Sarah Parmenter

Now for something entirely different…

I’ve been quiet. I know. It’s been a mixture of some very demanding client work and some personal musings over what will make me happy, both imminently, and in the future, and then making that happen.

For a while, I’ve become quite obsessed with the notion of blending physical and digital together. I’ve often used the analogy, it’s like a builder being able to completely makeover a house, with only the skill set he has. The sense of accomplishment and achievement one must get from this would be immense. In fact, I know it is, as that’s exactly what my Dad did with our family home back in the 80’s.

In a digital capacity, I’ve seen my own skill sets develop and change over the years, even though I’m still only 29, I feel like I’ve been through all the era’s of web design; the tiny pixel fonts, table-based, and so on – I now carry quite an arsenal of various different skill sets in the digital capacity, some, undoubtedly, more polished than others, but still – skills none the less. I love working for clients, especially clients who absolutely get what I do – but, I’ve also wanted to plough some of my energy into something I can call my own. I think, judging by others who have been in the industry a similar amount of time, you eventually reach that point, naturally.

A couple of weeks back, I took the plunge. I leased some space. At the moment, I can’t tell you what for because the paperwork is still going through, but its purpose is for something very different to what I do at the moment, as it’s for a specific service-based industry. A service that I don’t carry the skills for, but I don’t feel that’s important. It’s been done purposefully, so that I’m not tied to the shop in a working capacity and I still continue to keep the thing I love – being part of the web industry.

My days are still spent with my clients, but come 6ish everyday, I down-tools for clients and pick up on my own personal stuff. It’s already had some profoundly benefitting effects, on both personal and client work. I’ve afforded myself the luxury (and in my eyes, it is a luxury!) of working on my own stuff. The sense of rejuvenating creativity I’ve felt has really helped pick me up, after last year proving to be a difficult personal year – it’s good to have something that makes me leap out of bed in the mornings again. I also think, when you’ve lost something so precious and dear to you, your entire world flips, and the barrier of what is scary drops. A cliché, but you do realise that you’ll never be poor as long as you have great friends and family around you.

The change in me, personally, has been quite noticeable. I’ve found I have more concentration for my client work, and equally, can flip to personal stuff at the end of the day with as much energy as I have at the start of a working day. All in all, I’m feeling happier and my work is better for it.

So, with the new venture, it’s amazing what skill sets I’ve already been able to put to good use, and new things to learn, that I’ve never tried before, like CAD software for interior shop designs – that’s been very interesting. With my existing toolkit though, I’ve personally been through the branding, web design, multi-device design, email design, tons of print-based graphic design and most importantly customer design processes…and that’s just for starters – it’s a wonderfully bumpy road, filled with great memories in some instances, and proving that just like learning to ride a bicycle, there’s some skills you never forget.

I will be documenting the whole process – which will very much be done from the point of view of blending our skill sets as digital designers with stuff that exists in the physical world. I hope you’ll come along with me for the journey, goodness knows – I’m going to need some moral support – I’m pretty sure my friends think I’m bonkers.



Execute Book

Josh Long, my partner in crime on Happy Monday – sent me his book ‘Execute’ a few months back. I opened the beautifully presented book, saw a nice hand-written note from Josh and started to read. Back then, I found it very hard to concentrate on anything due to a personal tragedy that had happened – I found myself reading the first chapter over and over again, hoping the words jumping around the page would make sense. I closed the book and mentally said “that’s for another day…”.

In the meantime, I’d been speaking to Josh at various points via Skype. Josh had pointed out that an entire paragraph of the book had been duplicated and now the book was printed, he seemed disappointed but still with the lovely nature I admire him for, shrugged it off and said “ah well”. After finishing the book a week ago last Monday, I think this duplicated paragraph perfectly illustrates the ethos of the book, I’ll come onto that in a little bit.

The book itself is wonderful. Its format, reminded me of Rework by 37Signals – which is perfect for me. Succinct, shorter style chapters, and a lesson to be learnt and applied at the end of each chapter. I read Execute, almost entirely, on a train journey home from my iOS Workshop.

The combination of the narration from Josh and the practical advice from Drew, really makes this book a killer read. It talks about real-world problems and how to overcome these and push through a project to completion – fast, or as us Brits like to say, without dilly-daddling.

That duplicated paragraph spoken about earlier – is towards the end of the book. I got to it whilst finishing up the final chapters in the bath one morning. I tilted my head to the side as I recognised this was the mistake Josh referred to, but then realised it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book whatsoever. If anything, it’s a lesson to be learnt that although the book may not be 100% perfect, the fact it was created and shipped in 8 days, and now being enjoyed all over the world was a lesson to all of us. Mistakes are forgiven – don’t let potential mistakes hinder you from shipping something that brings far greater enjoyment than tiny mistakes that may be contained within. Your audience is always forgiving, you’re only human afterall.

Execute can be purchased either as a hardcover ($29) or eBook ($15).


Speaking up.

Six months ago, something happened to me that I kept quiet. Some of my best friends in the industry knew it was happening and tried to help as much as they could. I started writing a post back then about what happened, I got halfway through and found it too much. Coming back, maybe with a stronger disposition because of what happened with my Mum, I now want to share what occurred. It’s come to my attention that there’s a lot of females in this industry suppressing stuff that is happening to them, for fear of backlash or just wanting a quiet life. It also might answer some questions about another point. I’ll come to that later.

Here’s what I started to write back in August…

It’s with great sadness I have to speak up about something. I’m not sad myself, nor am I particularly hurt – but being scared into silence is not an option. The reason I’m sad is that the person involved with what I’m about to speak up about, could be a member of our community. Infact at the moment, everything is pointing to the fact they are. They are currently feeding off the suppression of this topic, so I’m writing publicly about it.

This week – someone decided to upload fake porn pictures of me to the internet – when I say fake I don’t mean my head stuck on someone’s body, but lookalikes or in some cases, just blonde girls with blue eyes and terrible taste in underwear. I digress. This is someone with far too much time on their hands and someone with a definite grudge. I’ve taught myself over the years to take the rough with the smooth and develop a thick skin, I’ve been free of online trouble for a while and rightly or wrongly, I was kind of expecting my run of luck to end. To say it caught me off guard, would be a lie, but to see how low someone would stoop, did. However, it’s amazing how resilient and detached you can be when you know you’ve been that boring your entire life that you’ve never taken nude pictures of yourself.

The interesting thing about what this individual did was show themselves as wanting to try and damage my professional integrity with blatant trolling. It all started a week ago from the date of writing this. I started to receive emails from creepy guys that eventually traced back to a site where various pictures had been posted to. The pictures were uploaded alongside my personal email address, (old) hometown and a screenshot of my Twitter account. There was also an open forum for comments at the bottom, which I’m sure you can imagine the type of things posted there.

This is where I stopped in August, and here is where I will continue on in my words now…

The timing of everything was carefully executed, they knew I was speaking at one of our industry’s best known conferences, ‘An Event Apart’ – they started to try and spam the feed ‘A Feed Apart’ on the day of my talk – they then tried, unsuccessfully, to post to the ‘An Event Apart’ Facebook feed during my talk, they setup a fake Twitter account and tried to at-reply my employers for that conference as well as high-profile twitter users I was associated with, to ensure they knew about the pictures and their existence.

If you were at ‘An Event Apart’ in Austin last year, you might remember Jeffrey jumping up on stage and giving one of the best, off-the-cuff speeches I’ve ever heard, purely because he had only been told seconds before what was likely to happen during my talk. He said (paraphrased) “The feed is prone to trolls and spam at the best of times, at any point today, if you see anything derogatory about any of our speakers, please ignore it, do not engage with them. The conference is about everyone in this room, not outside, let’s keep it that way”. At that point, I couldn’t believe it had even gone through my head to have a stiff upper lip and try and soldier on without them knowing what was happening behind the scenes. I felt ashamed; that I was almost letting them down by being a speaker and bringing all this hassle to their conference. During my talk, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried at what the hundreds of faces, lit up by glowing laptops, were seeing or reading about me or what might have slipped the net. A feeling I would never wish on my worst enemy. Jeffrey, Eric and the team handled it with such aplomb and such care towards me as well, I’ll be forever thankful.

We never found out who did it.

This brings me to my last point. There’s many questions around why there aren’t more females speaking in this industry. I can tell you why, they are scared. Everytime I jump on stage, I get comments, either about the way I look, or the fact that I’m the female, the token, the one they have to sit through in order for the males to come back on again. One conference, I even had a guy tweet something derogatory about me, not 30 seconds into my talk, only for me to bring up the point he had berated me for not bringing up, not a minute later – which caused him to have to apologise to my face after public backlash. I’ve had one guy come up to me in a bar and say (after explaining he didn’t like my talk)… “no offence, I just don’t relate to girls speaking about the industry at all, I learn better from guys”. I could write a book on inappropriate things that have been said to me at conferences about girls in the industry, so much so, it’s become a running joke with fellow speakers. I know other girls who could also chip in a fair few chapters but, underneath the humour sometimes found in these situations, lies a very real problem.

It’s no great secret that girls are a minority in this industry, you only have to look at the queues for the toilets at any conference, however, it’s forgotten that it’s not about female speakers, it’s about finding female speakers who have enough of a thick skin to want to stand up infront of an audience of twitter-trigger-happy males and public speak. That’s an entirely different kettle of fish. Then ontop – when you finally feel comfortable with speaking, you get put into a big black pot and tarnished with the label “same old face”. This happened to me on my third ever speaking engagement, third? I was tarnished as a “same old face”. Since then it’s become water off a ducks back – I’m not going to let a label stop me from developing and growing my speaking skills, I’m by no means perfect and still have a lot to learn. We should be encouraging anyone who shows an aptitude or love for sharing their knowledge with the community.

The wheels are in motion for something I hope will address this, I will share soon and hope you will all support me in this venture.


Besquare Interview Part 1

On a cold day in December, just before Christmas – Craig and his lovely partner came all the way down to Southend to interview me for Besquare, a fantastic resource for conference talks. I’m so pleased to be a part of it. You can find part 1 of the interview below, look out for a cameo from Alfie.

Sarah Parmenter – Besquare Part 1

Besquare Interview

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Handy Shortcuts and Timesavers.

This is an almost incomprehensible list of handy shortcuts and timesavers that were sent to me from Twitter followers and friends yesterday. I promised I would blog, so here they are. Thank you to everyone who sent them in, we think we’ve just about caught them all.

Apologies that the formatting is a little hard, there’s no easy way to credit everyone and present such a huge list, and since Kathryn has been doing this all day, she needs a cup of tea now! Enjoy as best you can.


Sublime 2James Seymour-Lock, Tane Piper, Aaron.
Also love the ST2 shortcuts – just the default, such as multiple cursors, quick moving of code etc. Coding so much quicker now! – Rachel Shillcock.
Ctrl+P to open files by title, and Ctrl+R to go to functions by name, both in Sublime Text 2. Simple, yet effective. – Gonçalo Morais.
zenCoding in Sublime Text 2 + CodeKitPrisca Schmarsow.
Zen-coding(Now Emmet), Sublime Text 2′s multi cursors. CodeKit to compile jade, LESS etc. I can now design in browser quickly. – Chris Mousdale.
Code snippets in Coda 2. -Stuart Robson.
I made a Text Expander snippet: for designing in a browser. >out Expands to: outline 1px solid red; – Andy Clarke.
Turning off autocorrect everywhere and using my own Text Expander snippets to correct. -Pam McCormac.
Hayaku is like that but has been a revelation for my css writing this week. Only if you use Sublime Text though I think. – Liam Jay.
Ctrl + shift + c – to comment / uncomment whole chunks of code in netbeans. saves a lot of time. – Fearless Flyer.
Beanstalk for deploying websites. – Steve McKinney.
SASS + Compass. – Johnny Martin.
Front end, html 5 boilerplate is win! – Drew Watson.
The Query Extender control saves me loads of time manipulating data. -Drew Watson.
Dash (+ multiple snippets for coding) – Prisca Schmarsow.
Using Divvy for rapid testing at different viewport widths Henley.


Ctrl+E to merge in Photoshop, multi-line editing in NotePad++, F2 to rename in Windows, Win+D to minimise everything – the list is endless! – Luc Pestille.
Ctrl+Alt+R uploads a png of my current Photoshop doc to CloudApp then copies the link to clipboard. Always feels so efficient! – Chloe Briggs.
Cmd + F6 for a Photoshop action that slices whatever layers are selected into a new window so I can easily save it: – Jenni Leder.
Opt + click on the Eye Icon in Photoshop will hide the other layers from view. – Beardy.
Theres a duplicate group function between files in Photoshop CS6 ..Best ever! not quite a shortcut but as far as time savers go. Open both files, In source file right click said group, choose ‘Duplicate Group.’ choose destination filename from dropdown. Hit OK. – Brendan Devine.

Software and General Shortcuts

Alt+Space for Alfred App - Robert Eerhart, Johnathan Barrett, Rachel Shillcock, Wes Maynard, Aaron, Dan Mall.
⌘+§ : Alfred (appLaunch+ calculator) – Prisca Schmarsow.
Biggest time saver for me is in Alfred App, Alt-Cmd-/ opens up the previous path. Garrett Coakley.
Installing on my dashboard for easy reference for loads of shortcuts. I use the markdown one constantly. – Relly Annett-Baker, Ollie Wells. smart mailboxes. I divide my inbox up into today thisweek thismonth etc. It’s not inbox zero. But makes mail manageable. – The Sev.
Smart folders is genius. I also have gmail auto filter stuff into folders and then just have a smart folder pointing at it. I then have all normal folders hidden and just watch smart folders. Makes life easier, both management wise and mentally. – The Sev.
“Cmd + Ctrl + 4″ for grabbing selected screenshots on OS X. So handy. #shortcuts #osx – Adrian Hart.
Cmd+shift+g to get around finder folders quickly. Cmd+opt+shift+s PS save for web. – Aaron.
Bizarrely using CMD + Spacebar as a launcher. Though Quicksilver and Alfred are better at learning. – Josh Peters.
Cmd + \ to login with 1Password in browsers. Didn’t realize how much it’d save me till I started using it. – James Wilson.
I think it would maybe be the web clipper plugin for Evernote. Quick and easy to capture web content & add to “>Evernote. – Chris.
Windows + E for launching Explorer. I must hit that combo 30-40+ times per day! – Mark Hambley.
On the Mac: Command + Tab to shuffle through open applications, it’s a simple one, but saves a ton of time. – Prof Clayton.
Mac: Option + Left or Right Arrow while edit text to jump words at at time. Add Shift key to the mix for extra fun. – Jeffrey Lynch.
I have my Pomodoro App scripted to close email and Twitter at the start of each session. – Drew McLellan.
Dull but it’s CMD Tab to switch windows and CMD+Alt + Arrow direction in Chrome to switch tabs. – Alistair Lane.
Msg Filer to move emails to their correct folder within from the keyboard with minimal key presses. – Rob Allen.
Cmd+Shift+! for Cloud App, Ctrl+Shift+Space for Cobook, Cmd+’ for indent level in – Dan Mall.
Installing Cloud App and learning its shortcuts for speedy screenshot sharing – v useful for bug reports. – Ben Bodien.
Ctrl+v to open Clip Menu – free clipboard manager & code snippet tool. Love it as much as Alfred App. – Vittorio Veneto.
In Chrome – Cmd Shift T reopens the tab you just mistakenly closed. – Elliot Ross.
It’s a small thing but Alt Shift – gives you a much nicer em dash. – Stewart Curry.
The combination of CoffeeScript, LESS, CodeKit and TextMate with Persistent Includes. Solid gold. – Chriztian Steinmeier.
Canned responses in GMail combined with TextExpander work really well for me for handling lots of regular email stuff. – Des Traynor.
Cmd shift and d in mail app. – James Deer.
CleanMyMac from Macpaw – Constantly keeping my mac optimum and clearing space. – Carl W Crawley.
Ctrl-r in the terminal to search through command history. – Joseph Le Brech.