Mark Norman Francis

norm@201created.com LinkedIn profile

Mike West, then Web Developer at Yahoo

There's not much I can say about Norm that won't seem hyperbolic, that won't sound like a throwaway, EBay-style comment in the vein of "a++++!!! would buy again!!!!". The simple fact is this: Norm is an inspiring leader who is incredibly good at building websites. He helped build a world-class web development team, he held it together when it started to splinter apart under external pressures, and he generally served as a shining beacon of sanity and hope in an otherwise dismal time. That description is a bit abstract; let's talk details: 1) Norm knows how to build websites. He was responsible for the development of a wide variety of Yahoo! media properties, and successfully launched dozens of sites during his tenure as a web developer. He's a passionate standards advocate, and has enough practical experience actually building sites to keep his head out of the clouds and focused on real problems and solutions. 2) In his role as front end architect, Norm generated a set of standards and practices that guide the development of websites across Y! Europe. He effectively cared for the standards' improvement and effectiveness by involving the team in a regular and pervasive series of peer reviews. 3) Norm insatiably pursued (practical) perfection in his work; he was a sharp critic of inefficiencies, and was never one to simply accept a bad decision. He did everything he could to effect change, ranging from pragmatic hacks that solved real problems to well-reasoned white-papers aimed at larger, cultural issues. Norm was absolutely at the center of every important debate I know of at the company, and he was usually the one making the most sense. 4) Norm is generous with his time and knowledge. He is continually available to answer questions, and always ready to lend a hand to a teammate up against a wall. He documents excessively and clearly, and quite simply makes the team better by example. He's a leader in every sense of the word. I'd work with him again in a heartbeat, and it's very much Yahoo!'s loss that they've let him go.