given me a chance to do some video editing again, something I haven’t done since college, and also to have some fun!
You’ll be giving a talk called “The Developer’s Ampersandwich,” which sounds delicious, by the way. What will people take away from it?
I love sandwiches and typography, so I’ve combined the two into an hour talk! I’ll cover tools and tricks we can use to help our process when it comes to implementing web type in our projects and how to make smart decisions regarding type choices. I’ll also talk about options we have for including icons on our pages and how those and web fonts effect our page speeds, a super important topic in this mobile-heavy, varying-connection-speed world we find ourselves in.