Above: John presenting on the intersection of responsive design and accessibility (see the related post). Photo by Katie Gehrt.


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My name is John Williams, and I am a web developer. (See my LinkedIn profile) I have been working professionally on the web since 1996, which I have lived through table-based layouts, perfected the faux columns technique, understand Adobe Flash development a lot more than is useful these days, and still have stress dreams about supporting Internet Explorer 6.

Oh, Flash. So many people were glad to get rid of it because they thought it would eliminate intrusive advertising on the web. How is that working out, I wonder? (I don’t actually wonder.)

Although web development is a technical field, and I have a somewhat technical background, I came into web development through my interest in written language. In high school my favorite class was English. I joined the English academic team in my freshman year – the first year my school participated in competition – and was a participant all four years. So of course when I went to college I chose to study Computer Science.

Computer Science turned out to be a real bummer but I got a close look at the World Wide Web a few years before it went mainstream. I created my own site, then created the first web site for Silhouette, Virginia Tech’s student literary magazine. I maintained that site until graduation.

My first job after graduation was creating and maintaining the first web site for my hometown newspaper. In order to put stories on line economically (and through a dialup connection) I built a rudimentary content management system using Dave Winer’s Userland Frontier. I didn’t even know what a content management system was. It was 1996. I don’t think anyone knew what a content management system was.

My point, and I have a point, is that my interest in the web has mostly been a publishing interest. What is the best way for me, someone who likes words, to get those words online and into people’s eyeballs?

I occasionally speak at conferences on topics both technical and process-oriented. I’ve given several talks on developing web sites with an accessibility mindset, but my most recent talk looks at agile project management processes from a humanities perspective. That talk makes heavy use of the Robert Burns’s poem about a mouse and production trivia about the movie Airplane!.

Since then I’ve worked for several digital agencies and with organizations like FEMA, AARP, AAAS, and the Library of Congress. For the last twelve years and counting I have worked for NewCity as a senior developer with many higher education institutions, including my alma mater.

As a human person and not a worker bee, I still enjoy reading books. I also enjoy performing, writing, and thinking about music, but only consider myself particularly good at the last of those. I take a lot of photos, but I do so with a relatively cheap camera with a ridiculous zoom lens. Many of my photographic subjects are turtles because they sit still long enough for me to get them in focus.

About this site

I am a Drupal advocate and a React developer, but this web site uses neither. Why? For the same reason astronauts don’t fly rockets to the office. For a less flippant answer, see my portfolio.

Contents © their respective publication dates or 2019. This John Williams did not write the theme to Star Wars. “Elfin John” was originally a Tim Conway character.