Home Officing: A Creative Oasis

Back in 2014, Freelancers Union surveyed professionals nationwide to discover that 34 percent of the US workforce were freelancers. In a recent study by the same organization, freelancers are expected to become the majority of the workforce by 2027, based on the steady growth in recent years. You can read more about the findings in this October 2017 Upwork article.

As the workforce changes, the traditional office setting is evolving into a more nomadic lifestyle as people begin to spend a majority of their time working from home or taking up residency at a local coffee shop or co-working space. If you google “coworking space okc,” there are at least six different locations that have popped up in Oklahoma City in the past couple of years.

I began my own freelancing adventure almost a year ago, and my home office currently consists of my kitchen table and my laptop. Although sometimes you can find me at the local coffee shop or the downtown library. There should be a saying, “Have a laptop and noise-canceling headphones. Will travel.”

While I am just beginning my freelancing journey, I do spend a majority of my time working at home. For me, it’s essential that the space be clutter-free, comfortable, and quiet. Working from home allows me the most control over my environment to get down to business. Someday, when I’m ready to move my side hustle from the kitchen table and into an actual home office space, these are some of my must-haves to really get my creative juices flowing:

  • Must have a door. This is probably an obvious requirement for many reasons such as privacy, noise and distraction reduction. Luckily, I do have two spare bedrooms that aren’t being used for much of anything, so finding a space with a door isn’t a problem.
  • A window for daydreaming. I freelance content for websites, blogs, and social media. This requires a lot of focus and concentration. But it also includes a fair amount of time for me to stare out into space as I’m trying to work out the next sentence or message in my head. I like the idea of a window that overlooks into a green area. I saw an example of a web designer’s home workspace and their desk was situated in front of a window with a view of a beautiful leafy bush. That sounds like a perfect place to inspire many creative thoughts without the distraction of looking onto a busy street.
  • Comfy-but-not-too-comfy desk chair. Let’s be honest, after a few hours of sitting on a kitchen chair, I’m ready to call it a day. It is not comfortable. My future home office space must have a comfy and ergonomic office chair with a comfy cushion and sturdy back support. But not too comfy to where I can just sink in and take a nap. It needs to be able to keep me focused and productive. In the meantime, I could upgrade my kitchen chair with seat cushions and back support cushions that are relatively inexpensive.
  • Double monitors. It’s hard to design on just a laptop screen or even when I’m doing research for an article and have to flip back and forth between multiple tabs. I so wish I had more than just this 17” screen to stare at for hours. It’s a total eye strain. I was recently introduced to the concept of a portable monitor. They are usually around the size of a laptop screen and can easily fit into a backpack or laptop bag. I love the fact that it’s a space saver and on days when I decide to venture out of the house to work, I don’t have to give up any screen space.
  • Inspiration designs. I want my space to inspire me from the moment I walk in. I would want it to be my creative oasis. Green is said to help contribute to productivity, so painting the walls a nice soothing green might not be a bad idea. Afterwards, I would fill the walls with images and quotes that inspire me and give me the confidence that what I’m writing isn’t complete crap. I think just having that alone in a work area would definitely help to motivate me. Some of these quotes would be perfect to frame and hang.
  • Notepad and writing tools. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of researching info for one social media post or article, and something will come into my mind for future content. Having a dedicated notepad to write this down quickly will save me so much time and keep me on my current track of thought. Usually I switch over to a “notes” doc and quickly record my idea and then switch back to where I left off. In reality, a pen and paper would be a more efficient way to hold onto that thought without disconnecting to where I was.
  • A space for my phone. So many times I stop what I’m doing because I see a notification on my phone. Next thing I know, I’ve spent 20 minutes looking at Twitter and totally forget what I was working on. In my future home office, my phone will not have a space on my desk but somewhere else out of site.
  • Reading chair. I’m often in the habit of buying books that tailor to creative writing, digital marketing or web design and they often end up on a shelf never read. In my future home office, I’d like to set up a little reading area with a comfy chair to encourage me to set aside time to actually start reading those books. This area can also serve as a useful “brain break” when I’m working hard but have reached a wall in my productivity.
  • Keyboard comfort. The way my current office workspace and kitchen table “home office” is set up, it often leaves me with wrists that ache and arms that have fallen asleep. I have glasses but don’t usually wear them, meaning I have to pull my laptop up close leaving my arms and wrist in a crunched position for hours. Raising my laptop up, using a chair with arms, and investing in wrist pads, can all aid in reducing the strain to my wrists. Pushing back my laptop, using a dual monitor with a larger screen and wearing my glasses could probably work wonders as well.

Having a home office doesn’t require a lot of fancy high tech equipment, at least not for my purposes. Things like a desk, an office chair, and a reading chair can easily be picked up at the local Goodwill or garage sale. All I really need is a decluttered and quiet space that inspires creative thinking and keeps me motivated.



Diversity Over Experience – Meeting Uber’s Apprentices

I recently read an article by Ginny Fahs about Uber’s Apprentices called Meet Uber’s Software Engineer Apprentices. The reader is given short bio information on each of Uber’s newest apprentices. It’s easy to see that none of the apprentices had the traditional background of computer science, IT or other technology-based degrees.

I think the most interesting part of the article was the different life experiences of each person. Uber seems to value the diverse backgrounds that the apprentices can bring to the company. I can understand how this would be appealing. If all of the employees had the same programming background, it might be hard to think out of the box to inspire creativity and innovation.

For example, some of the past work experiences for the new team members included a science teacher, a psychotherapist, photographer, and a psychologist.  Some of the commonalities in the apprentices is that they were looking for a career change and took on a coding boot camp to provide them with the introductory experience that helped them land the apprenticeship.

In the bios, most made mention of how passionate and supportive their team members were. The company culture at Uber seemed very inclusive. Companies like Uber can really benefit from hiring outside of the “normal” technical fields and bring people in that prove to be self-motivated and life-long learners. I think ambitious employees can bring value to a company that wants to be at the forefront of innovation, regardless of their educational background.

10 Tips I Learned from Chris Coyier’s Let’s Write Semantic Markup

In my latest class assignment, I watched the video Let’s Write Semantic Markup. The video was posted in 2011, and I do think that it could have been accomplished more efficiently with CSS grid. However, the point of the video is to recreate a Photoshop layout in HTML only with semantic markup.

Here are the tips I’ve learned from the video:

  1. Don’t worry about the looks at this part, focus on being as semantic as possible. Avoid switching from HTML to CSS when coding semantically.
  2. When naming classes try to use a descriptor without specifying what the part looks like. For example, if you are naming a navigation menu that is in a gray bar, name it as “main nav” instead of gray bar nav. This is to future-proof the code in case there is a redesign in the future.
  3. There should only be one ID tag per page (although from Chris’s comments and the guest comments on the video, this seems to be highly debated).
  4. Avoid using IDs for styling, but they are helpful for JS.
  5. Code the main content first before any sidebars or asides.
  6. Don’t use all caps in HTML. Save it for CSS styling.
  7. Don’t depend on divs use more semantic tags when possible. e., header, nav, main, footer, aside.
  8. Create a hierarchy of tags when necessary. For example, nesting <section> inside of <article> to show that the article is the main part of the page and sections are secondary info.
  9. Think of fieldsets as groups. They are more useful to use instead of divs in some cases if there are multiple grouped sets of inputs.
  10. Write code in order of importance rather than layout order. e., main content before left sidebar. You can use CSS to float where they need to be.

White Space Is Not Your Enemy – Chapter 8

This assignment had me choose an outdoor image to use as color inspiration for a restaurant. I chose a photo by Nick de Partee on Unsplash.

Something about the rustic look of the lightbulb against the green of the blurred background drew me to the image.

Using this photo, I was to answer the questions below:

  • How does your chosen color scheme “fit” the communication purpose of your restaurant (or another type of) site?

From this photo, I wanted to communicate an atmosphere that was trendy, rustic, and maybe had a farm-to-table sort of vibe.

  • What is your main color? State the color (in your own words, i.e., burnt orange, etc.) and paste in the hex code that you got from the photo using the ColorZilla eyedropper tool.

I used a lot of a dusty greenish gray throughout the mock-up. #738588

  • What are your accent colors? State the color and paste in the hex code that you got from the photo using the ColorZilla eyedropper tool.

My accent colors were a tannish color #c9a885 and a deep forest green ##385148

  • What are your dark colors? State the color and paste in the hex code that you got from the photo using the ColorZilla eyedropper tool.

My dark colors were black and the deep forest green

  • What are your light colors? State the color and paste in the hex code that you got from the photo using the ColorZilla eyedropper tool.

My light colors were white and the tannish color

  • Where will you put your “spots” of color for visual emphasis?

I used the tan color to draw attention to the page headers and I used the dark green on the event calendar.


White Space Is Not Your Enemy – Chapter 4

Web Site examples of the 13 design sins.


This is the website of the author Suzanne Collins who wrote the Hunger Games trilogy. I really hope that she has a better website out there somewhere and just never set up redirects. Which is probably a sin on another list.

Sins committed –

  • Cheated or Missing Margins
  • Trapped Negative Space


This website is for the art school at Yale University. It is editable by the students.

Sins committed –

  • Busy Backgrounds
  • Bulky Borders and Boxes
  • Too Many Fonts


This website is a small yard sign company in Tulsa.

Sins committed –

  • Tacky Type emphasis
  • 4 Corners and Clutter
  • Bulky Borders and Boxes


If you heard of the movie – The Room, it really should come to no surprise that this website is so, so, bad.

Sins Committed –

  • Centering Everything
  • Warped or Naked Photos
  • Stairstepping
  • Tacky Type Emphasis
  • Too Many Fonts
  • Bad Bullets
  • Windows & Orphans
  • Justified Rivers


White Space Is Not Your Enemy – Chapter 1

1. Choose one of your favorite material possessions. Describe the details of appearance, function, and the relationship between form and function.

One of my favorite possessions is my purse. It is simple in shape, small-ish rectangle bottom and it flares out wider at the top. Two straps at the top of the bag and a zipper. It has no pockets inside, just a wide open space. The outside color is a garnet color, and the inside of the bag is a pale pink. There is a little leather strap looped around one of the main straps with a square at the bottom of the little strap. This square has the shape of spade cut out, a symbol of the purse’s maker, Kate Spade. On the front of the purse on small gold print is the logo of the brand. The bag is made from 100% leather will clean-lined stitching all the way around.

The function of the purse is to carry things around. Like my wallet, keys, a hairbrush, various coupons and random slips of small paper.

To describe the purse’s form and function, I would have to say that the form does limit some of its function. Kate Spade is a well-known purse designer, and the form is very clean and minimalistic. It would function better as an object that holds things if the purse had some internal zippered pockets. But true to the style of Kate Spade, less is more. It’s a bag to be looked at and admired, but it does serve its purposes of carrying things, without sacrificing its iconic look.

2. Locate an item that has gone out of style. How do you know it is out of style? What clues does the object communicate that date it? Why is it outdated? Is it because of its form, function or both?

RIP The Cassette tape.

I know this has gone out of style because music can now be downloaded digitally onto your phone or laptop. It is rare to find a store that still sells cassette tapes or the devices to listen to them on. Long gone are the days of the Sony Walkman. Cars don’t even come with cassette tape players anymore.

I believe that it has become outdated first because of the advent of the CD. No more need to rewind to hear your favorite song or break out the pencil to spin the little tape back into place. According to Wikipedia, most of the major U.S. music companies had discontinued production of cassette tapes by 2003. In the late 1990s or earlier, CD started to decline because of smartphones. We can record and listen to music on our phones and download it onto the cloud to keep forever.

Form and function both contributed to its decline. Tapes were bulky to carry around as with their players. Although, the Discman was equally as bulky. The function no longer services its purpose since the cassette tape was limited to less than 20 songs. Now, your phone alone can play thousands of songs without the hardware or limitations that cassette tapes had to contend with.

3. Find an example of graphic design that communicates really well. What draws your eye first? Make a number list in order of the way your eye travels around the layout. Make a list of the information the design conveys. What emotions does the design produce?

Design to Explain’s Lil Joe Kid’s Toy Shop 

This super cute design is perfect to represent a toy store. The font, graphics, and color immediately send the message that it is designed with children in mind. I especially enjoy the flexibility of the little bear. It will look great in different mailing pieces as showcased on the Behance page. The bear can hold different objects that reflect whatever product or message it is trying to convey. The colors of the piece are eye-catching and the small design touches in the lettering give the piece a lot of fun personality.

The order my eye travels around the design

  1. The typography of “Lil Joe
  2. The bear
  3. The assorted toys at the bottom
  4. The yellow paragraph print
  5. The “Toys, Games and Bikes” line

The information that the design conveys

  1. It is a toy store
  2. It is for kids
  3. They have stuffed animals
  4. Probably targeted to the ages of infants to 10
  5. Great store to buy gifts
  6. It looks like a high-end store but the copy says “at discount prices”

The design evokes the nostalgia of FAO Schwartz or boutique toy shops. It makes me feel happy. The font, colors, and graphics are fun and happy.


Professional Growth Activity: Module 6

Name: Jenn Clore
Activity: Google’s Grow with Google Small Business Workshops
Description of Activity: free training, demos, coaching with Googlers and more.

Date(s) of Activity (also include times):

12/6/17 10:30a – 2:30p

Student Evaluation:

Why did you select this activity?

The topics were of interested to me in regards to my full-time job, and it was free. The workshop topics included presentation skills, search engine optimization, coding basics, and how to get found on the web. Another significant factor was that the workshops were presented by Google. As a web design student and a digital marketer, it’s always important to me to keep learning on ways to get found on Google and to better my professional skills.

Would you recommend this activity for other students? Why or why not?

Yes. It was an excellent opportunity to network with members of the community, meet local businesses invested in moving OKC forward in technology, and the presentations provided high-level overviews of search engine optimization and even some basic javascript.

The workshops I attended were:

Get Started with Code – This workshop taught you how to use javascript to create a sidebar in a Google Sheets document. We got to use Google’s script editor. I didn’t even know that Google offered one. For an intro to code workshop, I don’t know if I would have started right away with Javascript, but what can you do in one hour with many people who have no experience with code. I’m just proud of myself for recognizing that it was Javascript and I had a high-level understanding of the concepts presented in the workshop.

Intro to Online Marketing – This workshop went over how to create a free Google My Business listing, some tips on SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, how to optimize for mobile, and how to test your mobile and page speed.

Using Data to Drive Growth – This workshop gave a general overview of what a business owner should be thinking about when gathering data from Google Analytics. Some of the points discussed were using the data to determine if your customers would be interested in a new product, where your customers spend the most time on your site, the age range of your customers, and what to do with that information regarding marketing.

What did you like best about this activity?

I liked that they gave us workbooks with copies of the presentations or activities that we completed. They were good take-home pieces to reference in the future.

What did you like least about this activity? How would you make the activity better?

I thought it was super crowded but in a way that was great news because it meant that the community was interested in the information that Google had to offer. I wish the Intro to Coding class started out with something more basic instead of javascript. Maybe the standard Hello World HTML page to show people the basics would have been better. However, I figure that they were also trying to showcase Google products by having us use Google Sheets and Google script editor.

What is a creative idea/concept you can take away from this experience and possibly implement into your work?

I want to take the time to test mobile speed in my future web design projects. I wasn’t aware that they had a website for that: testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com 

In one of the courses, the instructor talked about the 5-second “Grunt” test. In 5 seconds, could a caveman figure out from your site: what service or business you offer, how can you get it, and what is it about.

I also learned about a new Google app that was recently launched. Primer is an app that gives you 5-minute interactive lessons on creating a business plan, marketing your website, and designing a great website. I’m definitely going to make use of the app.

Professional Growth Activity: Module 5

Name: Jenn Clore
Activity: Refresh OKC “10 Lessons From Running a Digital Marketing Agency for 14 Years
Description of Activity:  A Meetup event with speaker Tim Priebe from T&S Online Marketing. He shares 10 lessons he’s learned from hackers, customers, mistakes, employees, and successes over the course of 14 years in business.

Date(s) of Activity (also include times):

10/26/17 11:30a to 12:30p

Student Evaluation:

Why did you select this activity?

As a digital marketer, I’m always interested in any tips and trade secrets from fellow marketers in the local industry.

Would you recommend this activity for other students? Why or why not?

Yes. I’ve been to a few Refresh Meetups and I always have enjoyed the topics. The Meetup events are often relevant to the industry trends whether you are a marketer or a web developer or designer. From the  Refresh website – “Topics range from HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Content Management Systems (WordPress, Drupal, etc), Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, User Experience, Web Standards and much more.”

What did you like best about this activity?

I like the smaller sized group and the meeting space. I did enjoy the topic. Tim was a great speaker and I appreciated his love of reading and the books he recommended to read. I’m a little sad that I didn’t win his most recent book that he was giving away.

What did you like least about this activity? How would you make the activity better?

Tim’s slides froze in the middle of his presentation so he had to go on without it. But I appreciated his way of easing into moving along without the slides. He didn’t seem flustered and he was well prepared. But I would of liked it better if we did get to see the rest of his slides as I tend to remember better when seeing something instead of just listening.

What is a creative idea/concept you can take away from this experience and possibly implement into your work?

Tim’s 10 tips were –

  1. Identify your gaps
  2. Set goals
  3. Know your finances
  4. Manage your growth
  5. Get good at sales
  6. Develop a reoccurring model
  7. Develop your personal network
  8. Read
  9. Seek outside council
  10. Give back before its comfortable

I always try to read up on theories and concepts in the marketing and web design industries and that is one concept that I can take away. Setting goals and identifying my weaknesses is something that I can help further me professionally. I think that Tim’s advice is relevant to any business model even for those freelancing or just getting started.

Professional Growth Activity – Module 4

Name: Jenn Clore
Activity: SheCodesOKC “Lightning Talks
Description of Activity:  The first meeting of SheCodesOKC where some wonderful women will give lightning talks on what they have been working on! 

Date(s) of Activity (also include times):

8/27/17 2:00p to 4:00p

Student Evaluation:

Why did you select this activity?

This was a Meetup geared towards women in technology fields. I am hoping to gain some connections within the group should I have some future questions on class projects or coding in general.

Would you recommend this activity for other students? Why or why not?

Absolutely. It’s important for women in STEM fields to support each other and help further our growth in the industry. The women had different specialties and insights that I think will be extremely helpful to other women students.

What did you like best about this activity?

The various types of information that was shared. Five different speakers gave vastly different presentations. I feel that there was something for everyone. Here are the topics that were shared today:

  • Preparing for an Interview
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • Factoring in Page Load Times with Active and Passive Waiting
  • Gamification
  • React Setup with Webpack

What did you like least about this activity? How would you make the activity better?

Some of it was a little over my head but I think that was to be expected and it at least provides me with a general understanding should the topics come up in the future. I think in the future, maybe it would be helpful to have a theme for the topics. For example, a series of speakers about the interview process, or a series of speakers on Bootstrap uses. It was only the first meeting, so I’m sure it would evolve over time.

What is a creative idea/concept you can take away from this experience and possibly implement into your work?

In the talk about Page Load times, I learned that Walmart had a 2% increase in conversion for every 1 sec improvement. I think this helped to further cement the importance I should put into minifying any future web designs. The speaker provides up and coming tips to advance loading times with rel functions. They are pretty new so it isn’t supported on all browsers yet, but it will be.

Professional Growth Activity – Course 3.1

Name: Jenn Clore
Activity: Refresh OKC “5 Ways to Snore-Proof Your Message
Description of Activity:  Local professionals in the web design and development industry gather each month to discuss tips and topics relating to the field. This month’s topic discusses how to make your message break through and cause people to listen.

Date(s) of Activity (also include times):

3/29/17 11:30a to 12:30p

Student Evaluation:

Why did you select this activity?

This topic was of interest to me because I’m always looking for tips on how to decrease my bounce rate, increase my social share content and increase my email open rates. I’m also always interested in tips on how to write good content that other people want to read.

Would you recommend this activity for other students? Why or why not?

I do recommend joining the Refresh OKC group because you get to learn from professionals already in the web design field. I also recommend this month’s topic because I believe content marketing is so important to a brand and their message. The five tips that Amber shared with us were simple, real world examples on how to get people to listen.

What did you like best about this activity?

The speaker, Amber Parrow, gave simple, actionable advice to a topic that has been interpreted in a thousand different ways

What did you like least about this activity? How would you make the activity better?

She did go through the slides a little fast. She was on tip #3 before I even realized what was going on. Perhaps a little slower would be helpful.

What is a creative idea/concept you can take away from this experience and possibly implement into your work?

The best tip that she gave was #5 – “Get out of the WE mindset”.  Ms. Parrow explained that a lot of content talks about what “we” can do for you. It’s so true. I know I mostly talk about what my company can do, or what we can provide or what services we offer, but rarely do I talk about what decisions the homeowner has to make or what the homeowner should consider from their perspective. She shared a quote from author Ann Handley, “Get into your customer’s shoes and into their journey.” This is a tip that I will start implementing to make my writing sound more personable and more conscious of the audience’s needs.

Photos courtesy of Refresh OKC