Sticking to the essentials, with Sara Soueidan | Fixate

Published Nov 16, 2017

Sara is a freelance front-end web developer, author, and speaker from Lebanon. She was named Developer of the Year in the 2015 .net magazine awards, and awarded a Web Platform Award from O’Reilly. Sara is the author of Codrops CSS Reference, and is the co-author of Real-Life Responsive Web Design, which focuses on smart “responsive” workflows, effective UX patterns, and powerful front-end techniques.

Time Stamped Show Notes

2:33 – Sara is passionate about the possibilities developers have to build useful things for people and for the generations to come. She believes developers have the tools for building the future, and is excited by the fact that the web is getting more powerful by the day.

3:21 – Sara says that learning and teaching have opened a lot of doors for her. She first got into speaking because of the articles she wrote whilst experimenting with, and learning new features. She actually got her first job from her experiments on CodePen.

4:34 – Burning out after working on a project taught Sara about what to do, what not to do, what to expect, what not to expect, and to tell clients what to expect and what not to expect.

8:16 – Sara explains that she doesn’t use a lot of frameworks or tools. She uses HTML, CSS, and Sass. On very simple projects, she doesn’t even use Grunt, Gulp, or any other build tool like that. She writes with the bare minimum.

9:00 – Sara uses Alfred to speed up her workflow.

9:37 – TextExpander helps Sara save time by allowing her to respond to frequently asked questions in emails she receives using templates.

10:17 – Sara loves Sublime Text as her editor, and uses a lot of the plugins that come with it to help her type less.

10:52 – Sara works early in the morning to avoid distractions on Twitter.

11:27 – Sara removes any applications, such as email and Twitter, from her work computer that are not essential for work.

13:05 – Larry mentions how Dash is an app that aggregates documentation, and also integrates nicely with Alfred. It also has its own snippet manager, similar to TextExpander.

13:56 – Sara finds that she doesn’t have the most productive way to set up projects. She currently uses Jekyll for her website, but the bigger the website becomes, the slower Jekyll becomes.

14:30 – She admits that Grunt, Gulp, Browserify, or Webpack would make her workflow better, but she finds the thought of installing them and getting them to work overwhelming.

15:42 – Sara is excited about CSS Grid, because it’s like a CSS framework without a framework. She believes that there’ll be no need for any kind of CSS framework to build grids and websites in the future. She mentions that she has never been a fan of frameworks like Bootstrap as she feels there’s always too much to edit, change, and fix.

16:21 – Combining CSS Grid with Flexbox is “like magic”.

17:23 – Sara makes time to learn new things when she needs to use new things.

18:48 – “Java is to JavaScript as car is to carpet.” Sara studied Java in university. Learning that there was a fundamental difference between Java and Javascript, and that there was a mental shift required in order to work in the different languages has changed the way Sara views technologies.

Quickfire Questions

20:17 – Best advice about programming

Learn the basics. Learn HTML, CSS, and native JavaScript before rushing into frameworks. Learn what you need, when you need it.

20:46 – Habits for writing better code

Thinking from a user’s perspective, not only a developer’s perspective. Test components early on – not code testing, but user testing.

21:39 – BookResponsive Design: Patterns & Principles by Ethan MarcotteGoing Responsive by Karen McGraneAdaptive Web Design by Aaron GustafsonInclusive Design Patterns by Heydon Pickering

22:50 – Inspiring devsEthan Marcotte and Jeremy Keith. Sara is inspired by anyone who works for the user and who teaches people in the industry to care about them too. She likes that these two authors teach developers how to write better experiences.

24:40 – How to learn code from scratch

Sara says that she would definitely be overwhelmed at first if she had to learn programming from scratch. She mentions that she is thankful that she had a mentor to help her get started from the right place. She would start with the basics, because she can’t use a tool or a language unless she really understands it.

25:34 – How to work smart

Work healthy. Take care of yourself and to get enough sleep. A healthy body is a healthy mind.

Books, Tools, and Tech Mentioned

CoDrops CSS Reference




Alfred App




Sublime Text



The Smashing Book 5: Real-Life Responsive Web Design

Contact Sara

twitter: @SaraSoueidan



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