About

a photo of Jen Simmons

I'm a Designer Advocate at Mozilla, where I advocate for web standards and researches the coming revolution in graphic design on the web. I've spoken at industry events including SXSW, An Event Apart, Fluent, Generate, Future of Web Design, and Respond. My talk, Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts, was awarded Best Conference Presentation at CSS Dev Conf 2014.

I've become obsessed with web page layout. I expect everything about layout design is about to change, because we are getting real tools in CSS to do amazing things that were previously impossible. I've spent the last three years researching what's happening and is coming. You can watch my presentations, read my writing about layout, and check out my experiments. I recently joined the CSS Working Group, to dive deeper into the CSS specifications and have more influence on what comes next.

I am also the host and executive producer of The Web Ahead. The show won Podcast of the Year at the 2015 Net Awards. Dubbed “the Terry Gross of the tech industry,” I love doing in-depth interviews that explain emerging technology and predict the future of the web.

It doesn't matter whether I'm designing for a stage, a piece of paper, a stereo, or a screen — every project is about consciously creating an experience for another person, and presenting it to them. I've been doing just that for over 20 years.

I started messing around making webpages in 1996, and launched my first client website in 1998. I spent years making sites for small businesses, arts organizations, and creative individuals. After I moved to New York in 2008, I started working on bigger projects with bigger teams. My more well-known clients include CERN, the W3C, Google, Drupal, Temple University, and the Annenberg Foundation.

Besides designing for the web, I spent twenty years designing for live performance and for print. I started making things printed on paper in 1989, and over the next decade I created thousands of postcards, posters, small books, bumper stickers, t-shirts, brochures, 80 issues of a monthly magazine and more.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, I designed lighting, sets, and sound for numerous performing artists, including Peggy Shaw, Lourdes Pérez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Beto Araiza, Sandra Cisneros, Paul Bonin-Rodriguez, and Cherrie Moraga. My work has been shown in theaters including BAM (NYC), PS122 (NYC), Gloucester Stage Company (Boston), Highways Performance Space (Los Angeles), Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (San Antonio), Jump-Start Performance Co. (San Antonio), the Vortex Theater (Austin), and The Off Center (Austin). Most notably, I designed and created seven-channel projections for Violet Fire, an opera about Nikola Tesla composed by Jon Gibson. Performed by a Serbian cast and orchestra, Violet Fire opened at the National Theater of Belgrade, Serbia for the Royal celebration of Tesla's 150th birthday, and traveled to New York for the 2006 BAM Next Wave Festival.

I also directed several short films which screened at over a hundred film festivals around the globe, including Resfest, Media That Matters, Frameline, International Film Festival Rotterdam, OutFest and NewFest. Called by WFAA TV in Dallas “a brilliantly spliced national address that turns the commander in chief into a dove,” Bush for Peace (2003) played online to more than 150,000 viewers in the era before YouTube. Inclinations (2005), a romantic coming-out comedy, was acquired by MTV Television.

I taught as an Adjunct Professor for three years at Temple University’s Department of Film and Media Arts, where I earned an MFA. Before that, I was an Media Arts Instructor at the award-winning Say Sí: San Antonio Youth Yes, teaching video-game design, digital collage, and filmmaking to high-school students. These days I love to present at conferences, and teach wherever I can.

Some other random bits… Apparently, I coined the term "fail whale". I won Computer Science Student of the Year my junior year of high school for programming skills in Turbo Pascal. And I won first place at engineering camp at Virginia Tech for building a toothpick bridge that held more weight than any of the other seventh grader's bridges. There's my nerd cred for you. Yes, girls can win contests in structural engineering and in computer software engineering.

Follow me on twitter, @jensimmons. Listen to The Web Ahead at thewebahead.net.

Do you need a press kit for me? (Images, bio, etc). You can get that here.

Writing Published Elsewhere

Interviews