Lea Verou

Highlights

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Professional experience

Industry

Elected member • W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG)

The TAG oversees the technical direction of the Web. It consists of inventor of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, and 10 other seats. TAG review is required for shipping in Google Chrome. and for a W3C specification to reach Recommendation status.

  • 100+ design reviews of web platform proposals, focused on user needs & API design.
  • Created a “fast track” design review process that reduces response time by 88%.
  • Led successful effort to increase visibility and time allocation for Design Principles.
  • Proposed & led a Design Principles for Developers publication (ongoing).
  • Improved collaboration with TC39 and acted as the TAG ↔ TC39 (JS WG) liaison. TC39 is the group that designs JS, the world’s most popular programming language.
  • My work in the TAG is sponsored by the OpenJS Foundation

Invited Expert • CSS Working Group

The CSS WG designs the CSS language, used on every website worldwide.

  • Proposed over 5 CSS features and led them to wide implementation across browsers, including conic gradients, :where(), relative colors, and others .
  • Led the effort to significantly simplify CSS Nesting syntax, by driving consensus through strategic intermediate milestones.
  • Driving force behind expanding CSS to wide gamut colors, through a combination of spec work, consensus building, dev evangelism, and open source code.

Developer Advocate • W3C

Founder • Lea Verou Consulting

Speaking, writing, open web standards, usability, product.

Notable clients: Google, Stripe, O’Reilly Media, Wix, Mozilla, McKinsey & Company, Discourse.

Co-founder, CEO • Fresset Ltd

Online communities startup. €80k friends & family round in 2008, exit in 2013

  • e-steki.gr (0→1): a safe space for sensitive discussions (2005 - Present). User base of 80K users (0.75% of the country’s population). ~500k visits and ~2.5M pageviews/month.
  • MyCat.gr (0→1): curated reviews of cat products & community of cat owners (2006 - 2022). Created a new, now saturated, market in the country and is still cited as pioneering for its time.
  • Oversaw two acquisitions: (a) iSchool.gr (first Greek school student community, 25k users) (b) One Night Chat (Innovative web-based talk show, ~80k views/episode)
  • Strategic partnership with ANT1 (major Greek TV channel)
  • Managed a small team of developers & designers, and a team of >30 moderators.
Freelance web & graphic designer and full-stack web developer

Academic

Instructor (6.S063) • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Third iteration of Design for the Web: Languages and User Interfaces. Enrollment: ~50 students & listeners. Co-managed a team of 7 TAs/LAs.

Instructor (6.S063) • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Second iteration of Design for the Web: Languages and User Interfaces. Co-managed a team of 4 TAs/LAs.

Instructor (6.S082) • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Co-created and co-taught Design for the Web: Languages and User Interfaces. Co-managed a team of 4 TAs.

Instructor (6.813/6.831) • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Co-taught “User Interface Design & Implementation” a mature undergrad/grad course of ~250 students. Co-managed a team of 9 TAs.

Research Assistant • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

My research lowers barriers for programming Web applications and empowers novices to create web applications tailored to their needs, and has resulted in several peer-reviewed publications at top-tier conferences. As part of this role, I also supervised 10+ undergraduate and 2 graduate students.

Teaching Assistant • Athens University of Economics & Business

Co-developed all material for the “Web Technologies and Programming” 4th year undergraduate course from scratch, taught the labs, lectured the CSS lectures. [Details]

Education

Ph.D in Computer Science (GPA: 5.0/5.0) • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Major: Human-Computer Interaction, Minor: Entrepreneurship & Innovation

M.Sc in Computer Science (GPA: 5.0/5.0) • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Thesis: Creating Interactive Data-Driven Web Applications by Authoring HTML, Advisor: David Karger

B.Sc. in Computer Science (GPA: 8.4/10, top 3%) • Athens University of Economics & Business

Thesis: Dabblet: A visual IDE for rapid prototyping of client-side web development, Advisor: Vasilis Vassalos

Publications

Books

Specifications

Co-editor of several W3C specifications on CSS and CSS-related APIs. CSS is a language used by nearly every website in the world.

In addition to these, I have also proposed and/or helped shape a variety of CSS features defined in other specifications in my 10+ years of being a CSS Working Group member.

Peer-reviewed Research Papers

I have published several peer-reviewed research papers, in top-tier HCI venues, such as ACM UIST and ACM CSCW.

A few notable ones are:

A full list is available on my website.

Articles

I have written articles for some of the biggest Web development industry media, including A List Apart, Smashing Magazine, .net magazine. You can find an (infrequently updated) list on my website.

Speaking

I have given over 100 invited talks in five continents and spoken at some of the most prominent international web development conferences, often as a keynote speaker. These include SXSW, An Event Apart, Future Of Web Design, JSConf (EU & Asia), CSSConf, Web Directions, SmashingConf, FITC, O’Reilly Fluent, Fronteers

My talks get enthusiastic reviews: My “CSS3 secrets” talk was listed in .net magazine’s 15 best talks of 2011. My “The humble border-radius” talk was shortlisted in The net awards 2014 as “Conference Talk of the Year.

For more information, please refer to the “Speaking” section on my website.

Industry recognition

Judging & Reviewing

Industry

Academic

Conference organizing

Selected Open Source Projects

Color.js: Color science based conversion & manipulation library (co-developed with Chris Lilley)

Used to generate most code examples in CSS Color specs. Its results were used as a reference by browser engineers for implementing CSS Color 4 and CSS Color 5. Its API was an inspiration for the Color API.

Mavo: Create complex, reactive, persistent web applications by just writing HTML & CSS, without a single line of JavaScript and no server backend.

My research at MIT. Two peer-reviewed studies indicating that it does indeed help novices develop complex applications. Over 2.5K stars on Github.

Awesomplete: Lightweight, simple, ultra extensible autocomplete

6.9K stars on Github. Featured on Github’s weekly Github Explore newsletter.

contrast-ratio.com: Color contrast calculator

This has since become one of the most popular contrast checkers, and has been featured in numerous books.

Prism: A beautiful, standards-compliant, extensible syntax highlighter

Over 8+ million downloads weekly on npm. Used in big industry websites like Mozilla Developer Network, Google’s web.dev, Sitepoint, Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, CSS Tricks and many others. Over 10K stars on Github

The CSS3 Test: High coverage testsuite for the most stable CSS3 modules.

50,000 unique visitors on its launch. Motivated browser vendors such as Mozilla or WebKit to support more CSS features to increase their scores on it.

dabblet: An interactive CSS playground that saves to Github gists.

Several popular industry media like Wired.com’s WebMonkey, CSS-Tricks, Smashing Magazine and others wrote about Dabblet’s release. During its first month, it received more than 65,000 unique visitors, 15,000 of which during its first two days.

cubic-bezier.com: Direct manipulation of bezier-based easing functions

Featured in numerous books. Code from it was included in Firefox, and Adobe’s Brackets editor.

CSS3 Patterns Gallery: Using CSS3 to generate background patterns

My CSS patterns gallery was featured in Smashing Magazine multiple times and mentioned in conference talks and several books by a number of industry leaders. It was used by Opera Software to fine-tune their CSS gradients implementation.

A lot more of my open source work can be found in my Github profile.

Academic distinctions

2020

Thomas G. Stockam Fellowship Award for excellence in teaching and mentoring undergraduate or graduate students

Invited participant of Dagstuhl 18061: Evidence About Programmers for Programming Language Design

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George and Marie Vergottis Fellowship Award

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Paris Kanellakis Fellowship Award

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Yearly distinctions in the Hellenic Mathematical Society contests, up to 2nd place nationally. Qualification to its premilinary contest for Balkan Mathematical Olympiad in 2004.

Technical skills

I have a broad understanding of the full Open Web Stack of technologies, including:

I also have experience with a wide range of programming languages and technologies, including PHP, SQL, Java and many more.

Languages

Professional interests

Product management, Open web standards, user experience, UI design, web development education, front-end web development, API design, web accessibility, technical writing, graphic design, color science, typography

Research interests

Human-Computer Interaction, End user programming, Web architecture, Data visualization