We Won a Contest: Chris Coyier visits ZaneRay

Jun 20 2017

In Montana not every other person at the coffee shop is a web developer. We do our best to attend industry conferences and do a lot of collaboration and learning on-line. It's fair to say, however, that we do trade a bit of casual collaboration with our peers for collaboration with our customer's customers. We have been actively working for an Outdoor Industry client list since the 1990's and we use the fact that we live in an outdoor paradise as evidence that we can design sites for outdoor people. So we choose being better connected to the outdoors ahead of being slightly less connected to the gurus of Internet development.

Then we won a contest.

Media Temple created the contest. Chris Coyier, Founder of CSS Tricks, CodePen, and a regular columnist on the Media Temple blogs, was the prize. The prompt read:

“If Chris worked in your office for one day, what would you have him do?”

We had a couple of entries as did a lot of other people. Everybody got pretty creative. Our entry centered on something we learned about Chris through stalking him on the internet: he likes standing on things and looking at lakes, and mountains.

So that’s exactly what we pitched. There are lots of companies that can circle an audience to learn the kind of stuff Chris has to teach, but not a lot can offer biking on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, in Glacier National Park, as an evening activity after work. That offer won us the contest, but we were not certain what the visit would really turn out to look like. It's not every well-known UI conference speaker who would really take the bait on something like that, flying to Montana and attempting a 4,000-foot climb on an epic mountain pass.

Chris and the Media Temple team were outstanding. They were all over the idea, flew in, spent a day driving a rented car up some gnarly dirt roads into the North Fork, hiked up Glacier View Mountain, and then met our team in the evening in West Glacier to begin a 20 mile ride into Glacier National Park. In May and June, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed while crews work to clear as much as 40 feet of snow from a road surface that sees more car per year than any other area of the park. Until the road is open though, cyclists can enjoy the ride each evening, on a road free of cars. It's one of the truly unique experiences Glacier has to offer.

Alec Rojas of Media Temple stops to take in Glacier's mountains Taking a break at the Loop Rolling along with Thomas Sebby, Henry Roberts, Jeremiah Martin and Chris Coyier Jeremiah Martin and Chris Coyier ZaneRay UI devlopers Colin Baxter and Tyler Furry

Chris Coyier at ZaneRay

The following day came the office visit. We laid out an agenda for Chris and brought through varying members of our team to listen in. Chris gave a talk about SVGs, an in-depth tour through Code Pen Team accounts, a look into the future of UI development, as well as a series of other roundtable tech talks.

Chris Coyier shows ZaneRay the way Chris Coyier shows give a talk on the future of UI development

It was a great day. Stuff we learned was put to use immediately. Concepts we discussed have come up many times since the team left. As the day wore on even rounds of espresso could no longer sustain the brain drain, and we eventually moved on to a pub crawl across the nighttime scene that is Whitefish.

While we are physically removed from Silicon Valley, we brought one concept full circle. After hours of making a variety of attempts, we finally stumped the Not Hotdog app by Seefood Technologies.

The team finally stumped the Not Hotdog app!

(actually, and onion ring and a fry. We may have not re-invented the internet that night, but at least we outsmarted Jian Yang)

The team survies a pub-crawl through Whitefish

The trip was immeasurably beneficial, with plenty of stoke to go around. After the whole experience had time to settle in, we hit the guys up for their thoughts:

Image of Chris Coyier “I'll never forget my visit to Whitefish, Montana and hanging out with the ZaneRay gang. It's an absolutely gorgeous place, being a gateway of sorts of Glacier National Park. I've done a good bit of world traveling in my life, and the sights in Glacier are at the absolute top of my list. To be able to see some of that with the welcoming team at ZaneRay made it all the better.

Then, not only did we get to adventure together, we got to talk shop together and take a look at a lot of the excellent work they are doing for some huge and cool brands. I was there to help, but I was the one who ended up doing all the learning.” - Chris Coyier, CSS Tricks/CodePen


Image of Alec Rojas “The Media Temple team had open minds coming into this experience. But from the minute they stepped off the plane and met up with the ZaneRay team, they knew they were in for something that will far surpass their expectations. Not only was it a joy to experience Montana and all its beauty but to be able to sync up with like-minded creative professionals was a real treat. It’s not every day that two teams can meet up and see eye to eye on so many things, from enjoying Montana to the technical challenges of powering and creating great websites. What a great trip!” - Alec Rojas, Media Temple