COLOURlovers Interview with Zach Holman of GitHub & Good-Tutorials

COLOURlovers Interview with Zach Holman of GitHub & Good-Tutorials

We are pretty excited to have had the chance to catch up with Zach Holman. Aside from being a developer at GitHub, he is also the founder of Good-Tutorials and does some writing on the side.

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You can follow him on GitHub + Twitter

Okay, an interview!

First up, why don't you tell the community a bit about who you are, what you do, how long you have been doing it. 

I'm Zach Holman. I'm actually a developer, although mostly I just like working on all aspects of making a product. I do a lot of writing and screencasts at, and like to give talks at conferences until they all slowly realize that I may just be insane.

I'm currently employed by GitHub here in sunny San Francisco. Okay, so maybe it's not always sunny. It's the thought that counts.

What past experiences do you think have contributed the most to where you are now?

About a decade ago — when I was in high school — I started, which has been the largest Photoshop tutorial site for years. It started as a small hobby site and grew to be a business. I love thinking on how much Good-Tutorials has impacted me. It taught me programming and design, it helped me get into a good school, it helped me find a job right out of school, and it ultimately helped land me my dream job today.

I find the concept of the "side project" to be incredibly important to me. Having a concrete outlet to try new things, gain recognition, meet people outside of your comfort zone… all of these things make you a good designer. Or developer. Or businesswoman.

What patterns and design trends do you think will be big in 2012?

I do dig the subtle textures we're seeing on some websites, and particularly a number of mobile apps. You know, those light greys with just a hint of texture to them. It adds.

Credit: Shaun Moynihan

If you look at OS X, apps overall have become colder, more metal, and less colorful. I don't really think that's a bad thing… it's just a thing. I suspect you'll see that trend continue to happen in mobile apps as well.

Which colors, patterns & trends are you personally most excited about?

I've been digging pink a little more than usual lately. It just seems like a traditionally "limited" color choice, so when I stumble on someone using it in a clever (read: "non-gendered") way, I swoon a little bit.

In terms of design, what is your favorite website or app right now?

In terms of UI on the desktop, my favorite app trend right now is the Twitter for Mac sidebar, with the vertically-aligned icons on a darker blue backdrop. It's spread to other apps like Sparrow and our own GitHub for Mac, and I just find it a crafty, gorgeous way to display data.


Mobile-wise? Tweetbot. It's my most-used app, and it's my most gorgeous app, in my opinion.

Source: Tweetbot

It's hard to come up with a favorite for the web, so I'll mention how continually impressed I am with Heroku's design language. They carry that through to everything they print or hand out at conferences, too.

Source: Heroku

What colors do you think we will see a lot of in 2012?

Probably a bunch of the usual. You'll see your standard greys and whites and blues for corporate logos, your alternative "trendy" companies rocking the red or yellow. Mobile and OS apps will become more desaturated and sad. I think colors trend per decade (or longer!) rather than per year.

What are your go-to fonts? 

I've suddenly become known for my usage of Yanone Kaffeesatz after my blog post on "Slide Design for Developers".


I've heard a number of people mention that they can't get through a technical conference anymore without seeing someone using it (and my slide design) during their talk. Not bad, I suppose — it's certainly a step up from normal developer slides look like — but it means I need to find a new look for myself soon!


What are your top go-to colors?

Color wise I almost always find myself using #eeeeee in things, particularly combined with our trusty #ffffff. The colors I layer on top of them may change from project to project, but I just like that subtle white/grey mix.

What do you do to continue learning and to continue improving in your craft?

Keep building things. That's really the only way I know how to learn something. Reading books doesn't really do anything for me. I have to see something applied in practice, on my own, before I can really internalize something and grow. So, as I mentioned before, there's almost always a side project I'm hacking on (even if I don't plan to ever release it to the general public).

When you are feeling stumped, where do you turn for inspiration?

I use GitHub a lot to see what other cool projects are being written. I also browse Hacker News frequently- it's a good way to keep on top of new startups that have launched, new features that just shipped, how people are writing their launch posts, and so on. I'm much more interested in the broader picture of the product itself rather than studying individual components. I think you can learn a lot by studying the trend rather than the details.

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Showing 1 - 6 of 6 Comments
Standout article, Allison and Zach!
Great questions, thoughtful answers.
I really enjoyed the format and the questions too. This was an easy and non-droning interview!
thanks for this great article - great job!
You're very welcome

agathejs wrote:
thanks for this great article - great job!
Alison, great article! Departure from the usual with a developer like Zach.
Good news for us!

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