I’m saddened to learn about the passing of Dean Allen this week. He was one of the great writers and designers of the independent web. And he created one of the best content management systems of the early 00’s – Textpattern. Nearly every site I built between 2005 through 2010 ran his software.
I never knew Mr. Allen. But, he made it cool to be a web designer. I worked my way through college as a web designer (1995-1999) while pursuing a degree in graphic design. It was a traditional program, and it taught me well for print media. The Web was too new then to have a large impact on the curriculum.
Outside of the confines of higher education, I would join other groups of designers after hours in the hopes of forming a peer group. To many of them, I wasn’t a “real designer.” Web design was a joke to them.
I felt like a second class citizen. Until I found Textism.com. Until I read Dean’s words. He had been a book designer, with a firm grasp on typography. And then he saw the beauty of the Web and jumped all in.
He would describe in great detail how the craft of design coalesced with the Web. He dressed the part of a “serious designer,” negating the stereotype that we all wore sweatpants and this whole thing was a fad anyway.
Most importantly, he made me want to write. He made me feel like it was possible to love writing, design, the Web, and that they didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Which in turn, inspired me to keep working on my comics. That I could find a way to have it all in a career, a life, well lived.
I will miss the works and the words of Dean Allen.
Remembering Dean Allen, Around The Web
- Om Malik’s beautiful post on Dean Allen
- Jason Kottke remembers Dean’s soup
- John Gruber on Dean’s influence on his work
- Matt Mullenweg remembers Dean