Sr Web Designer + Founder

I'm Derek J and I've been designing websites since 2018 for non-profits, small businesses, edutech, and startups. At night, I'm building a Bible study app.

My Experiences

  • One Branding
  • Lead UI/UX, Webflow Developer
  • Derek J Design
  • Freelance Web Designer and Webflow Developer
  • Eternity Church
  • Experience Design Lead
  • Apple Retail
  • Specialist to Pro in Sales

I tell my family that I make rectangles for a living.

People say that I'm able to adapt to various styles, work fast, and always think through possible better experiences that challenge the norm. At the end of the day, I like the color orange and try to stay minimal for my own sake while also being playful.

Here's my design journey...

How I got into design

The first moment of me designing that I remember is creating custom environments for my Micro Machines on notebook paper with markers. From there, I would witness my dad design our house in AutoCad and would enjoy drawing floor plans and elevations on grid paper.

Then came downloading the Sketch app, my first digital design tool what wasn't MS Paint.

My first ever client

My first ever client was Chris Ducker. He needed a logo for his blog and I only charged $100. This would be in 2010 and throughout my college days I would contribute to a blog about blogging, tinker with Wordpress themes on Themeforest, and launch a design blog and then a college tips blog while having an opinion column in the student newspaper, Iowa State Daily.

Side note: The Chris Ducker logo has been slightly update but the core still exists today.

First serious design job

In 2018, I was given the opportunity to lead experience design at my then church. The responsibilities included designing all physical spaces, digital screens, and managing our digital properties.

Months prior to the world shutting down in 2020 I learned Webflow and began redesigning the entire website. One of the new features of the site was something called "Chat with a Pastor" where I used no-code tools to create a service that would allow anyone to schedule a chat with a pastor as soon as same day. This got the attention of Hillsong Church.

Freelancing full-time

Shortly after Easter I started thinking about leaving my design job at the church. Then came June and I had left to start my own business for the first time. Setup an LLC, focused on the connections I did have, and slowly got business.

Things weren't great, but from June till March I was able to get by. In late March I would work at a local creative agency to focus on making Webflow websites. This would last less than 30 days as my personal life quickly fell apart and needed to regroup.

The latest

Fast forward to October 2022 when I was able to go full-time as a freelancer for a different local creative agency (One Branding) focused again on Webflow. They've worked with Yelp and so far I've had the opportunity to work with GoGuardian, IGN, and many others.

While contracting full-time, I have focused more on my design skills in Figma where I'm the Lead UI/UX Designer at said agency. We have a small, nimble team. Outside of the agency I take on my own clients from time-to-time where I focus on a content-first approach to designing and developing websites.

In my free time

A goal of mine has always been to transition away from doing client work. I'd rather have customers. Ever since I worked directly with customers in Apple Retail from 2012 to 2018 I loved to surprise and delight customers. Designing and contributing to the customer journey was also rewarding for me so I want to design my own for my own product/service.

This adventure started in 2021 when I had the idea of a family journaling app called Hike (fully designed in Webflow).

Now, I'm focused on building a Bible app called Harvous.

When I'm not working, I'm spending time with my fiancé (my best friend), my pets (my kids), friends over coffee or on X, and family FaceTime sessions.

Oh, I also like to:

  • Drive around playing music
  • Watch movies with a good soundtrack
  • Watch Dr. Disrespect play (shoutout to #ChampionsClub)
  • Play Cities: Skylines
  • Watch F1

My Notes