by Michelle Ciampa
We all remember the awkward middle school years: the metal braces, Y dances and most importantly the awkward conversations. WHS junior Jack Cunningham was tired of the awkward “truth or dare” conversation starters and turned to something else: website design. Cunningham’s early web design efforts were online games that engaged his classmates in a common interest. His games on icebreakronline.com related to subjects ranging from horror movies to SpongeBob SquarePants.
His middle school hobby soon grew into a full-time passion. He has honed his skills by taking computer science courses—and through trial and error. Most recently, he has designed the Science Olympiad team’s website and sites for other school clubs. To many, web design may seem like a technical science, but to Cunningham it is also an artistic process.
The process begins with brainstorming. According to Cunningham, most of his ideas come to him while he is out running. “When I run, I will get, like, 17 different computer science ideas,” he explained. He writes them down and then revisits them on Fridays, when he turns his concepts into web creations on his Chromebook. He compared web design to reading a good book: Once you get into a topic, you don’t want to stop until it’s done.
“When you’re doing computer science, the art of it is trying to get the user to be able to use it without thinking about it,” said Cunningham. He said that he prefers user-friendly design features like ample white space and consistent color schemes.
Cunningham’s web design experience has made him interested in the look and function of other sites beside his own. During the interview, Cunningham interspersed his answers with pointers on the Hi’s Eye website (“needs more white space”). Cunningham also plans to pursue his passion by majoring in computer science in college.
What’s the art of web design? For Cunningham, it’s the problem-solving process. “I’m not going to stop encountering problems tomorrow,” he said. “Web design, websites, apps and programming are just how I fix problems.”