Where the design community meets.
Denver, Colorado Owner at Drift Management Joined about 9 years ago
We do have a growing startup industry. I wouldn't call the design scene large. I would certainly say it's competitive. I guess it just depends on perspective.
Cost of living is high in Denver, but a quick google search says that Portland could be even higher.
Roads and traffic - the crap part of the city for sure.
Homeless population is quite large here. With a liberal-leaning government, that's not going to change any time soon.
Everyone being active? Maybe... there are plenty of things to do no matter your preference. Everyone's going to have a difference social perspective. I don't think anyone wouldn't "fit in."
As for the weather: it's not cold here. Are you from Texas, Ryan? lol.
I live in Denver. I've been here for 15 years now. I would tentatively say that Portland is the better choice for you. Denver's art/hipster/design community is actually pretty small and isolated to a small part of the metro area. There are a few big design agency players that share an incestuous relationship of designers - I would say it's hard to break into that scene.
I would also say that trying to be an independent designer is difficult in this city. We're a big city, yet everyone still has a friend or relative that they're going to use first. You may be the best choice but it's hard to prove that here and still make a living.
So not a whole lot of opportunity.
On the up side: we have a lot of diversity here - so culture isn't lacking. However, if you want something outside of white suburban culture, you have to go looking for it. We're very segregated as a metropolitan area. I can look at a map and tell you the dominant ethnicity in the area. We have a diverse culture, you just have find it.
I personally love Denver. We have more sunny days than the sunshine state. The weather is usually really nice. It was 60 degrees on Sunday. The mountains are nice, but I feel like the city folk don't get up there much. The people are generally good people. I wouldn't say it's a highly-educated city, but it's not terrible either. It leans blue, but there are certainly red... and some very red people here in the metro area. We also have lots of good food thanks to our diverse culture. You could tour the world's cuisine without ever leaving the city.
To me, the worst part of Denver is the traffic. Our city planners have it rough, we were never supposed to be this big and the solutions they've tried to relieve congestion just aren't working. I live 12 miles from my job and my commute can be less than 20 minutes... but it's usually more like 45-60 because there's always traffic. Everyone complains about traffic here - unless you're lucky enough to work from home.
Crime is an ever-present issue (as with any major city). There are a lot of transplants who have no idea how to drive in snow. Locals hate you if you're not "native." Even a little rain makes the whole city shut down. People just don't know how to drive in general here. Your insurance rates will skyrocket because people suck at driving here. Most of the homes within the city limits are old. Unless you're doing the apartment thing, pretty much any house you buy will need upgrades. The only new builds are so far out of the city that I wouldn't say they're worth it. I'm sure I could go on, but I've written enough.
Even with it's shortcomings, I would never live anywhere else.
For other people though, I'd suggest Portland.
Personally, I think it's terrible. It's jittery and didn't even load the first time i tried in the latest version of safari. These concepts are fantastic in theory, but when you sacrifice the user experience for "pretty" concepts, you fail your customers.
I second his request.
I definitely understand your perspective. Security hasn't really been an issue for me. WordPress is certainly a target, but you can eliminate the typical attack points with very little effort. Of course, there are always unknown vulnerabilities, but that happens with every piece of software ever written. It's also true that WordPress exploits are more sought-after than say, Jekyll, but I trust the WordPress core devs to fix vulnerabilities quicker than anyone else.
I also know and trust the developers who produce the optimization plugins i use. If something breaks, they'll fix it quickly. I don't have that same level of trust with another platform -- especially the lesser-known static CMS's. Less can be more, but this works for me and I have no desire to change.
Would I say that maintaining a professional-level WordPress site is easy? Absolutely not. It certainly takes effort. But I've developed standards and workflows that work well for me over the years and wouldn't choose to give up the power of WordPress for something easier.
None of this means I don't have to talk customers into WordPress from time to time. Everyone has an opinion. Some customers come to me after talking with someone who's hardcore drupal or joomla and anti-WordPress. I laugh on the inside. It's not difficult to sell them on WordPress because most of their fears are baseless -- if you know what you're doing.
That's my final point. Most people don't know what they're doing. Few people have as much experience with WordPress as I do. I'm 10 years into the ecosystem at this point. It's actually tough for me to come in and clean up after different WordPress developers as I see really stupid things every single day. But it's my job... and if I didn't do it, my clients would have severe on-going problems.
Point being: I hear, understand, and validate your criticisms, but I'm comfortable with what WordPress is. It's certainly not for everyone.
I'm actually curious: what exact issues do you have with the speed and security of WordPress? I'm constantly hearing that criticism, but I’ve had the exact opposite experience. I’ve been able to optimize the security and speed of WordPress so it outperforms most of the alternatives. I have a few suggestions: a properly-configured security plugin like iThemes Security, a good webhost, a robust caching plugin like W3 Total Cache, a good CDN, and a good image optimizer tool like EWWW Image Optimizer.
I have no affiliation with any those plugins. Part of my business is to help my clients optimize WordPress by using the right combination of plugins and other performance strategies. iThemes Security closes most of the popular ways to attack WordPress installations. W3 Total Cache is complicated, but it's extremely important for caching optimizations. A properly configured CDN will improve your page load speed and actually help your SEO performance too. Lastly, the image optimizer will do the things most of us are too lazy to actually do ourselves - resize and compress images so they load properly.
With those plugins properly configured — yes, it takes time to learn them -- WordPress performs brilliantly. Here are a couple pingdom tools examples of sites I’ve optimized:
https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/c2dUuq/https://eciov.com/ - https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/bXixtd/https://driftmgmt.com
eciov.com is a blog that I’ve optimized. It’s very image-heavy but still loads the entire homepage under 2MB. The main reason it scores 91% on the scale is that I have external resources like analytics, twitter, and facebook loading on the site. Every external tool slows down your website. Use them sparingly. driftmgmt.com, on the other hand, scores a 98% because I use fewer external resources.
Sure, a static CMS is an alternative, but since you're already familiar with WordPress, maybe it'd be good to learn how to optimize it instead of giving up on it. I'm guessing that would probably take less time than learning a completely new CMS. I personally have no interest in moving away from WordPress, but that’s because I like its flexibility and expandability — and I’m good at optimizing its performance.
To me, these examples seem worse than the average DIY site builder used by cheapskates everywhere. If I were a potential customer of that law firm, I'd look elsewhere because that website is terrible. My mind thinks: "If you can't afford a well-designed website, you probably don't win cases." Is that fair? No... but I certainly know that you don't understand and appreciate the things I do.
I second Airmail. To me, the last few months with it have been awesome. It had ups and downs, but they're finally stable (at least, for me) and you can sync everything via iCloud to the just launched Airmail for iOS.
Installed. I'll give it a go. Thanks.
Where the design community meets.
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Justinmind.com - I went through about 50 prototyping tools and settled on this because of it ease, extendability, and collaboration tools. We have about 15 stakeholders in each project we do and all of them want to see the designs as they progress. The sharing/commenting capabilities of this seems to outperform everything else. The learning curve was simple tool. It doesn't seem to be as popular as it should be for the capabilities it has. Does anyone know why?