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Developer & Designer

Dawn Opus of HarrisJT

3 minute read

Where am I?

The personal webpage of Harris J. Thompson, a software developer and designer from Wisconsin. I wanted a website to house my professional portfolio as well as any writing I do. I could make (and hope to) websites in all different layouts using any assortment of colors and fancy animations but committing to one design that shows creativity and usability are of primary importance to me. So here it is, a portfolio, resume, blog, playground extravaganza.

I love to build on a platform that is usable to a hard-of-sight rural viewer with a 46” LCD and an urban toddler with a mobile phone on the complete opposite side of the planet. What other medium allows that?

What is harrisjt.com made from?

Well, React together with Gatsby mostly, but also with the help of Styled-Components, SCSS and plain old vanilla javascript. Keeping the site static while also harboring the power of React and Markdown tempted me away from the cave of vanilla javascript, css, and html, which all my previous portfolios were built from. Not that I dislike libraries, there is always a use case and need for a single trusted dependency that handles security and edge cases. To see some of the specific dependencies for this website, visit the package.json file on github.

The complete code for this website is available to anyone with internet access. I have always made my portfolio public because this serves multiple purposes:

  • This site is a public display of myself and making the source code fully accessible is an extension of that
  • The idea that at any time someone can comb through my code keeps me in check
  • I’m proud of where this site is at!

Plus I love Git so any practice I get using it is well received!


My planning style is surely not to be recast at any enterprise level, but it certainly has improved over time. I use Trello boards for all my planning, which I began doing when I was a project manager for the FeelTheBern.org volunteer group. I have long believed that writing down every idea that pops up in my head provides me a great well to draw from when I become stagnant, and I have seen great benefits from doing so. Trello allows me to organize ideas relating to a specific project and track them as a queue from “in progress” all the way through to “release” in incremental stages.

Most of the designing I do is in my head, but when I need to organize something complicated or validate myself, I draw it out on paper first. When first launching into a project I will also do some preliminary half-boxey half-detailed photoshop/Affinity versions so I can get a rough idea for colors and have something I end up referring to in order to make sure I haven’t lost sight of the original goals. I realize this is where I need to make improvements, but, I hope to make gains here through experience with projects that require the stuff in my head to be ‘comment-able’ by others, so that I don’t head in the wrong direction. I do like working this way, but am not at all averse to extensive planning and have been proven wrong many times given user and team feedback. Mistakes I hope continue to shape me moving forward.


Previously I have always trusted DigitalOcean as my hosting service and since they had me hooked from when I still had student credit, I am still running with them today for all my other projects. I like them because they forced me to learn the hard way to getting a web server running and securing it. For the purposes of this site, however, I am going with Netlify to manage continuous deployment from each Git push to global deployment. They offer sitewide HTTPS (which many competitors lack), control of headers and redirects, previewing changes, and an all around more automated deployment workflow. Namecheap is another resource that I had early student credit on, but continued using due to their easy and well rated systems. I have never had a single problem with Namecheap and you will find them recommended, along with DigitalOcean, and Netifly, across the web.

What’s Next?

I will continue changing this site for a long time, and I imagine it will look a a bit different year after year. Some of my plans include better animations for all my elements and logos, a page for “experiments”, and considering tags or comments on articles.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,