Keir Whitaker Shopify Design Advocate & Podcaster

Work & Projects

I’ve worked professionally in the “web industry” since 2000. During that time I’ve worked for organisations large and small, agencies, charities and for a large chunk of that as a freelancer. Today I spend my days working on the Platform Team at Shopify but still find time for the occasional project outside work hours. If you will here is something resembling a portfolio of recent work, projects and previous positions.


— Working on the Platform team

In May 2012 I joined Shopify in the role of Designer Advocate. I first used Shopify in 2007 not long after it launched to the public and have been a huge fan of the platform ever since. It wasn’t hard to say yes to joining the team.

I am based in the UK and work closely with my colleagues on the Platform Team in Canada on a wide range of projects including workshops, tutorials, screencasts, marketing, events, documentation and more.

The Back to Front Show

— A web & tech podcast with a love of a good tangent

Your friendly Back to Front Show Hosts

In January 2013 Kieran Masterton and I launched The Back to Front Show podcast — a weekly podcast focused on front and back end technology with plenty in-between. Some have described it as a show with a casual tone and fondness for a good tangent.

More often than not recorded with the aid of two Blue Yeti’s and a dodgy Skype connection between Bath and Wells in the UK’s beautiful West Country each episode sees us chat about the latest happenings in the web industry.


— Published articles, interviews & more

Over the last few years I’ve contributed to a number of online blogs including Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot, Tuts+, Creative Bloq and more.

You can find a full list of articles on my dedicated writing page.

Talks & Workshops

— Occasional forays in front of an audience

Reasons to be Creative 2013

Occasionally I get asked to talk in front of an audience. It’s always great to travel to events, meet new people and share experiences.

Most recently I have been focusing on discussing the business opportunities offered to web designers by the rapid growth of online commerce but have in the past covered topics including the consuming nature of the web, side projects, web site page performance, Shopify, running online businesses, WordPress and PHP.

If you would like me to talk about ecommerce, or run a free Shopify theme building workshop, at an event please feel free to get in touch.

You’ll find a full list of engagements on my presentations and workshops page.

Shopify Birthday Suit Theme

— A simple & clean Shopify starter theme

Available on GitHub “Birthday Suit” is an exceedingly bare bones Shopify starter theme. It’s designed to form the basis of a theme. There’s no CSS, no JavaScript and no predefined markup. Instead it offers you a great starting point — copy it, fork it, change it. It’s up to you.

Insites: The Book

— 20 interviews with web and tech designers & entrepreneurs

Insites: The Book

Insites: The Book was published in September 2012 and features interviews with 21 of the web and tech communities finest practitioners including Tina Roth Eisenberg, Jason Santa Maria, Cameron Moll, Ethan Marcotte, Alex Hunter, Brendan Dawes, Simon Collison, Dan Rubin, Andy McLoughlin, Kevin Rose and Daniel Burka, Josh Brewer, Ron Richards, Trent Walton, Ian Coyle, Mandy Brown, Sarah Parmenter, Jim Coudal, Jeffrey Zeldman, Tim Van Damme, and Jon Hicks. Over 256 pages they share their successes, the lessons they have learned and tales from the coal face of web design and development.

Insites: The Tour

— 4 cities in 4 days

Elliot and I in Bristol

In July 2011 Elliot Jay Stocks and I headed onto the road for “Insites: The Tour”. Over four consecutive nights in Brighton, London, Manchester, and Bristol we chatted with some of our webby friends and heroes about how they got started, the lessons they have learned, their big wins and the things they would do differently. It was fascinating, fun and very rewarding. It even gave birth to a book, but that’s a story in itself.

The 2011 line-up included Sarah Parmenter, Jeremy Keith, Aral Balkan, Simon Collison, Dan Rubin, Jon Tan, Natalie Downe, and many more (some of whom you can find in Insites: The Book).

Insites: ConfShop

— Turning the conference format upside down

ConfShop: A participation based conference/workshop hybrid

In July 2013 we flipped the conference format on it’s head. ConfShop took the best bits of a conference (the community and social aspects) and the best bits of a workshop (the initimate setting and group discussions) and added the sharing, learning, and openness at the heart of the “Insites” brand and made a day of it.

We shared stories and chatted openly about the difficulties we face, the passions we share, the side projects we manage to find time for and much more. Sean Johnson, co-host of The Freelance Web came along and summed it up nicely on Episode 8 of his podcast.

Digest #1

— A one off large format magazine for the creative and curious

A one off large format magazine for the creatively curious

In August 2013 Elliot Jay Stocks and I published a magazine called Digest. It’s focus was the culture that surrounds the world of the creative professional; a lifestyle publication that provides inspiration for the discerning traveller; a reminder that the world away from our computers is ripe for exploration.

Digest featured contributions from a variety of writers, illustrators and photographers from around the globe and was is available in print, PDF and a Read Online version.

  • Year: 2013

8 Faces Theme

— Shopify theme development

8 Faces — A Shopify powered store

In 2013 I helped out with the relaunch of typography magazine 8 Faces. Elliot commissioned the talented trio at Paravel to reimagine the design from it’s original one page fixed structure to a responsive layout with multiple sections. The new site was also changing platforms, from a custom ecommerce build to Shopify.

Once Trent, Dave and Reagan had delivered their files I took their HTML, CSS and JavaScript and started to transform their templates into a Shopify theme.

The development came together well and posed a few interesting challenges. I wrote an in-depth article looking at the redesign over on Web Desgin Tuts+.

Smashing Magazine

— Code Section Editor

Smashing Magazine: The leading web design and development blog

In April 2011 I started working with the talented folks at Smashing Magazine. For a year I helped commission, curate and edit their dedicated coding section. I learnt a great deal during my time at Smashing and continue to work with the team today through their events.

Think Vitamin

— Blogging and Podcasting

Think Vitamin: A resource for web developers (now defunct)

Think Vitamin was a popular web design and development resource run by Carsonified. During my time at the company I edited the blog and was responsible for the Think Vitamin Radio podcast. This included curating show topics, editing the audio and marketing the show.

  • Year: 2010 – 2012