Learning from unsung heroes like Ed Merritt

Paul Boag

As part of a new series on the Headscape team, I would like to introduce you to Ed Merritt. I am sure he will inspire you as much as he does me.

Don’t you hate web designers who spend their whole time writing blog posts and speaking at conferences. You know, without ever producing work. Web designers like me!

You hear the same old names time and again, while there are other brilliant designers who toil away in obscurity. The people who do the real work. Ed Merritt is one such person.

Ed is one of those designers who produces amazing work, but never shouts about it.
Ed is one of those designers who produces amazing work, but never shouts about it.

So I thought I would tell you about him. He hasn’t won any awards, is never in the spot light, but is one of the best designers I know.

What I love about Ed’s design philosophy is that he knows when to reduce and remove. He never over works a design, instead making every element justify itself. He can do more with some simple typography than any number of fancy graphics. This site is a testament to that.

Ed understands the power of simplicity. Just look at the Broads Authority website.
Ed understands the power of simplicity. Just look at the Broads Authority website.

Learn more about Ed’s work on the Broads website

And boy does he love typography. The man is a typographic nerd of the highest order. He even creates his own fonts.

He understands that good design oozes simplicity. Yet simplicity is hard to achieve. It requires huge self control and confidence.

Ed has the ability to capture the essense of an organisation as he did with the Chelsea Pensioners.
Ed has the ability to capture the essense of an organisation as he did with the Chelsea Pensioners.

Learn more about Ed’s work with the Chelsea Pensioners

But Ed isn’t just a great designer. He also codes. For him code and design go hand in hand. The medium defines the design and vice versa.

He has a pragmatic approach to coding that I really respect. He builds code that is modular and reusable. But he doesn’t take shortcuts.

He uses a grid system, but one he has built himself. He believes that he should understand every aspect of his code, otherwise it is hard to fix things when they break.

He is also always innovating. Ed started using media queries for vertical responsiveness before anybody else in the industry.

There is a lot we can all learn from Ed. We can learn about the importance of simplicity. We can come to appreciate the role of typography through his work. And we can see the balance between coding efficiency and understanding of what you have built.

Ed is never going to win any design awards, but not for lack of talent. He is just too busy designing to worry about that kind of self promotion. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow his work and learn from him.

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