I'm Joel Crawford-Smith. I have played multiple roles in his career including Front-end Developer, User Experience Designer, and Drupal Developer. My past experience both UX and development helps bring a "big picture" point of view.

As a relentless web accessibility fanatic, I strive to spread word about how to improve web accessibility by giving educational talks about WCAG fundamentals to staff and students at Duke University, as well as other organizations like TriUXPA, TISQA, in the greater Raleigh, NC area and larger events like All Things Open. I have trained hundreds of people on how to apply web accessibility concepts to their work and their websites.

My hobbies include travel, photography, and searching out the dankest cat memes on earth.

I'm a Front-End Developer

I love the challenge of blending responsive web design with accessibility. My formal training in user-centered design allows me to code sites that work equally well on desktops as they do on touch devices. Throughout my career I have stayed on top of all the latest advances in front-end development to stay on top of my game and deliver quality scaleable code.


I have been developing/designing with CSS since it became mainstream. As CSS3 came to reality I was an early adopter and wrote many JS poly-fills for IE. Now that CSS Preprocessors have came into the mainstream I have used them to increase my productivity. I evolve. Gaurd to Grunt to Gulp no problem.


If custom functionality is required to create something, I can do it. I have never ran into a situation that I could not handle via plugins or my own custom code.

PHP, .NET, ColdFusion

I won't call myself a guru, but I can get done what a front-end developer needs to integrate into Content Management Systems.

CMS Theming

When all these skills combine, I can theme sites that get implemented in CommonSpot, Ektron, and Drupal.

I'm a Web Accessibility Fanatic and User Experience Designer

Web accessibility is not just running WAVE tests and checking off a list of requirements to meet. Better web accessibility leads to better user experience.

Web Accessibility Evangelism

I have a passion for helping people with disabilities use the web. Over my career I have trained hundreds of people on the fundamentals of web accessibility and how to apply that knowledge to their own websites.

Explaining the connection between web accessibility and user experience is an important part of getting people on the web accessibility bandwagon. It can help web designers guide and defend their user interface choices.

Web Accessibility Administrator

In 2017 I became Duke Universities first Senior Web Accessibility Administrator. My responsibilities include creating university-wide standard. Communicating the standard across the whole university. Of equal importance I performing assessment and assist in remediation. In some cases I train people on how to make the fixes. In other cases I make them myself because I have deep knowledge of Drupal and the Drupal theme system. Websites do not stay in compliance forever. I have created plans for continued automated scanning and a schedule for manual testing for things like screen reader compatibility and keyboard accessibility.


Primary architect of the OpenAssessIt Toolkit. Its a collection of open source tools to help create web accessibility assessments, monitor accessibile document compliance, and more.

UX Creative Briefs

Although my days are spent administering Duke's web accessibility program, I have past experience in writing Creative Briefs and requirements gathering.

As part of my initial meeting with the client I have a Creative Session. This requires and open mind and listening skills. This is how you learn the clients branding requirements, frustrations with the current site, and hopes and dreams for the new site. This helps discover general required features and page types. During this initial meeting I show them other sites and get their reactions.

I compile the results of this meeting (and sometimes surveys) into a comprehensive Creative Brief. All my creative briefs include results form the meeting, wireframes, review of Google Analytics data, and create user-personas. The amount of detail depends on each client situation. From this document I can sum up vague ideas of what the client envisions the into concrete digestible document. These documents can be sent the design to any designer and they will have all the background necessary to make comps.

Wire-frames & Low-Fidelity Prototypes

Solid tested wire-frames are the foundation of good design. I put wire-framing in two categories: interactive wire-frames and non-interactive wire-frames. For non-interactive low-fidelity wireframes, I have used paper and pencil, Balsomic, or Adobe Illustrator. For fully interactive low-fidelity wireframes, I use straight HTML5/CSS3, Axure, or UXPin. Usually these wire-frames will also include a wire-frame for narrow viewports (mobile devices).

UX and Visual Design

Understanding the concepts and the trends in design is key in delivering relevant designs. Each new wave of design is a reaction to the previous status quo. My Certified Usability Analyst training allows me to analyze the effect of these new trends as it relates to usability.

I'm a Drupal Cult Member

During the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work in-depth with many content management systems. These include CommonSpot, DotNetNuke, SharePoint, and Convio spanning multiple programming languages and environments. Drupal is my true love and obsession.

Drupal Theming & Front-end Developer

I can take any PhotoShop document or wireframe and turn it into a fully responsive website. I start with a basic theme like Omega 4, Zen, or Bootstrap and create a proper sub-theme following Drupal best practices.

Site Building

I've been a Drupal Themer and Site Builder since the early days of Drupal 7. Now that Drupal 8 has become the norm I wanted to keep up my skills. As part of that commitment to myself I earned my Drupal 8 Site Builder Certification from Acquia.

Design & User Experience in Drupal

Having a background hybrid background in both development and Usability (Certified Usability Analyst) I can make practical UI/UX decisions that benefit both the end-user, the developer, and the client. For example, after gathering requirements from a client I can compare the features of an existing module against the features needed for a client. If they match it can be wire-framed to match the existing modules design pattern, saving both time and money for everyone.