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Stephanie Eckles
Stephanie Eckles

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Nevertheless, 5t3ph Coded

I grew up on a farm and ranch in Nebraska. Those in the states may be familiar with the term "flyover state" meaning that it appears nothing much happens. Agriculture is the state's largest industry, and Nebraska is strongly associated with corn and cows.

As a kid, I discovered an interest for art, photography, creative writing, tinkering, and building. I would put my whole heart into a project if it let loose my creative energy.

When I had the opportunity to attend a camp and learn Macromedia Flash, it opened the door for me to "put my art on the web". I made some silly cartoons, but at the time, since it was the height of Flash, it was also common practice to create "splash screens".

I spent hours combing forums to get my ActionScript questions answered so I could create my splash screens. I had to upload everything very manually via FTP. I don't even remember how I managed to figure out how to buy a domain and hosting. I also created some sites using AngelFire and Homestead (holla in the comments if you know!).

Everything for me was Flash-based, until MySpace. Then the world of CSS started to come into focus. But it was still reliant on tables, and IE6 and Netscape were the top browsers I was familiar with.

I entered college for a degree in Advertising "to get some business skill but still be creative" and mostly felt like classes got in the way of learning to code. However, I took a free 1-credit class that finally prompted a lightbulb moment about CSS positioning. I also was prompted to create a blog, and next thing I knew WordPress became my primary jam.

Discontent to just go to classes with no code focus, I was able to get several internships that allowed me to code. One was maintaining the local Parks and Recreation site with Dreamweaver templates (it still exists unchanged except for content πŸ™ˆ). I began to learn jQuery, starting with the project that is a right of passage: slideshows. I started my several years long relationship with FancyBox, and also learned how to query an API to pull in latest tweets.

Following that internship, I started an internship at an advertising agency which would transition into my first post-college job. There I had many design opportunities. More importantly to my career, I was tasked with projects that pushed me to learn how to go beyond standard WordPress themes to customize experiences.

I remember the day my boss plopped down a GIANT book on PHP and said, "Do you want to learn it?" and I said thanks but that wasn't the type of thing I was interested in/comfortable with, and backpedaled out with growing anxiety. He was humored and didn't push it, but surprise! I did end up learning PHP πŸ˜…

I spent a decade with WordPress as the foundation of my stack, and it was wonderful because the WP community is outstanding, resources are plentiful, and the sky was the limit on how far you could push the platform. I was able to speak at WordCamp KC and WordCamp Omaha.

I joined a large enterprise after the advertising agency and rose to the lead web developer of the in-house marketing department. We were not your standard marketing department. We handled "brochure" sites, but also took on much grander projects.

I was happiest when creating sites that were web apps, finding myself with a love of E2E frontend systems design. So in the fall of 2018, I pursued a role on a software team within the enterprise.

Since then, I have been leading the development of our enterprise design system as well as contributing frontend development to my product team. I have definitely found my happy place and it would be difficult to take on a role not related to design systems, React, or with a strong frontend focus that also had leadership and community building opportunities.

That said - I was feeling a little creativity lost in doing project management duties. To help counterbalance that for my own wellbeing, I made a goal for 2020 to produce a web development series for beginners. As of this writing, I have published 12 episodes πŸŽ‰ I'm still getting used to the video format but you never know until you try, right? And based on reception on DEV, it seems it might have been the right time to appeal to beginners.

If you're interested in the series, here's the intro post, or maybe you'd like the "Intro to Accessibility" or to learn about the "C" in CSS.

Four years ago, I became a mom, and now have two strong, independent, creative, bookish, silly daughters πŸ₯° I am excited to mentor them into pursuing their interests, and teaching them to code when/if they are interested.

But I did hit a slump and had a major uprising of imposter syndrome while struggling to find balance between my identities of "dev team leader" and "Mom". In fact I would say I didn't officially hit my stride until a few months ago when I struck up creating the video series.

I have a desktop background that I acquired quite some time ago so I don't know the source that says "Always be creating or die". I've found this is extremely true for me. I am definitely most in balance when I can create. Beyond the video series, I'm trying to take more time to play and using CodePen as my outlet. Subtopics I've grown a fondness for are color on the web, CSS patterns (my latest experimental obsession), SASS, and making it easier for developers to adhere to accessibility guidelines.

If you've made it this far - thanks! The moral of my story is that it takes many stepping stones to arrive where you feel the most comfortable. There are lessons everywhere, and even if you change the languages you use or the type of projects you work on, your history will help propel you forward.

Keep on codin' on 🀘

Top comments (5)

katnel20 profile image
Katie Nelson

Thanks for sharing that Steph! I enjoyed reading about your coding journey.

5t3ph profile image
Stephanie Eckles


wrldwzrd89 profile image
Eric Ahnell

I can relate, Stephanie (or 5t3ph, as you playfully put it)... substitute C# for PHP, and ASP.NET / ASP.NET Core for WordPress. So glad I stuck with it, though!

5t3ph profile image
Stephanie Eckles

Nice, great job!

xufyan23 profile image
Sufyan Shahid

What a great story!! Your CSS solutions are always helpful.