Meet AJ – The Founder of HTML5 UP! and Pixelarity

Published by Rob Hope in Interviews, on 29 Oct 2015

I’m stoked to kick off our interview series again with HTML5 UP! and Pixelarity founder and all round funny guy, AJ.

For those who don’t know HTML5 UP! is a collection of free HTML templates designed and coded by AJ. A lot of these templates are beautiful minimal One Page templates.

We recently reviewed the Strata template but plan to add a bunch more to our free templates section soon.

I recently caught up with AJ and we rapped about side projects, productivity tools, template attribution, WordPress, Twitter and Flexbox.

Hi AJ! To start can you please tell our readers where you are from and what you do for the that magical paper that we exchange for things?

Hey Rob, thanks for interviewing me and congrats on OPL! I’m a designer/developer from the increasingly interesting Nashville, Tennessee (home to country music, hot chicken, and eventually Google Fiber). Most people probably know me from the series of side projects I work on (like HTML5 UP! and Pixelarity), but I also do freelance design/dev work every once in a while.

You’re a busy guy and ship more often than most, especially considering these templates are side projects. What’s your secret?

Coffee, a general disregard for sleep, and the fact that I just really enjoy coding, designing, and learning new things (which, if you build
for the web, is in no short supply).

Mostly the coffee though.

Nice, I share a similar bean addiction:) So what are the top 5 (not in order) tools you can’t live without when it comes to shipping those sweet sweet HTML templates?

1. Sublime Text
2. Photoshop
3. Sass
4. Pen and paper
5. That huge whiteboard on the wall behind me

What exactly is the difference between HTML5 UP! and Pixelarity?

Well, I’ve been making free, mostly Creative Commons-licensed templates since about the mid-2000s (Google “nodethirtythree” for a good laugh), and HTML5 UP! was just a little side project I whipped up in late 2012 to practice making responsive ones — something I had little to no experience with at the time. I really didn’t expect much to come of it, but then in early 2013 it sort of just … blew up and it’s been growing steadily (in both content and downloads) ever since.

I built Pixelarity, my paid service, a little while later in response to numerous requests for a (paid) way to use my templates without attribution. The service I came up with combined an unlimited attribution-free license to everything at HTML5 UP!, exclusive new templates, and email support direct from me for a flat $19 (for 3 months of download/support access). Launched it about a year ago and I think it’s safe the say the response has been great so far :)

Why $19? and not $29 or $49? Did you do a survey, split test this or just trust your gut?

I basically just priced it in line with services that only sold templates individually (most of whom do so in the $9-20 range). That way the service would be accessible to as many people as possible (including those who were just in it for a single template) while packing in way more value.

Makes sense for sure. So with all the demand around, have you considered releasing any WordPress themes? It feels the Pixelarity templates are a perfect adaption waiting to happen.

I’ve definitely considered it, but in all honesty “heavy” content management systems like WordPress tend to run counter to my preference for leaner, more lightweight solutions, like the recent trend towards static sites (of which I’m a huge fan). That’s not to say I won’t ever do it, but for now I guess I’m kind of on the fence.

As much as there is currently a huge demand for WordPress, I admire your push for simplicity and speed. You’ve got quite a Twitter following – do you feel this in any way influences the success of your new releases?

Oh yeah, for sure. Twitter’s played a huge role in my recent successes. Being able to instantly share my latest and greatest with a sizeable audience gives me a lot of traction I’d otherwise not have.

Awesome. Ok, final question and an important one. Just how much do you love Flexbox? :)

THIS MUCH: *stretches out arms as far as they can go*

But seriously Rob, don’t question my love for Flexbox. I’ll cut you.

Yikes! Thanks for chatting with us AJ, where can our readers follow your new releases online?

It’s been great, thanks for having me! You can keep up with everything I do/make over at @AJLKN.

Much love,

Twitter: @robhope
LinkedIn: @robhope
Email: [email protected]