Dropping in on Justin Scheetz

Justin Scheetz is a graphic designer and web developer working as the lead developer for Altitude Marketing. Justin lives in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Most of us our familiar with Justin via his amazing templates on ThemeForest.

Many of us are familiar with you through ThemeForest and Design Snack. However, for those of us who aren’t, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for this great opportunity to speak out on such a large scale. There have been quite a few interviews by some big name people here, and I am truly honored and humbled to be one of them.

I’m pretty much your average web designer/developer, loving my job and the fact that I can provide this way-cool service to people all over the world, it’s really just a fantastic career to be in right now.

I’ve been designing and developing for over 12 years now, and those years have been some of the most interesting of my life. So much has changed. And so much has not *cough* Internet Explorer *cough*.

I’m currently the Lead Developer at a phenomenal, forward-thinking marketing firm just five minutes from home, Altitude Marketing. I’m not sure I could be in a better place right now.

What inspired you to create Design Snack and what sets it apart from other galleries?

Design Snack was created back in 2004 purely to bend my PHP/MySQL limits. I was just starting to learn PHP at the time, and figured that a web design gallery would be a great learning tool, as they were beginning to become the “big thing” in those days. Back then, there were just 5-10 other big design galleries I could name off hand, and they became my inspiration.

These days, as we all know, there are hundreds of popular web design galleries all posting some great work, and I personally use a number of them to get inspiration for my current projects.

Where do I think Design Snack stands out? We take all submissions, good or bad, and let the users decide which ones deserve to be ultimately showcased on the homepage. This creates a close-knit community at Design Snack that no other gallery can provide.

You’re currently living in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. What’s your favorite thing about where you live?

Ah, the Lehigh Valley. It’s a beautiful place, in the heart of eastern Pennsylvania. Lots of outdoorsy things to do here, but it’s not so laid back that we can’t rock out every now and then, either. There’s really something for everyone here, but I would say my favorite part is the community.

The town that I live in is very close-knit; everyone knows the guy at the local coffee shop, everyone knows where to get the best sushi. It’s just fantastic.

What is your favorite web trend for 2009?

Oh, but there are so many to choose from! I absolutely love the explosion of high levels of instant-interactivity going on with tools like jQuery (my personal favorite). I know this isn’t a new trend, but it’s still gaining speed. The possibilities seem to become endless, and it’s so much fun to work with.

Other favorites would have to include the big typography, block introductions you see on so many websites. It may be in danger of becoming overused, but I still like it a lot.

What would you say is your favorite item on ThemeForest to date?

Wow, a tough one. There are so many fantastic designers contributing to ThemeForest, so it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite. But to be fair to you and answer the question, I will say the YourFolio theme for WordPress. It’s just so versatile and clean; it pretty much can be used on any project in one way or another. Maximus is a great designer, too, so kudos to him.

And while we’re mentioning ThemeForest, I’d like to thank that team as well. They’re doing such a great job over there and I’m having way too much fun making templates and themes. Feel free to check ‘em out.

Do you use any CSS, PHP, or Javascript frameworks in your work? What’s your favorite?

As I said before, jQuery is used on almost everything I do now. I love the ease of use, the amazing support system and the number of great, free plugins is astounding.

For CSS, I recently started using the 960 Grid System in almost everything I do as well. It’s a great starting point for any web design project and provides you with a grid to keep everything lined up. The included Photoshop templates are really nice to have. The system also helps guide you throughout the whole process. From the design phase to the slicing phase, I couldn’t recommend it more.

*Editor’s note: To learn more about the 960 framework, watch this screencast.

What’s your favorite text editor, and why?

Personally, I use Dreamweaver. With syntax coloring, some great keyboard shortcuts, and FTP built right in, it’s got everything I need.

I’ll pop open TextMate though–for those quick edits–and I’ve tried out some of the other greats, like Coda and the new Espresso, but I still keep turning back to good ol’ Adobe.

Finally, is there anything else you like to tell our readers?

Yes, thanks for reading! If you’ve made it this far, I must be saying something interesting (hopefully inspiring), and I truly thank you for taking the time to hear me out.

I would also like to quickly add that I am working hard on the next big changes at Design Snack, which will include some great new community-focused features. Dare I say, the web designer’s Facebook? Well, not quite. But keep your eyes open in a few months for big improvements, cleaner code, updated design, and more. Oh, and lots of jQuery, of course.

Thanks again, and take care!