I’m Jenny Slaughter, a chronic systematizer and serial organizer. I live in Virginia, where I untangle chaos, make checklists, and build websites.
I’m energized by creating systems, designing interchangeable parts, and inventing repeatable processes. That’s why I love design systems and pattern libraries. I’ve built dozens of pattern libraries for large institutions and am obsessed with organizing, detailing, and developing perfect patterns.
I’ve worked officially in the web industry since 2002, although prior to that I’d made many websites for myself or any local organization with a domain name and a mission statement. The first site I built for a real client who paid in actual dollars was for a professional mandolin player.
It was a Flash site that featured a flying instrument. You could buy CDs via a form you completed, printed, and mailed in an envelope to the client’s home address. Music played on load and there was no way to turn it off.
I was immensely proud of it.
What I'm doing now
I work at NewCity, a web agency located in Blacksburg, Virginia. NewCity makes websites for lots of industries, but specializes in large higher education sites. I’ve been there since 2011, working primarily as a front end web developer.
Since I also have a design background, I occasionally fill the role of lead designer on small projects, or as an assistant designer on large projects. It’s hard to stay sharp in design while I’m writing code all day, so in my spare time I like to focus on art, making things, and creating in the physical world. I also occasionally do web and graphic design in a freelance capacity.
I’m a remote worker, which means I spend a lot of time fixing bugs to avoid doing laundry, or vice versa. In 2016 I transitioned to working from home full-time, so getting human interaction only from Slack feels normal and healthy to me now. That’s an exaggeration — I also interact with humans by nodding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in video calls.
Design System Specialization
I’m a proponent for design systems and frequently evangelize about atomic design by giving conference talks. I enjoy public speaking in an educational context — sharing what I’ve learned and connecting with others who are also learning.
Preparing a presentation about a topic is always an educational experience — even for topics I know well, I always learn more when I have to break that knowledge into bullet points (jk I would never fill a slide up with bullets, that’s gross).
In my spare time I tend to collect hobbies rather than drilling deep into a particular interest. I’d recommend this if you want to learn about a variety of topics and spend a lot of money on equipment and supplies you’ll never use again.
Most of the things I experiment with tend to be vaguely art-related: painting, interior design, pottery, sewing and fashion, photography and videography, cake and cookie decorating. If you can make it and slap art on it, I’m into it. I’m a maximalist, and I love patterns, textures, and loud colors. NewCity took a gamble on this parade of questionable taste by allowing me to design some of our office when we relocated to downtown Blacksburg in 2015.
My love for systems extends beyond those constructed with code. I see beauty in organization, and have a system for nearly everything in my life — enough that it probably annoys all the people in my life. I own the same shirt in thirty different colors and prints. I created a rotating calendar to tell me what I’m making for dinner. I enjoy packing things into cars.
All of this probably makes me sound super rigid and uptight. But an inflexible system is a bad system! The systematized things clear the deck to create time for non-systematic, fun things. I love hosting parties for my family and friends and will invent any excuse to throw one. Yes, each party gets its own Trello board. How else?
Here’s a picture of me flying a plane (assisted heavily by my pilot friend), the first mate view I typically occupy in my sailboat (I just follow orders and pull ropes), and the CSS joke I put on my car despite me trying to pretend I’m a well-rounded person with interests beyond web development.