Erica Heinz (@ericaheinz) is a web designer in Brooklyn, NY. As a veteran freelancer, she’s work for a variety of clients and sectors, lately focusing on fast development around humanitarian and public sector projects. She’s also a teacher of web design, and of yoga.

Together, Prescott and Erica discuss tools of the trade, best practices for web designers, how to continue to learn, and how to avoid becoming overwhelmed by systems. This episode features the most in-depth show notes to date, with a ton of links to websites, tools, and tips.

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Show Notes & Links

  • Previous web designers on The Busy Creator Podcast, Niki Brown
  • Erica does Humanitarian Work and Rapid-Responce work
  • Occupy Sandy, built in 6 Days
  • Peace Talks in Ireland for the Council on Foreign Relations
  • A microsite for Richard Branson’s B Team, done in 3 weeks
  • Prototyping
  • Prescott hates the term “Product Designer” in the realm of Web Design
  • “Visual Designer” is a term that was fast outdated
  • Description vs. Rank in terms of job titles
  • Erica started in illustration, switched to design for the problem-solving
  • Terms like “New Media” for early Internet instruction
  • From fashion to packaging to software, Erica’s freelance career
  • Erica is an early adopter, but not bleeding edge
  • Studiomates, bunch of smart people
  • Using SASS to streamline a web workflow
  • is really just the basics
  • A Book Apart‘s books
  • Parsons, The New School for Design
  • ADOCHD (ADHD with OCD thrown in there)
  • “I have CDO …”
    I have CDO ...

    I have CDO …

  • Blister pack of pills … for OCD
    Blister Pack of OCD meds

    Blister Pack of OCD meds

  • The Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone
  • Not everything is a checkbox (I’m looking at you, Basecamp.)
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen on Amazon and on Audible
    Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • GitHub is the new View Source.”

“HTML elements are like the alphabet.”

—Erica Heinz

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“A really good website lasts two years, and then it's gone.”

—Erica Heinz

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  • Clarify team roles as to who does what (e.g. UX, front-end design, back-end dev.)
  • Stay ahead of the curve to avoid headache later
  • Use Post-Its on a wall; colour-code for different aspects
  • Keep a postcard wall (outside of the computer)
  • Rearrange your Top 3 on the board, use small Post-Its on top of the index cards
  • Find a set of tools that work _for you. _You don’t have to be up-to-date on everything.
  • Go for 80%; let go of the compulsive tweaking of the last bit.
  • Use three-letter client codes
  • Use bullets to indicate time requirements (e.g. •••big effort, •not so much)
  • Learn how to build stuff from scratch
  • Be honest about what you should be doing in each moment
  • Try yoga or breathing techniques


  • Systematize your projects for sharing and collaborating.
  • Maintain the system, but not to a crippling degree.
  • Keep email separated by inboxes
  • Keep learning. Keep updating your workflows and skills.
  • Erica’s workflow Phase 1. Content and Site Map, Brand
  • Erica’s workflow Phase 2. Visual expression, typography, and details
  • Erica’s workflow Phase 3. Development, frameworks
  • Comment your own HTML and CSS code (e.g. “// Trust me, keep this.”)
  • Change your routines every once in a while
  • Erica is a night owl, enjoys being “out of sync”
  • Break your day into 2- or 3-hour chunks
  • Keep “busy” work for later in the day, when your brain is tired

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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