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by Shawn Allen

Shawn Allen Curriculum vitae

Hi. I'm Shawn Allen, a web designer and developer with a keen interest in data and systems. Here's what I've been up to professionally since I started working on the web in 2000.

Be sure to also peruse my portfolio and take a look at what I've been up to on GitHub lately.


Systems Designer c. 2017 - present


I’m part of small but nimble team that owns, builds, and maintains Primer, the design system that powers and many of the company’s marketing sites.

  • I’m one of the core maintainers of the Primer CSS framework, and have undertaken several large projects to improve its visual consistency, release workflows, and developer experience.
  • As a Design Systems first responder I’ve offered code review, one-on-one support, design, and development assistance with hundreds of pull requests to the Rails application, and deepened my understanding of Ruby along the way.
  • I’ve built and shared GitHub Actions for publishing npm dozens of packages and continuously deploying Primer web sites.
  • I’ve lead efforts to measure and improve Primer coverage on
  • I’ve learned React on the job and jointly developed the Primer Components framework from scratch.
  • I’ve ported several Primer web sites from Jekyll to Next.js, and then to Gatsby, and learned a ton about continuous deployment on Now.
What I learned
  • The importance of simple, repeatable interaction patterns and component-oriented design in a vast and ever-changing environment.
  • The value of continuous integration and deployment in helping teams (and individuals!) move fast and maintain momentum (without breaking things).


Innovation Specialist (GS-15) c. 2014 - 2017


I serve in the U.S. government as a front end design lead at 18F, a division of the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service, alongside a brilliant team of designers, developers, product managers, strategists, and other wonderful, dedicated folks who are working to improve digital services for the American public.

  • I’m the technical lead on the U.S. Web Design Standards, a style guide and front end toolkit that aims to make it easier for government web designers and developers to deliver beautiful and accessible experiences with a consistent look and feel. I’m also the sole maintainer of the Standards Jekyll theme.
  • I’ve played a hybrid designer/developer role on projects large and small, leading front end efforts, doing research, and leading exercises that engage our agency partners in the design process.
  • In my lead capacity, I’m a part-time mentor for three colleagues, who I meet with weekly to discuss their work and career goals.
What I learned
  • The importance of thorough, considerate user research
  • How to run design sketching workshops
  • How to work effectively with remote teams and colleagues
  • What it's like to work in a large organization with more cultural challenges than technical ones

Stamen Design

Partner, Design Director c. 2005 - 2013

  • Shepherded projects from business development and specification through development and delivery
  • Provided technical front end direction for 5-10 projects at any given time, plus design and code assistance for a team of 4-6 design technologists
  • Project-specific design, technical planning, full-stack development and deployment
  • Provided technical guidance to local governments on the design of open data policies and implementation of their public interfaces
  • Taught data visualization courses at public and private universities
  • Gave talks and lectures for public and private audiences on data visualization and open data policy
  • Performed and evaluated research & development of new tools and techniques
  • Initiated and maintained open source projects such as Modest Maps, Prosthetic, and Sando
What I learned
  • Everything is data (if you want it to be).
  • The thrill of the small design firm hustle!
  • I'm too old for this shit.

Kit Interactive

Contract Interaction Designer c. 2004 to 2005

  • Developed an interactive learning application that guided employees of pharmaceutical manufacturer Sankyo through the drug development process
  • Designed and developed a robust paginated text and image layout system in Flash for over 250 pages of content, and a complimentary content-driven, cross-linked navigation system

Stamen Design

Contract Interaction Designer c. 2004

  • Developed several interactive portions of the Patrón Spirits Flash site, including a map-based “spirit locator”, a timeline-based explanation of the spirit-making process, and a video player

Maxis/Electronic Arts

Engineer 1 c. 2004

  • Designed and developed an ActionScript-based UI development framework that was later adapted for use in a Sims franchise console game
  • Aided the Flash interpreter development team by developing simple test cases for complex issues
  • Worked with game programmers and designers to develop a workflow for getting Flash files from concept to production
What I learned
  • Video games are fun to play, but awful to work on.

Maxis/Electronic Arts

UI Engineer c. 2003

  • Built to completion a large portion of the user interface for The Sims Bustin’ Out console game
  • Developed light-weight interfaces that ran in a custom Flash interpreter
  • Collaborated with game programmers to design communication protocols between the UI and game engine

Kit Interactive

Web Engineer c. 2002 - 2003

  • Developed collaborative web application for PR firms
  • Built scalable PHP tools for parsing and rendering standard data formats, including vCal and vCard, to enable PIM and PDA synchronization over the web
  • Ported a legacy database abstraction layer to a class-based system in PHP5
What I learned
  • Source control, the UNIX command line, and Vim
  • The importance of open data formats

Hill & Knowlton

Web Engineer c. 2001 to 2002

  • Re-wrote a PHP-based CMS from the ground up and added support for additional database engines, including PostgreSQL and Oracle
  • Co-developed a suite of PHP web site and application development tools
  • Developed web-based press room and file sharing applications and productivity tools


Interaction Designer c. 2000 to 2001

  • Coordinated with design and information architecture teams to develop a variety of static and dynamic web sites using Flash, PHP and MySQL
  • Developed a general-purpose PHP/MySQL content management system in use on dozens of web sites
  • Built an XML-driven Flash presentation tool that was used by the sales team to successfully pitch several projects
  • Participated in research and development of new tools and techniques

References available upon request.

Shawn Allen
Phone: 415.577.3961